Date: June 1, 2022 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Steph Smith |
A young couple honors their family’s heritage with a studio home that celebrates craftsmanship as well as the structure’s setting
As high school sweethearts, Emily Parks and her now-husband, Devon, wouldn’t have guessed the house where they posed for prom pictures would strongly influence their own abode years later. After marrying in 2013, the pair left their native Van Buren for Los Angeles to work in the film industry. While they returned home to see loved ones as often as they could, a project with an extended stay arose in 2019, evolving into an opportunity where they were working in Arkansas almost as much as they were in California. “We kind of just fell in love with home all over again. You really come to appreciate the area you are from when you move away,” Emily says. They felt the time was right to reestablish their roots in western Arkansas by making it their home base.
Having been renters since they first moved to Los Angeles, they looked at buying a home near Van Buren, but as Devon recalls, “it sucked the life out of us.” Turning their focus back to their family and the things they treasured about the area, an idea began to form around Devon’s grandparents’ log cabin, a residence his grandfather and father built themselves in the late 1980s. “We have always known we wanted to keep the cabin in our family,” he says. “We thought, What if we built our own home on the property?” The more they pondered the idea, the more sense it seemed to make; they would get the benefits of homeownership and also be able to live close to family.
Not only did the couple have a vision, they had drive, completing all the work on the home themselves save for the siding, flooring, and plumbing. On one of their film projects in Arkansas, Emily met interior designer Kathryn LeMaster. The two hit it off, and Emily began working with Kathryn on design projects before officially joining her eponymous firm as a junior designer. While Devon does not have formal training as a carpenter, he was immersed in the craft from an early age. “Since my grandfather and my dad built the property’s cabin together, it was something I always wanted to do myself as well,” he says. Combined with their experience in constructing sets, this gave the Parks the confidence to embark on the project.
Inspired by traditional log cabin designs centered on a hearth or living area as well as Los Angeles lofts, they sketched a floor plan incorporating the best of both worlds. With 800 square feet on the ground floor and a sleeping loft above, the house is the perfect size for Emily and Devon. The design also lent itself to cost-effective materials, including readily available metal for the exterior and wood milled locally in Booneville. “When you move from Arkansas to L.A., you garner a different appreciation for family heirlooms,” Devon says. “We really wanted to build this home to honor our family,” Emily adds.
Trapezoid-shaped windows mimic the original cabin on the property, while a black metal exterior was an intentional choice to respectfully blend with the environment.
The living room adjoins the kitchen, creating one seamless gathering space on the ground floor. The coffee table was a Facebook Marketplace find Emily scored for $5. She sanded and stained the industrial spool to transform it into a functional piece.
A built-in nook displays Devon’s film awards, including an Emmy for Van Buren-based “Step Into: The King Opera House.”
“Our style is very modern, but we still love rustic and vintage pieces.”
Inspired by the Past
“If my whole life could be just one color, it would be this,” Emily says, pointing to the kitchen’s mint green, vintage-style refrigerator. Along with a butcher block counter, which was salvaged from a friend’s business, this piece plays into what Emily references as a 1950s diner vibe. She and Devon designed the counter ledge as their main dining space to take advantage of the ever-changing view out the window.
Devon is not a fan of porcelain tile, but the bath needed some type of durable treatment that would also give it interest: enter concrete. Emily’s father, who owns a local decorative concrete company, had installed the couple’s floors. Building off of this idea, they opted for an overlay treatment on the bath walls, giving the room a tone-on-tone contrast. A contemporary vanity, fixtures, and minimal accessories complete the look.
Custom concrete floating bedside tables carry the home’s signature finish into the lofted bedroom.
Interior design Emily Parks, Kathryn J. LeMaster Art & Design Cabinetry Smitty’s Construction Remodeling, LLC Countertops Majestic Marble & Granite Flooring Tops Decorative Concrete Lumber D & H Wood Products Paint Benjamin Moore Windows WeatherBarr Windows & Doors