Date: May 1, 2023 | Story: Tate Gunnerson | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Stephanie Maxwell Newton |
Harper Howey Interiors helps a Fayetteville couple create a family home reflective of the Southern style they adore
Erin Henry was enchanted when, as an undergrad, she first walked into the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority house at Mississippi State University. “It felt like the pinnacle of fancy,” she says. “It was classy and classic, but still colorful and fun.”She and her husband, John, hoped to create the same milieu at their new home in Fayetteville. “That sort of old, Southern, traditional look is very much my husband’s style as well,” Erin says. John is a CPA and Erin is a tax professor at the University of Arkansas. “I started looking for a designer because I have absolutely no talent in that area whatsoever, and I’m not too proud to admit that,” she laughs. “I don’t even like watching HGTV!” Since interior design is as bewildering for her as preparing a tax return might be for others, she felt fortunate to stumble across the work of Kimberly Harper of Harper Howey Interiors. The couple immediately loved her style; and, as a bonus, her portfolio included a sorority house. “We wanted a little bit of glamour, but nothing too over the top,” Erin says. “Kimberly understood that right away.”
They tasked the designer with reimagining the main living areas, including the kitchen, which the Henrys felt needed both a functional and aesthetic refresh. Kimberly worked with Justus Cabinets to create an updated kitchen with custom Shaker-style, soft-close cabinetry that extends to the ceiling.
She also introduced a deep navy hue, a color that carries from the kitchen to the connected living room. “We spiraled a little bit when Kimberly suggested the navy, but it looks fantastic, and we love it,” Erin says. New perimeter cabinetry, light quartz countertops, soft blue ceramic backsplash tile, and a preppy striped Roman shade completely transform the kitchen even though the space retains its original layout.
The design’s transitional appeal continues into the dining room, where heirloom furnishings blend with updated lighting and textiles. A patterned grasscloth wallcovering adds dimension while providing a striking backdrop for the dark wood table, chairs, and buffet. “It’s traditional in feel but also unexpected,” Kimberly says of the combination. She also provided updates to the small bar area in a hallway connecting the two rooms; now, the spaces flow seamlessly from one to the other.
After eight long weeks of work in the kitchen, the couple tore down the plastic hanging around the construction zone and were blown away by the transformation. Now, Erin enjoys preparing traditional fare such as meatloaf, pot pie, and hashbrown casserole while her two young sons sit at the island and chop vegetables. “I feel like I’m in a grown-up forever home that the kids will always remember,” she says. “We just love it.”
Kimberly relocated the microwave from a corner cabinet opposite the range to the pantry, which created the space for a section of open shelving. “Chinoiserie Moderne” by Schumacher graces the wall here and behind the shelves of the glass-front cabinets for a pop of pattern that ties into the room’s color palette while fostering the lighter, brighter vibe the owners hoped to achieve. “Wallcoverings add another layer of dimension and bring color into the project that’s easy to change later,” Kimberly says.
Along with new quartz countertops and a fresh coat of navy blue paint (“Naval” by Sherwin-Williams), the island was stripped of its corbels to continue the streamlined feel of the cabinetry.
“Simple changes can make a big impact.”
—Kimberly Harper, designer
A small bar located between the kitchen and dining room was also transformed with glass-front cabinetry, a new countertop, and a small wine fridge. The paint color ties it to the kitchen island as well as other navy influences throughout the home, as does the wallcovering. “There’s a nice flow throughout the main living areas,” Kimberly says of the recurring design elements.
A wool rug and boldly patterned draperies add a punch of color in the formal dining room, while a printed grasscloth wallcovering marries texture and pattern. Inspired by the sorority house sophistication the owners envisioned, a beaded chandelier illuminates the table and chairs that once belonged to John’s mother. Kimberly also had the chairs recovered for a fresh take on the traditional set.
Interior design Kimberly Harper, Harper Howey Interiors Accessories Cobblestone & Vine Appliances Metro Appliances & More Cabinetry Justus Cabinets Countertops National Marble & Granite Flooring Wood Floor Gallery Lighting, tile, and wallpaper Harper Howey Interiors Paint Sherwin-Williams