Date: May 3, 2022 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Steph Smith |
A west Little Rock couple enlists local pros to update their gathering spaces
Family and time together were the driving forces behind the renovation of this home’s main living areas. Having built the house more than two decades ago, the couple were ready for a more contemporary, open floor plan as well as a style update. “We have a large extended family and love to host during the holidays and entertain throughout the year,” one of the homeowners says. “Our kitchen was tight and the living room wasn’t being used as much because it was shut off.”
They assembled a team who could see beyond walls and columns to create defined, cohesive areas for cooking, dining, and relaxing. “We called Ellen Yeary at Yeary Lindsey Architects, and she really listened to us and worked to get the floor plan just right,” the owner says. They also brought in trusted interior designer Mona Thompson Phelan of Providence Design, with whom they had worked previously. “When someone is looking at doing a renovation, we always ask, What’s not working for you?” the designer says. “For them, it was all about creating spaces that were not shut off from one another and giving it a newer, lighter look—which is what we do.”
With the beginnings of the plan in place, Mona introduced the couple to Nathan Cooper of River Valley Builders to bring the ideas to life. “We do a lot of remodels, and what they were ultimately trying to accomplish was more space for their family,” he says. Nathan notes that opening up a walled-off central staircase, removing the dated columns, and building a large island were key to achieving this. “The sitting room was closed off because of the kitchen columns, so after the remodel it really felt like four rooms became one,” he adds.
“Honestly, this was one of the easiest renovations,” the homeowner says, recalling the makeshift kitchen she was able to create upstairs and how Nathan’s team blocked off the living room to contain the mess. “It was a big project but this is our family home—our forever home—and now every time I walk in the kitchen I get excited.”
IN THE FLOW
A sitting room with a second television and plenty of additional seating gives guests another nearby spot to lounge without crowding the kitchen. Damask-print drapes carry from the dining room, creating continuity between the spaces.
REINVENTING THE HUB
Reconfiguring the floor plan to allow for a larger island—meaning increased space for prep and casual dining—was the starting point of the kitchen. Nathan and his team removed the former peninsula, creating a continuous flow into the adjoining sitting area and dining space. Travertine floors were traded for hardwoods that seamlessly match the existing ones in the living room, while the entire room was given a lighter palette.
The homeowner found Kitchen Kandy, a small, Dallas-based hood company, via Instagram and worked with them to customize the range hood. “I was so impressed with their level of commitment, and I really think the hood is the showpiece of the kitchen,” she says. “It’s like the finishing touch of lipstick on the space.”
A former powder room was transformed into a chic wet bar. Glass-front panels and a custom Walker Zanger backsplash add polish to the space. “We had originally planned to put a door here, but it was too pretty to hide,” Nathan says.
The laundry room gained square footage by removing lockers and a bench that were more purposeful when the couple’s children were younger. A catchall desk was added to serve as a mail drop station, while the large-scale wallpaper and backsplash bring style to the utilitarian space.
ALL THE COMFORTS
While the biggest change to the living room came in widening the door casing and creating a clear channel for both foot traffic and conversation, a shift in furnishings also ushered in a new tone. “The living room was too formal for them before,” says Mona. To remedy this, she specified comfortable seating and accessories in a light palette that is cohesive with the rest of the downstairs area. Nathan added built-in bookcases to provide storage on either side of the cast stone fireplace.
ARCHITECT Ellen Yeary, Yeary Lindsey Architects CONTRACTOR Nathan Cooper, River Valley Builders INTERIOR DESIGN Mona Thompson Phelan and Talena Ray, Providence Design CABINETRY Duke Custom Cabinets FLOORING McMillion Hardwood Floors HARDWARE PC Hardware PAINTING Finishing Touch Painting MILLWORK Tony Carmack Trim WINDOW COVERINGS Mountjoy’s Draperies