Date: January 5, 2023 | Story: Tate Gunnerson | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Lauren Cerrato |
A Benton couple builds a comfortable, elegant waterfront home with the help of Providence Design’s Mona Thompson Phelan
Abigail Otwell enjoyed watching the sunset from the lot her new home is situated on years before she ever lived on it. At the time, the undeveloped property on Benton’s Hurricane Lake was not far from the residence she shared with her husband, Taylor, and their children, James and Birdy. Upon learning it was for sale, they knew straightaway the site would be the perfect spot for their new home.
Abigail describes the family’s previous house as having low ceilings and few windows, creating a dark, crowded feeling inside. She envisioned something more open and airy this time around. After starting construction with Rye Custom Homes & Design, the couple reached out to Mona Thompson Phelan of Little Rock’s Providence Design for guidance in bringing their vision to life. “We were kind of overwhelmed with the amount of space and high ceilings,” Abigail says of her decision to call on a professional. “I wanted it to feel cozy and welcoming.”
Because she joined the project at such an early date, Mona was able to help infuse the new build with style through simple yet impactful architectural changes. These included arched niches on either side of the living room fireplace, millwork on the walls in the formal dining area, and a linear steel railing for the front stairway. “The style is clean, fresh, and modern with some traditional elements,” Mona says. She also advised the Otwells to opt for draperies where possible rather than window shades. Custom drapes frame the lake views while offering the option of privacy, and their softness adds to that inviting feeling Abigail desired. “Layers make a room feel really comfortable,” Mona says of the effect.
For the rest of the furnishings and finishes, the designer employed a neutral palette with hints of glam, which are evident particularly in the home’s elegant light fixtures. Dramatic glass chandeliers enhance the sense of glamour in both dining areas—even over the informal breakfast table—as well as in bedrooms. “Lighting is like jewelry, and it’s a talking point,” Mona says.
After nearly 14 months of planning and construction, Mona instructed Abigail and Taylor to stay away for the final installation of lighting, wallpaper, and furniture. “Even though they had seen our vision boards and been a part of the process, it’s a real surprise to walk into a room and see it all put together for the first time,” the designer says. In the end, the great reveal was exactly as she had hoped. “It was overwhelming and so amazing,” Abigail says. “Everything was even better than I had expected.”
“The style is clean, fresh, and modern with some traditional elements.”
—Mona Thompson Phelan, designer
Because the homeowners enjoy hosting friends and family, a spacious kitchen was high on their list of priorities. Double islands with porcelain countertops allow plenty of space to prepare food while also entertaining guests. Playing off the brass pendants and hardware, a metallic inlay in the marble backsplash adds a hint of shine that’s a hallmark throughout the interiors. A set of cabinet doors lead to a hidden pantry.
IN PERFECT SYMMETRY
In the spacious living room, a cast stone fireplace flanked by arched niches creates a commanding focal point that befits the high ceilings. A pair of neutral sofas and geometric-patterned pillows bring a modern sensibility to the transitional space while pedestal side tables call to mind the columns found in ancient structures, which is like “a modern interpretation of traditional architecture,” Mona says.
A well-appointed pantry is concealed behind cabinet doors in the kitchen. Here, the home’s navy accents reappear in the cabinetry (“Blue Note” by Benjamin Moore) and a mesmerizing Roman shade fabric. Birdy, who loves to bake, is a big fan of using the custom space to prep treats for the whole family.
The formal dining area blends a mix of new and old elements. To wit, a pair of contemporary chandeliers hang over a reproduction antique table, while abstract art and brass-framed chairs upholstered in a bold geometric pattern give the room a modern aesthetic. Though reserved primarily for holiday dinners and gatherings, the family of four also enjoys using the space for puzzles and game nights.
PUNCH OF PINK
Abigail’s favorite time to enjoy the “pretty parlor” off the foyer is the weekend, when she can curl up with a cup of coffee and the family’s toy poodles to enjoy the feminine retreat Mona designed especially for her. Here, the home’s neutral palette takes on a pink tint, with floral-covered armchairs adding a dynamic accent.
Pale pink walls and draperies with a custom valance establish a romantic milieu for 10-year-old Birdy’s bedroom. A beaded chandelier by Visual Comfort illuminates the space, and a canopy bed and bedside lamps adorned with acrylic butterflies add whimsical touches. “She’s a girly girl who loves shopping and spending time with her mother,” Mona says. “It was fun doing something elegant for a child.”
Birdy’s ensuite bath continues the sweet and elevated aesthetic established in her bedroom. Paint color is “First Light” by Benjamin Moore.
A wall of draperies adds softness and a touch of drama behind a custom iron bed in the couple’s primary bedroom. From here, Abigail and Taylor can take in the sunsets that first drew them to this lot for their dream home. A pair of glass table lamps and a modern glass chandelier balance the room’s more traditional bedside chests and Greek key-trimmed draperies.
Contractor Phillip Rye, Rye Custom Homes & Design Interior Design Mona Thompson Phelan, Providence Design Accessories, art, bedding, fabrics, furniture, lighting, mirrors, and wallpaper Providence Design Appliances Metro Appliances & More Cabinetry Moody Cabinets Countertops Countertop World Fixtures Falk Plumbing Flooring, tile, and windows Lumber One Home Center Paint Benjamin Moore Rugs Hadidi Rug Gallery and Providence Design Window coverings Mountjoy’s Custom Draperies and Providence Design