Date: September 26, 2019 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Lauren Cerrato & Cate Willis |
After working with the former owners of this Little Rock home—and falling in love with its bones—designer Mona Thompson bought the residence and reimagined it as her own.
Less than five years ago, Mona Thompson and her sister Talena Ray, co-owners of Little Rock’s Providence Design, were hired by a Memphis couple building a home in west Little Rock. While the sisters’ signature style appealed to the homeowners, the home itself appealed to Mona. “I have always loved this house, and I told the couple, If you ever get ready to sell, please call me first,” she says.
As fate would have it, the day to sell came just a few years after the project was complete. Mona and her late husband, Don, felt it was the opportune time for them to downsize and put their own spin on the home, which features all of its living spaces as well as two bedrooms and a study on the ground floor. “This home is wonderfully laid out. It’s so conducive to entertaining and bringing the outdoors in and the indoors out,” Mona says, noting she made no changes to the floor plan.
Because the square footage was smaller than their previous homes, editing was crucial. “Everything in this house is something I really, truly love,” Mona says. For example, the couple’s art collection, carefully curated over the span of three decades, fills the walls with character as well as memories. “Don and I collected for 31 years, and I see him in every bit of it,” she says. The same goes for numerous antiques, from sideboards to sconces, that fill the rooms; each is unique and special, containing a story that reminds Mona of a favorite trip to Round Top or a beloved friend.
Alongside these treasured pieces, the vibe is equal parts comfortable and current—with nothing feeling too precious for use or dated in its present tense, no matter its age. The designer notes the airy, neutral wall color along with lighter accessories play to this effect. “I don’t think authenticity ever goes out of style. If something is authentic and it means something to you, then it’s going to work anywhere. What makes it more current are the fabrics, accessories, and paint colors it is paired with,” she says, noting there are 19th and 20th century pieces from France, Italy, and Belgium alongside contemporary acrylic tables and reproductions in the home. “At this point in my life, lighter and fresher is probably going to be better for me forever. I love to bring color in with pillows and accessories, but you know you can look back at the work of really good designers that’s 15, 20, or even 25 years old with light, neutral walls, and it still looks fresh and timeless,” the designer says.
In addition to the interiors, Mona was taken with a screened back porch. The area has views of a gently sloping backyard and the greenspace beyond while connecting to the interior dining room, thus offering an uninterrupted flow for entertaining. “I love to be outside, and I can be out there and I feel like I’m anywhere,” Mona says. Stacey Stafford with Stafford Fine Gardening helped Mona create a retreat with stairs that lead to a second terraced part of the yard and incorporate her collection of planters, antique benches, and statuary pieces. “He helped create a garden that is just as beautiful from the inside of my home as from the outside, and I enjoy it every single day,” she says.
The screened porch connects the dining room to the backyard, and with room for grilling, dining, and reading by the fire, it’s a favorite spot for Mona.
Comfortable & Curated
The walls of the designer’s previous home had a warm-toned paint color. Moving to this residence gave her the opportunity for a fresh backdrop that allows the art and furnishings—particularly those shown here in the living room—to stand out. “I loved the idea of a lighter color scheme, but I wasn’t about to start painting my entire house,” Mona laughs. “I thought, I’ll have to wait until I get a new house to do all that.” Many of the furnishings were also recovered in fresh fabrics. Underfoot, a sisal rug adds a casual air while a new upholstered sofa is a relaxing spot to unwind and watch TV at night.
A pair of chests, which flanked the fireplace in Mona’s former house, took up residency in the same place here. “We had to take the baseboards off to make them fit,” Mona says. “If they were an inch bigger they wouldn’t have worked, and I would have had to get rid of them because they didn’t fit anywhere else in the house.”
A Whole New Blue
Blue and white have long been a favorite pairing of the Providence Design team; however, this was the first time Mona used the combo in her personal home. “I committed to blue when I decided to paint the kitchen cabinets a beautiful slate color and continued on with a softer blue in the renovation of the master bath and bedroom,” Mona says. “I don’t think I will ever tire of it, but, if I do, it’s just paint.” She kept the existing quartzite countertops and hired Phinality Design (who also painted the cabinets) to create a finish for the range hood and island that gives it the look of bleached oak. A graphic marble backsplash adds to the room’s transitional feel.
In the pantry, Mona had a custom-finished shiplap installed as the backsplash and built a wine rack in one of the open shelves. A painting by Zac Woodiel titled “Grigio Girls” hangs over the bar sink.
The home has only one dining space, so it was important to Mona that it be large enough to accommodate at least a dozen for holiday gatherings and special occasions. Many of the pieces in the dining room have found new life in this configuration. For example, she says the chandelier has seen several interpretations of paint and crystals that allowed it to fit into each of her homes. Similarly, the side chairs were Don’s before the couple married and “have been refinished, painted, and recovered numerous times,” Mona says. The artwork depicts Jesus as a boy in the temple with the teachers. “We’ve had it in different places at different houses but never this front and center. I think it’s found its favorite spot here.”
“I don’t think authenticity ever goes out of style. If something is authentic and it means something to you, then it’s going to work anywhere.” —Mona Thompson
The biggest change indoors came in the master suite, where Mona reoriented the flow of the bedroom and made numerous updates to the bath to reflect her aesthetic. “I changed the wall the bed was positioned on because I wanted to walk into the room and see it straight on rather than looking into the side of it,” the designer says. In the bath, she kept the existing cabinetry but traded white walls for a geometric wallpaper. New sconces, a chandelier over the tub, marble flooring, and soft sheers complete the design.
Contractor Mary Jane Herr, M.J. Herr, Inc. Interior design Mona Thompson, Providence Design Kitchen design Doug Duke, Duke Custom Cabinets Landscape design Stacey Stafford, Stafford Fine Gardening Accessories, fixtures, furniture, lighting, and outdoor furnishings Providence Design Accessories (seasonal) Park Hill Home Appliances Metro Appliances & More Cabinetry Duke Custom Cabinets Countertops (kitchen) Triton Stone and Stone World Designs Countertops (bathroom) Stone World Designs Fabrics Cynthia East Fabrics, Designer Effects, and Providence Design Fireplace Olympia Precast Flooring Acme Brick, Tile & Stone and ProSource of Little Rock Furniture (master bed) Iron Paws by Anthony Billingsley Hardware Duke Custom Cabinets and Plumbing Warehouse Paint Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams Painting (decorative) Phinality Design Wallpaper Designer Effects Window coverings Mountjoy’s Custom Draperies