Date: June 25, 2021 | Story: Stephanie Maxwell Newton | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Steph Smith |
Following family tradition, Rachel and Buddy Harding create a Lake Ouachita getaway perfectly suited for generations of gatherings
For Rachel Harding, a trip to the lake is about more than getting away. Having spent time growing up on Lake Ouachita at her father’s cabin—affectionately dubbed Parker Pointe, after his surname—she dreamed of having a place of her own one day. “Some of my most cherished childhood memories were coming out here,” she says. “There was no city water, so you were literally washing your hair off the back of the boat. There were no phones, no televisions here; we would just play games and be with family. It is a place I’ve always felt so connected to and happy about.”
When Rachel and her husband, Buddy, were expecting their second child, they found the perfect spot for a place to call their own: A lot with two cabins had become available just down the road from Parker Pointe. Having designed their primary residence in Little Rock, Rachel already had a vision for the vacation home, and she called on the late Matthew Sarver, a local builder, to help bring it to life. Together, they decided the best route was to knock down and rebuild the main house while remodeling the smaller cottage nearby. “He was such a calm, go-with-the-flow, fun guy, and the whole process of remodeling and building with him was that way,” Rachel says.
The end result is as much inspired by her father’s lake house as her own down-to-earth style. For example, the eat-in kitchen, white-washed knotty pine walls, and its name—Harding Hideaway—are all callbacks to those childhood memories, while the airy palette and comfortable furnishings help the family of four feel right at home.
Walk Right In
The entry was the starting point for the home’s design. “I’d been thinking about having my own lake house my whole life, and as I started to get out graph paper and draw it, I could see this walk-in entry dividing the spaces,” Rachel says. The welcoming foyer separates the master suite and a guest bed and bath from the living spaces and bunk rooms on the other side of the house. Across from the front door is an exit to the back deck and a short trail leading to the water’s edge.
Harding Hideaway’s great room is centered around two-story windows with a view out over the treetops. Here, the roofline accentuates the ceiling’s exposed beams, and décor plays off the different wood tones in the space. Because Rachel and Buddy love to entertain, she kept the palette neutral to serve as a backdrop for colorful flowers and party decorations. The furnishings and their arrangement were also chosen with these gatherings in mind; a daybed and large leather ottomans provide seating without closing off conversation areas. Near the windows, four comfortable armchairs are perfect for family game nights as well as morning coffee.
Two For One
Because the home’s only indoor dining space is in the kitchen, the homeowner was mindful of ways in which the room could truly function as both. Rolling chairs with low backs that tuck neatly out of the way allow the long dining table to also serve as a prep space and buffet. Cabinet-front panels on appliances like the dishwasher, ice maker, and refrigerator keep the design seamless. Overhead, an antler-inspired chandelier from Pottery Barn calls to mind the rustic furnishings of Rachel’s father’s lakeside home.
Be Our Guests
Part of Rachel’s inspiration in building Harding Hideaway was to share it with as many friends and family members as possible. Thus, an abundance of guest beds was a top priority. “The more beds, the better, so I tried to tuck in as many as I could in this house,” she says. In the tower, a built-in bunk (complete with a trundle underneath) is where the Hardings’ sons—Five, 8, and Wilder, 4—spend their nights. Downstairs, built-in queen beds are just right for grown-up slumber parties. “We have Galentine’s Day parties up here, and I’ve had reunions with my college roommates; I just love a good girls trip,” Rachel says. The plaid wallpaper is an ageless accent that can transition over time as the Harding boys use this space for their sleepovers.
Relaxed & Refined
The master suite is a calming retreat for Rachel and Buddy. In the bedroom, an industrial four-poster bed is juxtaposed with soft linens. “I love my bedroom at home, but this one is cozier,” Rachel says. In the adjoining bathroom, a “massive shower” was one of the things on the homeowners’ wish list. The rainfall shower head and window give the feeling of being outdoors, while a mix of ceramic and marble tiles carry the home’s warm neutrals into the space.
“I wanted it to be warm and natural and comfortable, but still look pretty. I also thought it should feel like a lake house.” —Rachel Harding
Just steps from the main house is the smaller structure original to the lot. In keeping with tradition, Rachel christened this house, too: Critter Cottage. “It was already in great shape. It needed updating, but with the knotty pine and rock fireplace, it was exactly what a lake house should be,” she says. Here, Matthew’s team enclosed the lofted bedrooms upstairs, redid the flooring, and installed new cabinetry in the kitchen. While the walls were given a refresh with white paint, the ceilings were left in their original stain.
Cooking with Style
Rachel fell in love with a Caitlin Wilson wallpaper (“Soft Blue Chinoiserie,” a pattern also seen on throw pillows here and in the main house) and used this to bring an air of whimsy to the cottage. She pulled a deep green hue (“Essex Green” by Benjamin Moore) from this pattern for the cabinetry color, which also references the green exterior on the windows for a cohesive design.
Builder Matthew Sarver, Sarver Construction Draftsman Nathan Alderson, Alderson Design Company Appliances Metro Appliances & More Cabinets Mike Abernathy Custom Cabinets Countertops Pacific Shore Stones Fireplace Royal Overhead Door & Fireplace Flooring and tile ProSource of Little Rock Lighting and fixtures Sanders Supply Co. Millwork and windows CJ Horner Mirrors Todd Davis Glass Paint Benjamin Moore Painting Chris Cox