Date: July 29, 2022 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Steph Smith |
Maggie and Blake Chism embrace family life in a west Little Rock home that’s equal parts style and substance
After five years spent completing a medical residency and fellowship, Maggie and Blake Chism were ready to return to the Natural State. “We had lived in Memphis and, most recently, in Baltimore in a two-bedroom apartment with our three young children,” Maggie explains.With the light of a job for Blake in Little Rock at the end of the tunnel, the Chisms began the hunt for a home for their family of five.
“We had been looking at this house, and I wasn’t sure about it at first,” Maggie says. After living in two are as steeped in history, they were slightly hesitant about being in a newer part of the capital city. “But this neighborhood—all of the sudden—has an age to it in a really positive way,”she says of their west Little Rock subdivision. Moreover, the house was conducive to the family’s day-to-day lifestyle with enough bedrooms for them all to be on one floor, a huge backyard for play, and a garage. “Those were features we did not take for granted because we hadn’t had them before,”Maggie says. “Everything was just so livable.”
Perhaps even more alluring was the fact that the house would require only cosmetic updates. “The bones here were so strong, and I could really envision making it my own,” Maggie says. The couple planned to close on the home during a surprise trip to Little Rock for Maggie’s father’s birthday in March 2020, allowing them to slowly implement changes before their summer move. While they were in town, the COVID pandemic took off and the family’s situation changed. Thinking the worst would be over in a few weeks, Maggie and the children stayed behind with her parents while Blake returned to Maryland; however, a few weeks turned into a few months with Maggie spearheading the home’s renovation—which included adding extensive trim work, fresh coats of paint throughout, and new flooring—and Blake packing their belongings at the apartment. “I couldn’t believe the changes were just cosmetic,” Blake says about first seeing the transformation. “The trim work especially added a lot to the look and feel. This was the summer of 2020, during strange and uncertain times, so it was areal blessing to move from Baltimore to a settled home,”he adds.
To complement the refreshed structure, Maggie tapped into her natural bend toward traditional yet fresh furnishings, relaying that she is fond of the current grandmillennial aesthetic that mixes both. “Our generation has an endless supply of inspiration, so it can be challenging to know if you like something because you’ve seen it repeated on your feed or if it really speaks to you,” she says. To this point, she was intentional about everything from paint colors to photo frames. “I want to be sure it’s really something I love, and all the better if it has personal meaning,” she says.
As they have settled in, Maggie continues to tweak the design. For example, the bedroom originally designated for their son turned out to be more conducive to an office, while the antique chairs she fell in love with for the breakfast nook now seem better suited to another season of life. “A family home is like a family: always evolving,” Maggie says. “If you enjoy design and interiors, you’re going to be continually inspired. Over time, justas the family grows and their needs change, the house becomes more layered—hopefully always increasing in richness and depth. It’s a wonderful thing to imagine staying here for the foreseeable future and knowing that20-plus years from now the home will reflect all the life lived within these walls.
A day in the life of the Chisms: Chip, Mary Martin, and Grace Abbott get out their giggles on the living room sofa.
FRESH & LIVABLE
“The number one thing I want people to feel when they come into our home—no matter their age—is a warm welcome,” Maggie says. Wanting to make the spacious living room feel as warm as possible, Maggie started by adding picture frame molding to the walls to bring dimension. A green velvet sofa, matchstick blinds paired with soft curtains, a large unifying rug, and wooden furnishings also convey coziness. A pair of caned wingback chairs once belonged to Maggie’s grandmother.“My mom and dad actually had their prom picture made sitting in these chairs,” she says with a laugh. A fresh coat of paint and new upholstery updated them for the next generation.
The Chisms updated the kitchen with new countertops and hardware as well as fresh paint. The same green hue seen in the adjoining breakfast nook was also used on the island.
In a bit of kismet, Maggie pulled the breakfast nook’s green hue from the base of an antique occasional table that is now in the living room. A Serena & Lily wallpaper happened to perfectly match and was added to draw the eye upward. “I think for most people, the fear with wallpaper is not knowing if you’re going to love it over time. It’s an investment so you want it to be something you really like,” Maggie says. Now a favorite dining perch for the Chism children, the church pew was the first piece of furniture Maggie’s parents purchased after they married.
Natural light, one of Maggie’s favorite things about the home, spills into the dining room adjoining the kitchen. Subtle touches of blush pink show up in the wallpaper and draperies without creating an overly feminine space. Maggie found the bamboo chairs at Jenifer’sAntiques in Conway and had cushions and throw pillows made to create comfortable host chairs at the table.
“A family home is like a family: always evolving.”
PINK & BLUE
As with many of the spaces, Maggie brought dimension to the children’s bedrooms by adding paneling on a portion of the walls. In the girls’ room, a light pink sets a sweet tone while a deep blue adds to the outdoorsy, Western theme in their young son’s space.
A pair of comfortable round-back chairs create a conversation area in the home office. “We only have the one big living space, so I wanted something a little more intimate where we could sit and talk with adult friends,” Maggie says. The desk once belonged to her brother. “I love the traditional style but it’s also personally meaningful,” she says.
A QUIET RETREAT
Loving the look of handpainted wallpaper but not wanting the expense or expanse of a full wall, Maggie ordered a pair of panels from Etsy and framed them to create a statement in the primary bedroom. A partners desk from Jenifer’s Antiques serves as a bedside table. The bamboo style of the light fixture, caning on the side chair, and blush hue are elements repeated from other rooms in the home and subtly unite the spaces.
Accessories Cobblestone & Vine and Tipton & Hurst Countertops Triton Stone Group Fabrics Cynthia East Fabrics Flooring Cash Flooring Furniture Jenifer’s Antiques Millwork Carlos Manuel Paint Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams Painting Keith Holland Tile (backsplash) The Tile Shop Wallpaper (installation) Mike Mace Window coverings (living room) Drape & Design Co.