Date: May 1, 2023 | Story: Rebekah Hall Scott | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Lauren Cerrato |
Jim and Mimi Hugg’s love for modern architecture inspires the renovation of their 1970 home
For Jim and Mimi Hugg, the renovation of their unique home was born from a mutual passion. “We believe in modern architecture, and we think it’s important to do this kind of architecture,” Jim says. “We also think it needs to be warm. It needs to be livable and comfortable, and we just love those clean lines that you get with modern design.”
Their home in the Prospect Terrace area of Little Rock was first built in 1970 by acclaimed architect Gene Levy, who was president of Cromwell Architects Engineers for many years. When the house went on the market in 2019, Mimi stopped by to view it while on a walk with a friend. The couple was not searching for a new home—at the time, they were living in a house they built from the ground up—but for Jim, the Levy house was a chance to revisit old stomping grounds. “It was always a house that I loved, quite honestly. Gene Levy built it for his family. They had three boys, and I knew those guys in high school,” Jim says, noting he and several friends have memories of good times spent there in the early ’80s.
Ready for their next project, Jim and Mimi purchased the home in December 2019 with plans to break ground on the renovation in February 2020. But with delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the full renovation process took about 26 months from start to finish, including six months working on the home’s design with architect Phil Purifoy of Fennell Purifoy Architects—a classmate of Jim’s at the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture.
Phil says when the Huggs approached him for the project, their goal was to preserve the historic design while creating modern, functional additions. “They wanted to keep the basic style of architecture intact but give it a more contemporary feel with the additions,” Phil says. “The additions really needed to complement the original architecture of the house.”
Krista Lewis of K. Lewis Interior Design, recommended to the couple by their real estate agent for the property, got involved with the project as Jim and Mimi were buying the residence. “They had some contemporary furniture pieces and a great art collection from their former home,” Krista says. “They were wanting to focus on incorporating those existing pieces into their new home.”
Together with contractor Jon Callahan, the team’s priority was to update and expand the living spaces of the home, including the addition of about 10 feet onto the back of the house. “By doing this, the kitchen and dining rooms got larger, and it also created a way for you to walk along the glass on the south side of each space, circulating around the kitchen and on both sides of the dining room,” Phil says. They also built onto the west side of the house to create a new garage and family room. “That whole addition made this house work so much better, the way it flows,” Jim says.
For Jim and Mimi, the home is the culmination of lessons learned over the years through previous renovation projects, and it is the perfect fit for their family. “We love it, and it feels like home,” Mimi says.
“We don’t want to leave,” Jim says. “Our kids love it. I think good architecture, which we’ve achieved, enhances your life. The natural light, the views, the way it flows, the indoor and outdoor access—it exceeded all expectations. Seeing it come together was a lot of fun, but living here is even better.”
Shown above: In the formal living room, an artful light fixture from the Huggs’ previous home draws the eye up to the 16-foot ceiling in the room’s center. The painting displayed on the travertine fireplace is by artist Dan Howard.
A painting by Arkansas artist George Dombek greets guests upon entry to the historic home, and curtains soften large windows flanking the front door to create a tone-on-tone effect with the neutral wall color. A clear sightline extends to the formal living room beyond.
Open & Airy
In the kitchen, the positions of the range and sink were swapped to create cleaner sight lines and a better flow. The Huggs kept the paneled refrigerator from the room’s former iteration and painted it a dark, crisp gray. Brass hardware warms up the cool tones of the cabinetry, and a durable quartzite used for the waterfall countertop and backsplash continue the home’s soothing, neutral color palette.
The addition of approximately 10 feet to the back of the house created space for a breakfast area, which was not part of the home’s original design.
In the sitting area off the kitchen, built-in shelving was added and the style of the hearth was changed to eliminate a ledge that occupied valuable square footage. “Mimi said, ‘We need more seating here, because everybody wants to hang out in that space right off the kitchen,’” Krista says. “There’s a big den and a big formal living room, but this is where everyone wants to be.” To this end, four navy tub chairs provide a cozy conversation area in the newly redefined space.
New Life for Family Pieces
Natural light floods the dining room, which features furniture the Huggs brought from their former home—including the dining table, buffet, and dining chairs. Krista recovered the chairs in gray leather and selected the multicolored rug to incorporate tones found in the couple’s art and furniture collection. A painting by Arkansas artist and architect John Allison hangs above the buffet.
In the formal living room, Krista selected a drum-style coffee table to anchor a mix of new and existing furnishings. Outdated built-ins were pulled out to create more wall space for the Huggs to display their art collection, and drinks tables placed throughout make the room ideal when entertaining. “Krista really thought of everything,” Mimi says.
Calm & Comfortable
During the renovation, Phil and his team discovered attic space above the primary bedroom that allowed them to “give a little more volume” to the quarters by raising the ceiling. “It was one of those things that we didn’t really plan for,” Phil says. “It was a nice surprise.” Krista continued the design’s neutral palette with warm brown tones all around. “For this wallpaper, we wanted something contemporary that was abstract, had a lot of the colors in the house, and would make that headboard pop,” she says.
The couple’s primary bathroom was completely redesigned with individual dressing areas and a reconfigured tub and shower. Mimi says the previous iteration of the room was “very ’70s, with pink cultured marble, a big step-up to the bath, and vanity bulbs everywhere.” After the renovation, she enjoys taking baths in the luxurious tub, especially for a relaxing soak in the evening. “I love it at night,” Mimi says. “I love that you can look out and see all the lights from the city.”
Built-ins and mirrored closets complement the sophisticated space and add ample storage.
Architect (original) Gene Levy, Cromwell Architects Engineers Architect (renovation) Phil Purifoy, Fennell Purifoy Architects Contractor Jon Callahan, Jon Callahan Construction Interior Design Krista Lewis, K. Lewis Interior Design Accessories, bedding, fabrics, lighting, mirrors, rugs, wallpaper, and window coverings K. Lewis Interior Design Appliances Metro Appliances & More Cabinetry and hardware Duke Custom Cabinetry Carpet and tile C & F Flooring and Rug Gallery Countertops Stone World Designs Fixtures Falk Plumbing Supply Flooring CB’s Custom Hardwoods Furniture Bear Hill Interiors and K. Lewis Interior Design Paint Sherwin-Williams Painting Get Painting Plumbing Westlake Plumbing Upholstery Howard’s Upholstery Wallpaper (installation) Lorita Herring Windows Pella