Date: February 21, 2022 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Stephanie Maxwell Newton |
A west Little Rock couple transforms their backyard into a getaway with the help of local professionals
“Everyone who knows me knows this is my dream house,” says Kelli Heathman of the home she and her husband, Dr. Monty Heathman, share. The bones of the house—its French country influence, in particular—spoke to her tastes, and since moving here in 2015, she and designer Mona Thompson Phelan have worked to refresh furnishings and accents throughout the interiors. Recently, they turned their attention to the outdoors, bringing in David Munsey, III, of Better Lawns & Gardens to create a retreat. “I travel a lot for work so I wanted a place where I could relax on the weekends,” Kelli says. “Plus, we love to entertain and both wanted an area where there was plenty of room for guests and a flow of different spaces to welcome them.”
Beyond the home’s existing covered porch and fireplace was a spacious, wooded lot ripe with opportunity for all their desires—from a pool and lounge area to an outdoor kitchen. “Our goals were to make sure it didn’t feel too detached from the home and that from inside they had a panoramic view of the outdoor area,” David says. He notes the space’s terraced landscape draws one to look out from the back porch, walk down to the pool area, and then continue on to the outdoor kitchen. “There’s a natural progression, and when you look out from the home you get this as well,” he says.
Attention to detail was also given to the structure’s form, the materials, and the palette so the space would appear as though it was constructed when the home was built. “We really worked hard on the front end of this design before we began construction,” David says. “It was her vision coming to life.” A key element of this was adhering to the existing aesthetic. “This is a very French country, traditional style with a lighter palette of cream and soft blues. Even the structure has a chateau look,” says Mona, who sourced furnishings and accessories that were an extension of what is seen in the interior of the house.
“We tried to think of anything and everything because this is our forever home,” Kelli says. “It’s so tranquil and relaxing that we spend all of our free time here. We used to go out for date nights but now we just head to the backyard.”
From the sconces to the brick on the island and limestone fireplace, the backyard pavilion was influenced by the home’s French country aesthetic. The archway mimics those seen on the covered porch while also providing ventilation and leading to a powder bath located behind the wall.
Chef’s Central Station
“Since they like to entertain, the Heathmans wanted to have all the amenities of a full kitchen outdoors to keep from running back into the house,” David says. The space is equipped with a sink, refrigerated drawers, and a smoker with a side burner. A mounted television allows them to watch the game from the bar, pool, or lounge area. “Since everyone gathers in the kitchen—even outside—we built it to accommodate a crowd,” he adds.
In the Swing
A porch swing was a must-have for Kelli, who says she loves relaxing in either a swing or rocker. “It’s funny because you can say these are in style right now, but growing up in North Carolina, they’ve always been a part of my home,” she says.
“We used to go out for date nights but now we just head to the backyard.” —Kelli Heathman, homeowner
Walnut-hued travertine offers a natural base for the surround, while a PebbleTec finish gives the look of brilliant blue ocean water on the pool’s interior. The shallow end offers stool perches with a counter ledge as well as a swim-up bar and water features.
The covered porch’s arched doorways and limestone mantel inspired the form and materials of the backyard pavilion.
Contractor, landscape design and installation David Munsey, III, Better Lawns & Gardens Interior design Mona Thompson Phelan, Providence Design Appliances, fireplace, and flooring Antique Brick Outdoors Audio/Visual JTEC-AV Countertops Affordable Granite Electrical Jacobs Electric & Communication Lighting (sconces) Light Innovations Millwork Creative Restoration & Design Outdoor furnishings Antique Brick Outdoors and Providence Design Paint Sherwin-Williams Painting Victor’s Painting Pool (installation) Brooks Pool Co.