Date: June 23, 2008 | Story: Laura Keech Allen |
When Kevin Walsh and Brett Pitts, co-owners of Bear-Hill Interiors in Little Rock, began looking for a lake house in Hot Springs, the size and look of the space were not their first considerations. They were much more interested in their home’s surroundings than its interior, which meant that they were immediately able to see the beauty in the modest, 900-square-foot home on a secluded area of Lake Hamilton called Little Mazarn Creek. “The minute I saw the vaulted ceilings and the spectacular window with the amazing view of the lake I was sold,” says Kevin.
Built in 1969, the home’s unusual architecture is described by Kevin as “a little bit ranch and a little bit tree house.” Once he and Brett had made it their own, they immediately embarked on an ambitious renovation, lead by Scott Beard and his crew at Beard-Breeding Construction. Not only did they gut the kitchen, relocate the laundry room and extend the deck, they also changed almost every aesthetic element of the structure, replacing all the doors and flooring, and painting every wall, inside and out.
Conceptualizing the design of the space was an incredible adventure for Kevin, who also enlisted the help of his sister Susan, a designer with Bear-Hill. “Susan looked at everything,” he says, “usually after we had both put in a full day working on clients’ projects.” To make the most of the small, yet incredibly open space and the lush wilderness that surrounds it, Kevin decided to keep the interior very cohesive, with a simple color scheme of white and brown. “I didn’t want to take anything away from the view,” he says, “so I incorporated a lot of elements that can be seen through, like the fretwork dining chairs, along with glass and other reflective surfaces.”
The perfect complement to these subtle furnishings is a selection of white upholstery in a variety of textures, along with raffia and sisal. For a bit of visual oomph, he added graphic brown and white pillows, along with an eclectic selection of accessories, ranging from Jonathan Adler pottery to vintage glass birds on the mantel. “Our mothers were, of course, a little afraid of all the white,” says Kevin, “but we’ve assured them, and all our friends, that it’s all washable, and that it’s meant to be enjoyed.”
And enjoying the house is certainly what Brett and Kevin do, year-round. “We love entertaining on the deck in the warmer months,” says Kevin, “but during the winter, Brett and I love to relax with a fire and a movie or hang out cooking in the kitchen.” As an added bonus, because Kevin’s family hails from Hot Springs, the lake house has become a hub for everyone to gather together.
Thanks to the incredibly comfortable outdoor areas, the home lives much larger than its footprint. “I think most people are surprised that it’s only nine hundred square feet, because the main living space with the expansive window feels large and open,” Kevin says. And despite the long hours the design and renovation required, the biggest surprise for both Brett and Kevin has been “just how much we love being there.”