Ever wonder what it’s like to build a house from the ground up? As the owner of J. Lawrence Design, Jill Lawrence has had the opportunity to walk-through the process with numerous clients. Now it’s her turn, and she’s giving us an exclusive behind-the-scenes look here on the At Home in Arkansas blog. Follow along as we chronicle each stage before the big reveal in our October 2022 issue.
At Home in Arkansas: The walls are up and it’s time to turn your focus to some of the interior selections—which I’m sure you’ve been thinking about for months. Can you tell us about some of the overarching choices you’ve made?
Jill Lawrence: Sure! One of the biggest things is the cork flooring. We only have two types of flooring in the house: cork and limestone. Because this is an open-concept house and because we are empty nesting here, I wanted flooring that would absorb acoustic energy and also be easy on our joints. We landed on cork for both those reasons. We used it for all the main spaces, and we have loved it so far! A room the size of our kitchen/living/dining area would typically echo; if you were listening to the TV the sound quality would be bad or you wouldn’t be able to hear a conversation. These really absorb the background noise and, along with the fabrics, have made it so quiet because they take in so much sound.
AHIA: It sounds like the cork flooring has so many benefits. Does it also match your style?
JL: Yes, it’s got an underlying Asian vibe, and there are subtle hints to that all throughout our home. It is also incredibly durable, which is a match for us. It comes with a 10-year warranty. As an added bonus, it’s very eco-friendly. There are a lot of things in this house I was the guinea pig on and if it didn’t work, it was my house, not a client’s.
AHIA: What other materials are you loving?
JL: I’m so pleased with the ironwork and tread on our floating stairs. These lead from the hallway between our bedroom and the living spaces to the second floor. Khanh Nguyen at Iron World has done a ton of staircases for my clients throughout the years. He built it completely, and we used Kaufman to create huge, handmade and laminated white oak stair treads. It was part of the original plan to have this staircase be floating and allow the light to come through the windows in this space.
AHIA: What about the palette? How did you determine that?
JL: One of the first things we chose was the kitchen countertops, which actually determined the color palette for the entire house. For the first time ever, I did not have a lead fabric; I had a lead stone. I don’t think I’ve ever done a house that was based off a stone, but this just spoke to me. All the colors—the taupes, off-blacks, browns, creams, and terracotta tones—came from this slab that we bought before we even broke ground.
I’m typically conservative when it comes to stone selection for clients. I choose something light and safe that they won’t tire of easily. But, we were going for a hotel lobby vibe. And with that, the bar itself normally makes a statement.
My husband and daughter were with me when we looked and we all said that’s it; that’s the one. It’s called “Jurassico” marble. It is so aptly named because it looks and feels like a fossil. There are big gaps filled in with resin. The whole thing is rough, and it gave Countertop World fits to fabricate because it has so many fissures. But, they did an absolutely amazing job!
Want to see this house come together? Stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes pics, inspiration, and insight on our blog, and don’t miss the October issue of At Home in Arkansas that will feature the full house reveal.