For a classic southern belle like Betty Chadduck, it’s only fitting that her home in Little Rock’s Heights neighborhood reflects the grace and charm of the Old South. The cottage-style house, built in 1949, was exactly what Betty wanted. ”It’s small, but it’s just fine for me,” she says.
Visitors enter the house to find a traditional-style living room, with blue walls and coordinating wall coverings by Cynthia East Fabrics. A striking antique Indian painting centers the couch, while delicate powder blue accessories tie the room together. “I love the character of this home,” Betty says, “especially the original touches such as the floors, mouldings and windows.”
Betty completely renovated the kitchen by painting the walls a cool sage green and giving the knotty pine cabinets new doors and contemporary silver hardware. She enclosed the back porch off of the kitchen, creating a breakfast room with large pass-through and outfitted with a Chippendale iron table. She focused on crafting the downstairs guest bedroom into a relaxing retreat with ocean inspired hues and an arrangement of seashells. An antique coat rack in the room prominently displays her hat collection. “The smallest hat was mine as a girl,” she says.
One of the home’s most striking spaces is the master bedroom. “In the beginning everything was taupe,” she says, “but little by little I’ve added more color.” The walls boast a rich, chocolate brown, complemented by the handmade nightstand and dresser. The exquisite four-poster mahogany bed was also custom-made and is accented with pillows created by Betty’s daughter.
Once an unfinished attic, the upstairs has been transformed into a vibrant and cheerful room for guests complete with a half bath. Betty’s vision for the space was clear from the beginning. “I wanted everything white, even the floors,” she says. She chose red as a strong accent color for the space, and it’s found in everything from the curtains and pillows to the vanity. The room boasts several sentimental touches, including two iron beds, which belonged to her grandmother, and the adorable sock monkey, which was a favorite toy of Betty’s daughter.
Looking at a home and seeing its innate potential is at the heart of Gary and Cathy Pursell’s work through Creative Heights Partners, their full-service design-build firm. The duo specializes in creating spaces influenced by European architecture which also function beautifully for the modern family. Their projects’ numerous outdoor living areas and flexible floor plans are joined by casual and intimate, yet surprisingly dramatic rooms for entertaining a crowd or hanging out with the kids, creating a style that is uniquely their own.
All of these philosophies were in play when the began renovating a home at the corner of Van Buren and Country Club in Little Rock’s Heights neighborhood as a spec project a few years ago, not yet sure whether or not they would move in. “We design every house with a mindset of ‘How would we want to live in this house, and what would make it work?’” Cathy says. So when they received an offer on their previous home, they jumped at the chance and relocated their two home offices, three children—Sarah Catherine Cook and Hanna and Wesley Pursell—and one dog into the newly remodeled home.
The home’s intense renovation changed almost everything about it, from the size and footprint to the location of the front door, which is now the centerpiece of a long, gallery-style porch facing Country Club, inspired by Cathy’s Louisiana roots. “The front porch is actually one of my favorite spots,” she says, “especially when it’s raining.” Although the house was expanded from about 1,800 square feet to 5,600 square feet, only three of the original rooms on the Van Buren side remained untouched, becoming Gary and Cathy’s offices and an adjacent powder bath. “The two offices are a must since we both work from home,” Cathy says. “I cannot work in Gary’s chaos, and he cannot stand my organization.”
Expanding the downstairs to include a stunning master suite allowed the upstairs to become the kids’ domain, with a separate entrance for 20-year-old Wesley’s quarters, large rooms for the girls and plenty of hangout spaces for their friends. Downstairs, the open living room and kitchen serve as the family’s home base, with the secluded backyard courtyard offering an additional living area. “The backyard was actually the initial inspiration,” Cathy says. “Gary and I will often start there, as the outside rooms of a property are so important to us. We absolutely loved all the trees in the yard and the opportunity to make a private living area for this home.”
Inside, Cathy introduced a neutral color scheme to bring attention to the interplay between outside and in, as well as the home’s stunning architecture, with soaring ceiling, exposed beams and eclectic touches. Natural materials ease the transition as well, with stone, antique oak and heated concrete flooring and pecky cypress cabinetry.
With a love of good design at the heart of this family, it’s only natural that they have such a visually stunning and practically functional space in which to live and work. Thanks to their home’s flexibility, it’s become the perfect spot for both a professional couple and groups of busy teenagers, and for both family time around the fireplace and elegant dinner parties.
Landscape architect Carl Smith was photographed in a garden at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, which has a variety of sustainable features designed by university alumnus Stuart Fulbright.
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.”
Heber Springs had been Dave and Jan Allmendinger’s home away from home for nearly 25 years. To accommodate their growing brood of grandkids, as well as friends, it became apparent that they needed more space than their Eden Isle condo could provide. “Dave had taken up fly fishing on the Little Red River,” Jan says, “and he would go every weekend in all kinds of weather.” Eventually Dave convinced Jan to visit the river with him. “When I got on that river and saw Sugar Loaf Mountain, I was hooked,” she says. “It was one of the most beautiful, peaceful spots I have ever seen, just breathtaking.”
Dave and Jan searched diligently for the perfect home with the perfect view, eventually purchasing two undeveloped lots in a gated community. “Build was a scary word to me,” Jan admits, but thankfully the entire family pitched in. “The home was built with one constant thought process,” Dave says. “We wanted a place where our family and friends could relax, be themselves, nurture relationships and begin to fall in love with the outdoors.”
Jan’s and Dave’s daughter, Krista Lewis, also played a major role in the home’s design. After graduating with an interior design degree at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Krista relocated to Louisiana with her husband Dan. “We had made many trips to visit her,” Jan says, “and we had come to love the style of the area’s homes. There were lots of porches, tall ceilings and open spaces, yet so many nooks and crannies. It was a casual graciousness to me.”
The Allmendingers enlisted the help of an architect in Baton Rouge to put their plan for a primitive-style Acadian cottage down on paper, and Gary Xiques of Birdsong Builders took on the construction. Rather fortuitously, during this time, Krista and her family moved to Little Rock, and she was enlisted to put her expertise to work. “From planning the kitchen window view of Sugar Loaf Mountain to orienting the house on the property, Krista and Jan have been the leaders,” Dave says. “I was told I could be in charge of the dock and the deck. That was it. I did get my outdoor kitchen and fire pit, and naturally the dock was completed long before the house.”
Details give the home an Acadian feeling, from plank pine and brick floors to French doors with transoms, beamed ceilings and thick mouldings. Additonally, Krista and her parents took plenty of time selecting the perfect plumbing fixtures, floor materials and fabrics for each room. “My favorite is a copper sink that we found in Baton Rouge now used in the powder room,” says Krista. The selection of iron lighting fixtures also reflects the rustic French Country-style that runs throughout.
Krista personalized the home with her parents’ accessories and artwork, even framing some of her dad’s childhood puzzles and botanical prints to place on the walls of the upstairs media room. Making the indoors and outdoors work together was also key. “The backyard and the views were the main priority,” Krista says. The raised front porches were constructed on a foundation of brick piers with large rough-hewn beams overhead holding up a hipped roof. Large gallery porches in the front and back of the house provide the perfect place for taking in the views of Sugar Loaf Mountain and the river. “The entire back of the house is basically a wall of windows,” Krista says. “When you’re sitting in the living room, it almost feels like a tree house thanks to the bird’s eye view.” The completed home can sleep 18, assuring space for friends and family with special features, such as the window seat in the first floor family room, which can be used as seating for a dining table that folds out. “We want people to come and enjoy this wonderful place with us,” says Jan.
Order is a key concept in the Little Rock home that interior designer Tobi Fairley shares with her husband, Carter, and daughter, Ellison, who turns three this June. In fact, keeping her busy family centered and organized was a major influence on the home’s entire design, from its cohesive palette of neutral walls, colorful furnishings and green accents, to its structural background of open spaces and abundant storage. “My main goals in this home were for it to be relaxed and organized, and the two really go hand in hand,” Tobi says. “It’s hard to be relaxed amidst clutter.”
The owner of T. Lamarr Interiors and Fine Art, Tobi is an important force in the Arkansas design community, bridging the gap between creative talent and business savvy. As a child she was influenced by her mother’s innate sense of style and her aunt’s and cousin’s careers as designers in Fort Worth, but had completed a degree in accounting before changing paths and enrolling in the nationally accredited interior design program at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. She continues to push herself professionally, obtaining her masters in business administration, certification by the National Council of Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), and registration by the Arkansas State Board of Registered Interior Designers, to which Governor Mike Beebe has recently appointed her.
Creativity, however, is the lifeblood of Tobi’s career. “Interior design school does not teach you decorating and style,” she says. “That’s either a natural ability or something you learn outside the degree program.” She focuses her business on high-end design projects, because it’s where her passion lies. “I would rather be great at one thing than good at several,” she says.
This passion makes itself more than evident inside Tobi’s own home, a traditional 1970s home in the Pleasant Valley area. “Carter loves looking for real estate, and I knew the moment I saw this house that it had amazing potential,” she says. “The traffic flow and layout were great, and it had large open rooms on the main level that were perfect for entertaining.” After renovating the kitchen and master bathroom, she gave the home a neutral background, introducing color with the furnishings. “The entire color scheme is based on a green color story with a lot of black and white accents that I had used in our previous home,” she says. Shades of green are incorporated into nearly every space, giving the home a cohesive and relaxing flow. Original art from the artists Tobi represents at her gallery is displayed throughout, as well as pieces she and Carter have collected while traveling.
While the home exudes a refined glamour, it has definitely been designed as a welcoming space for a family with a small child. Light, natural fabrics keep things casual, along with functional touches like the vinyl on the breakfast area banquette. For Tobi, designing her own home is a treat without equal. “I get to put all the things I love together in one space,” she says, and she wants her family to be able to enjoy the home as much as she does. “We definitely don’t take it too seriously,” she says. “I teach Ellison to respect and take care of our nice things, but just last night she built a fort out of all the sofa and chair cushions in the family room.”
Organization is another component of the family’s harmony, which Tobi achieved by maximizing the home’s available storage with bins, boxes, hampers and other organizational systems, as well as carefully editing the tabletop accessories and even covering books on open shelving in white paper to allow visual “breathing room.” In the office off the kitchen, she created the home’s command center with spots for mail and business materials, as well as crafts and other projects she’s working on. “I am so much happier as a busy mom and business owner when I can come home to a clean and beautiful space,” she says.
Although landscaping projects and the design of Ellison’s playroom are on the horizon, Tobi is not the kind of person that likes to change things once she gets them right. “It’s wonderful to have it completed so I can enjoy it and move on to spending time with family and friends here,” she says. “I feel very, very blessed to be able to wake up each morning to such a relaxing and beautiful space.”
Interior designer and owner of Lumber One in Stuttgart with her husband John, Pam Morton was thrilled when past clients and friends came to her to redesign their newly purchased Little Rock home. “I had worked with this couple before, and I understood their lifestyle and style preferences,” Pam says. “The home had great bones and a very sound structure. We just needed to update the interior and rework aspects of the floor plan.”
Pam began the project by taking inventory of the overall home. “The original builder was very forward thinking with walk-in closets, pantry and laundry spaces and vaulted ceilings in the living room,” she says. “I definitely wanted to maintain these features, while increasing the openness and bringing in more natural light.” The ranch-style home had carpeting throughout and a sprinkling of rustic details. “Our goal was a very clean-lined home with traditional comfort, and we replaced all the carpet with travertine. We added can lights everywhere, and in the living room we painted the beams to match the ceiling and soften the space. We also rebuilt the rustic-style mantel with more ornate moulding to match the new style of the home.”
Traffic flow in the home was disjointed because of several smaller rooms with walls and hallways separating the kitchen, dining room and living room. “We removed several walls and enlarged the remaining doorways to create an open floor plan from the enlarged kitchen to the dining room and the living room,” says Pam. “The couple often entertains her large family and friends. Because of this, we focused on several seating areas and comfortable furnishings.” Removing the wall in the kitchen allowed space for large island fitted with several bar stools, and Lumber One’s certified kitchen and bath designer Charlotte Lefler redesigned the space with beautiful cabinetry and granite countertops. “The kitchen is now large enough to really use,” Pam says. “And the banquette eating area and bar seating allows room for a crowd.”
The home already had several floor-to-ceiling windows, and Pam was able to increase the range of the natural light by removing walls throughout the public spaces. Now, the light from the kitchen windows easily travels through the dining room and the living room, which also boasts a wall of windows. “The transformation is really striking,” she says. “The couple was a little hesitant that this was the right house for them at first due to the galley kitchen and cramped spaces, but after the extra walls came down, and we replaced the flooring and redesigned the interior, it became a very welcoming and usable home.”