Native Arkansans, Carol and Bill Eaton had been living in Vicksburg, Mississippi, for the last 12 years for Bill’s job. Approaching retirement, Bill and Carol were open to the idea of moving back to Arkansas, and when a chance trip brought Carol through Fayetteville, she stumbled upon their new home. “I drove by this house with one of our daughters while passing through town,” Carol says. “It was actually the Fourth of July, but we managed to get the real estate agent to show it to us that day. It was perfect! I called Bill from the driveway, and we bought it.”
Mark Zweig had recently remodeled the 3,500-square-foot home and named it Sweet Lafayette. “I’ve been remodeling homes since 1985 and working in the Fayetteville area since 2004,” he says. “I focus on pre-World War II homes located near the center of town and the university. I actually like to work on homes that are in very poor condition because it justifies gutting them to the studs and fixing every aspect that has either been done badly in the past or has simply deteriorated.” Mark always uses natural elements, including Western red cedar siding shingles, natural stone, antique brick, wooden-frame windows and soffits, and oil-based paints. “I don’t like vinyl, aluminum or faux products,” he says. “I find they make a house look like a caricature of something real.”
The Eatons’ Craftsman-style cottage also holds many significant historical aspects. An earlier renovation to the home utilized materials from the Arkansas House, which was the Arkansas pavilion at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. It was disassembled for sale to the public, and the materials were marked with sequential lot numbers, which are still visible on the limestone pillars and column bases in the home’s landscaping. The fireplace and all the window and door trim medallions and a large portion of the baseboards and crown moulding are also from the Arkansas House. The front staircase, glass on the front door and most of the raised panel and the oak flooring in the kitchen were all salvaged from the demolition of the Padock Mansion, which was located near Fayetteville’s downtown square.
Honoring these historic materials and the original bones, Mark set about to re-create this one-of-a-kind home. “We stripped all the asbestos shingles and redid the exterior with cedar shingles in several different patterns and stain colors,” he says. “We opened up the second floor and changed it from a three-bedroom one-bath space to a two-bedroom two-bath level, and enlarged the doorways downstairs and brought back the original woodwork style throughout. We rebuilt the front and rear porches and maximized the kitchen with side-by-side stoves for a total of ten burners and a custom-made 60-inch commercial range hood.” Mark and his team also expanded the laundry room to what he calls a laundromat, featuring two front-load washers and dryers and dark brown marble floors. “We had a blast with this house,” he says. “We were able to build and incorporate all of our ideas.”
Though he’s now one of Little Rock’s top builders, Richard Harp began his career by building a 1,500-square-foot home in Fayetteville and organizing his receipts in a shoebox. “When my mom heard that, she offered to start entering invoices into Quickbooks!” he says. Despite his low-tech beginnings, the experience gave him a strong background in every aspect of home building, from the ground up, and after relocating to Little Rock, he launched his own business, Richard Harp Homes. Today, his work ranges from remodels to custom-designed homes, and he prides himself in being an expert in using energy-efficient building technologies, computer-based project management and home automation.
When Richard and his wife Brandy began thinking about building a new home for their family, including daughter Isabella and son Nicholas, the Bella Rosa Estates neighborhood was a natural choice, because Richard and his business partners had just begun developing it. “We enjoy the lot size and relative seclusion, yet we really have quick access to the major Little Rock corridors,” Brandy says. In addition, Richard, who is a certified graduate builder and a certified green professional with the National Association of Homebuilders, wanted to make the home as energy-efficient as possible, eventually earning designation as an Energy Star Partner.
Around the same time, interior designer Tobi Fairley of Tobi Fairley Interior Design began exploring the possibilities of a professional partnership with Richard. “I knew Brandy and Richard from Junior League events, and I invited him into my office to see our design process,” Tobi says. Immediately impressed, Richard asked her to meet with Brandy to discuss the design of their personal home. “The timing was perfect to form a partnership,” says Richard. The trio began an incredibly rewarding collaboration on the space. “I kept the structural and utilitarian interests in mind, and Brandy and Tobi ensured the spaces were matched with the correct fabrics, colors and furniture. So, as a team we built the house together,” he says.
Throughout the home, French-inspired design was a major influence. “The home was certainly inspired by French country design but executed in a simple way,” Tobi says. “The interiors are not overly accessorized, which gives it a very updated and fresh feel and allows the architectural elements to stand out.” A European color palette of blues, yellows and creams is a unifying element, from the floral and toile fabrics inside to the stone and stucco exterior and gray-blue roof. The hand-scraped hardwood floors, Rumsford-style fireplace with cast-stone surround and wrought-iron, travertine and granite finishes were all carefully chosen to create an overall atmosphere of relaxed elegance. Large windows allow beautiful views and copious natural sunlight. “We used traversing drapery on all the windows so that they could maintain the views and have total control over the amount of light in the space throughout the day and into the evenings,” says Tobi.
While creating a cohesive look for the home was essential to the Harps, it was also necessary that the home meet their needs as a family and have an open floor plan for entertaining. The master bedroom and children’s bedrooms are on the first floor, making it easy for Richard to check in on the kids from his home office, while the evenings find the family congregating in the open hearth room and kitchen. The master bedroom, however, was designed as a private retreat for Brandy and Richard, including a sitting area, stunning master bath and a second laundry facility. “The monochromatic color palette in the master suite is so serene and relaxing,” Tobi says. In fact, the finishes throughout the home are perfect for a busy family, thanks to their slightly rough-hewn nature. “Even though the influence is somewhat formal, the finishes are distressed and casual which cover a multitude of ‘sins’ when it comes to wear and tear from the kids,” she continues.
For Tobi and the Harps, the finished collaboration is far more rewarding than anything they could have created singly. Whether for family time, business or entertaining, the home is an ideal environment and a testament to all of their talents. “Richard made my job easier because his great knowledge of product and the building process helped translate my design ideas into structural elements,” says Tobi.
A Natural Compilation
Architect Lynn Fitzpatrick, clinical associate professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and her husband Joseph O’Connell drew on years of travel and architectural influences when designing their northwest Arkansas house. “I was very interested in traditional Adirondack camps, which were inspired by Japanese architecture and craft,” Lynn says. “I also looked to the Shakers for their restraint and emphasis on functional invention, and I was drawn to Native American longhouses for their adaptation to climate and site conditions.” Their nearly eight acres of wooded property offered mature trees, spectacular views and lots of privacy, and each of these aspects was respected and taken into account in their design.
The exterior of the home offers a juxtaposition of materials from wall made of stacked local fieldstone and Douglas fir piers to Hardiplank, cedar and Miratech panelized siding. The connection between the inside and the outside was important to Lynn, and there are many outdoor living spaces from which to enjoy nature. “I really enjoy all of the outdoor areas,” Lynn says. “The master bedrooms open onto a screened-in sleeping porch, and there’s a covered porch off the guest bedroom. This is very typical of Adirondack camps and lodges.” The timber construction is also consistent on the interior and exterior. “This creates a clear order and rhythm that extends the entire length of the house, and it’s continued in the proportions and structure of the decks, porches and courtyard,” she says.
Lynn chose the home’s color palette based on Shaker natural dyes. “I used warmer tones on the south side of the interior where the sunlight is direct and cooler tones on the north side where there’s mostly indirect light,” she says. “I wanted to use warm, natural materials in a modern way with clean lines and open interconnected spaces.” Throughout the home, bookshelves, screens, cabinetry and windows act as walls, allowing natural light to flow freely, and furthering the open floor plan.
The home centers on the large stacked-stone fireplace, which offers an interior and exterior hearth. “The glass walls and doors of the living and dining areas open onto a Brazilian walnut deck and stone terrace with courtyard,” Lynn says. “The inside is really an extension of the outside and vice versa.” Joseph and Lynn find they spend a lot of their time cooking in the kitchen, snuggling with their two Harlequin great danes and three kittens in front of the fireplace and admiring the views from their many decks. “This is the first house that Joe and I have ever owned,” Lynn says. “While moving around and pursuing graduate degrees and careers has been fun and fruitful, nothing feels as good as arriving home.”
Living Outside the Box
Bill and Jane Hardin were frequent visitors to Mountain Harbor on Lake Ouachita for years before they decided to purchase a vacation home of their own. “We would always come up a lot and visit friends,” Bill says. “We’d stay at the lodge or in one of the condominiums. The kids pretty much grew up on this lake.” Due to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers guidelines, all homes in the area must be mobile, and while staying with friends, Bill approached their neighbor about selling his trailer and land space to him. “He didn’t have any intention of selling initially, but after speaking with him for a while, he agreed,” Bill says. “Then Jane and I set about re-creating the idea of a trailer.”
Instead of having a new trailer custom built, the Hardins decided to remodel the existing one. “It might have been more economical to have someone build us a completely new one,” Jane says. “But seeing the transformation of this one is incredible.” They met with John Allison of Allison Architects in Little Rock, and John ended the conversation by sketching his idea of the rehabbed trailer. “We actually took the napkin sketch to our builder,” Bill says. “He laughed at us, but the plan was perfect.”
Everything aspect of the initial trailer was gutted and reworked, including the flooring, windows and walls. “We replaced the original doors and windows with wooden ones and added French doors leading to the screened-in porch, which was also added along three sides of the home,” Bill says. “We re-covered the interior walls with bead board for a retro, cottage look that Jane wanted.” New black-and-white checkered flooring continued the cottage feel, while eclectic furnishings and even appliances, many discovered by Jane on various trips, completed the comfortable cottage atmosphere. “Throughout the process, people continued to stop by to tell us we couldn’t build a house on the property,” Bill says. “We had to keep telling them that the original trailer’s axles and struts were all in place as mandated. The interior and exterior were just very well done.”
Along with the screened-in porches running along the exterior of the home, the interior boasts a living area, which flows into a small dining space and kitchen. Light-hearted colors, Fiestaware pottery and edited collections of antique and new furnishings create a welcoming space. The guest room boasts two sets of bunk beds, while Bill and Jane’s bedroom houses its own small bathroom. “This has become a great getaway for us,” Bill says. “Jane and I enjoy coming up alone, but it’s also unusual for us to have two dozen kids camped out here. We have several tables for board and card games, and since we’re close to the water’s edge, it’s easy to jump in the boat for an afternoon on the lake.”
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.
Let the Sunshine In
The Family Business
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.