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.”
When Counts and Asa Morton began preparing to move in to their west Little Rock home after their marriage, they faced the inevitable design challenge of merging two established households with very different styles. They purchased a nearly completed spec home with copious windows, light limestone floors and an open, high-ceilinged layout, which seemed the perfect spot to embark on their life together. However, it was worlds away from both her quaint traditional home in St. Charles Place and his 1970s ranch-style abode in Pleasant Valley.
Now displayed in the family room, this kilim-style rug was one of the inspirations for the home’s coral and turquoise color scheme.…
“Fertilize your flower beds with an all-purpose fertilizer after the danger of frost has passed, which is usually around April 15,” says Chris Olsen of Botanica Gardens in Little Rock.
Jennifer Gibson of the Good Earth Garden Center in Little Rock says March is the time to prepare the soil in your landscape beds with soil amendments such as lime and organic material.
Plant your summer annuals and perennials. “I always try to purchase mine in early April if the weather is warm to get first pick,” says Olsen. This is also a great time to plant tropicals, such as palms, hibiscus and ferns.
Gibson says to prune forsythia, azaleas and other spring blooming plants when they finish blooming.
“After your spring bloomers have bloomed, spray them with Triple Action Plus to prevent fungus, insects and mites,” says Olsen. Repeat as necessary about every four to six weeks throughout the growing season.
“Treat your lawn with a fertilizer during the growing season. The timing for this application starts in April and should be repeated every six to eight weeks,” says Chris Harris of the Green Grass Club of Arkansas in Little Rock. “During this time we spot spray weeds that the pre-emergent process missed. The thicker the lawn, the more difficult it is for weeds to become established. Not to mention, this treatment is what makes the lawn green up!”
“This is the perfect time to sow summer annuals by seed,” Olsen says.
“By May, the soil temperature is warm enough to plant those summer bulbs,” says Gibson.
“Water with Bayer Advanced Tree & Shrub, a 12-month insect preventer,” says Gibson.
Gibson also notes that now is the time to check your sprinkler system and make necessary adjustments.
Olsen notes that this is still a great time to plant tropicals. “Tropical plants love the summer in Arkansas, and they will last all the way up to a hard freeze, which is usually the end of November,” he says.
“Watch for fungus!” warns Olsen. “Fungus loves the humidity, so prevent an infestation by spraying with an all-purpose fungicide on your turf, roses and flowers.”
Olsen suggests fertilizing turf with high nitrogen and a balanced fertilizer during the summer, while Gibson notes that now is also a good time to treat your lawn for grubs if necessary.
In July, Gibson suggests pruning hydrangeas before they begin setting next year’s blooms. “Now is the time to give annuals and perennials a haircut if needed,” she says.
“Keep those beds clean of weeds” says Olsen. “I weed my flower beds every other week and it really is relaxing.”
It’s important during hotter months like July and August to ensure your lawn and garden get plenty of hydration. “Water early in the morning before plants get stressed,” says Gibson. As the temperature heats up, “water, water and then water some more,” she says.
Olsen says that fall is the time to replant your annuals with cold-hardy plants such as pansies, violas, cabbages, kale, Swiss chard and other color foliage plants.
“Keep water features and fish ponds clean of leaves. Decaying leaves absorb the oxygen in the water, thus depriving your fish and plants,” says Olsen. “I like to add Micro Lift to ponds. This is a living bacteria that feeds on decaying matter, and it’s not harmful to plants, fish or any wildlife. This will help water stay clear.”
“Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs,” says Gibson. “And if you’re planning to rearrange your garden, now is the best time for transplanting.”
Olsen and Gibson agree on the importance of keeping leaves swept up and off your lawn during this time of year. “Not only is leaving them on the lawn unsightly, it can also cause the lawn to thin out,” says Gibson.
“Fertilize your lawn with a winterizer that is a low-nitrogen fertilizer to help with root development,” says Olsen.
“Treat your lawn with a winterization program between October and November,” says Harris. “You’ll need a pre-emergent that controls winter weeds that germinate during cooler weather. I also like using a fertilizer to help strengthen the turf and help it bounce back after a tough winter.”
“Think about purchasing a living Christmas tree this year,” says Jill Steed of River Valley Horticultural Products. “A beautiful Leyland cypress or Savannah holly would make a great addition to any garden!”
“In February, start to clear those late-fallen leaves and mulch all flower beds with your choice of bark,” says Olsen. “I prefer to bark about three-inches thick. This will make for a great weed barrier and moisture saver.”
Olsen says that February is a good time to trim back crepe myrtles if necessary. “I like a crepe myrtle like God intended it to be, and that is in a natural shape and 25-feet tall. But if you don’t have the space, then prune back as needed.”
“Treat your lawn with pre-emergent and fertilizer between February and March,” says Harris. “This treatment will help control the summer annual grasses that germinate in warmer weather, and the fertilizer will help thicken the turf grass so that weeds will have a tough time growing.”
“Fertilize those winter annuals with Blood Meal,” says Olsen. “This fertilizer is organic and works great. Water it after applying since dogs like it as well.”
“Fall and winter are great times to plant trees and woody shrubs,” says Steed. “This gives the dormant plant time to work on establishing roots before the primary need for nutrients turns toward foliage production and blooming. The better the roots are established before growing begins, the more growth you will see from your plant in the first of the year.”
“Even though it’s winter and the temperatures are cooler, don’t forget to water,” says Steed. “Give newly planted trees a good watering.”
“Visit the Arkansas Flower and Garden show in February to get fresh ideas,” says Gibson.
At more than 7,000-square feet, the 2007 Build for the Cure Idea House is a stunning Spanish-Colonial home that calls to mind the spectacular residences of old Hollywood. Nothing complements a home of such grand stature more than beautiful landscaping and amazing outdoor spaces, and that’s exactly what Clint Morris and David Chappell of Morris-Chappell Landscaping and Neptune Pools and Chris Olsen of Botanica Gardens brought to 21 Bella Rosa Court.
Upon arriving at the house, a lush front lawn designed by Morris-Chappell Landscaping features El Toro Zoysia grass, which performs well in both sun and shade, making it ideal for both the front and side yards. “The front of the house was so balanced and straight forward that we wanted to keep the landscaping symmetrical,” says David Chappell. “We chose a number of plantings that would help maintain that Spanish-Colonial, old-Hollywood look and complement the architecture of the home.” To that end, arborvitae trees were planted next to the street and in the beds, with their slim look echoing the columns across the front porch, and as they grow, they’ll only become more streamlined. Japanese maples and Yaupon holly trees were also incorporated near the house, with pansies, white and coral Encore azaleas and Indian hawthorn to add color.
The centerpiece of the backyard is the saltwater pool designed and installed by Neptune Pools, which features jets that arc water across the pool, and effect that is especially stunning at night. Chappell and Morris chose this design because not only does the shape boast an Old-World appeal that complements the home, but it also encourages gathering around and in the pool. At only five feet deep, the pool includes a bench that encircles the inside to allow friends and family to sit comfortably, and the depth is ideal for water sports like volleyball. “This is a really great ‘hanging out’ pool,” says Chappell. “With the sunning area at one end and the built-in bench, it’s the place everyone will want to be.”
Surrounding the pool, Olsen created several unique seating areas that allow the space to be enjoyed in a myriad of ways. A seating area accessible from the master suite via a pair of dramatic French doors is outfitted with a quartet of apple green chairs and matching tables, with five small pots filled with Silverado sage and English ivy making a natural boundary without obscuring the view. At the opposite end of the pool, Olsen designed a relaxing space encompassing a trio of bronze chaise lounges by Winston, which are available at Ken Rash’s of Arkansas, accented with casual pillows. Large glazed pots filled with tall spiral junipers and euonymous create a unique focal point and border between the outdoor chapel. Nearby a quartet of Jensen Jarrah lounge chairs with apple-green cushions create an unexpected conversation area centered around an extra-large water pot filled with water lettuce.