Polished to Perfection

Story: Interview by Tiffany Burgess  |   Styling: Diane Carroll  |  

At Home in Arkansas: The cool color palette in the kitchen and bath is so clean and inviting. Where did you find the inspiration?


Tobi Fairley: One of our first steps with any homeowner is to discover what they like and don’t like. When we first sat down with this couple, we immediately had a sense of their style. The wife had tons of magazine clippings and pictures of kitchens and baths she found attractive. Time after time, the pictures she showed us were of beach-inspired rooms with neutral tones and pale green or aqua accents, so we took our cues from there.



AHIA: Is this a big change from the previous palette?


TF: A huge change. Their home was very traditional and both the kitchen and bath were dark spaces with maple cabinetry and dated décor from the late 80s or early 90s, so changing the palette really altered the tone of the home.



AHIA: Did the homeowners have a wish list for their kitchen renovation?


TF: Drawing from the light color, they wanted the spaces to look and feel very airy. Since the room was so dark, they wanted more natural light and an open space. They had a side porch off the kitchen and we incorporated it into the room to physically gain more space. We added a large window and French doors, which helped to bring in more sunlight and gave them a nice view of the golf course in their neighborhood.


AHIA: What about storage space?


TF: One of the other things they both wanted and needed was storage. With two kids and a dog, there are a lot of accessories. The homeowners wanted to be able to keep the countertops clear of clutter and have a place for mail, keys and the kids’ school items when guests rang the doorbell. We began with plenty of built-in cabinetry that can house small appliances and anything else that might be left on the countertops, and then added large cubbies with baskets on one end of the island to give them a place to stash items quickly. Even the banquette has a small built-in drawer for storage.



AHIA: The kitchen design also has a polished and somewhat traditional feel to it. What elements helped you achieve this?


TF: The architectural details add interest to the space and give it that traditional touch. Since we took in the side porch, we needed to keep one of the load-bearing columns in place. To make that column appear more balanced, we added a second one and covered the two with panels. The kitchen also had a preexisting ceiling beam. We created a coffered ceiling to tie this in with the rest of the space and again keep with that classic look. I also love the glazed subway tile along the backsplash and the two-tone faux-finished cabinetry. They both give an unexpected twist on traditional. And, of course, the apothecary-style pendants over the island are timeless fixtures with modern appeal.



AHIA: How did you carry the same style and feeling from the kitchen to the bath?


TF: It was important to the homeowners to create a continuous flow throughout the home, so we used a palette that was very close to the kitchen colors. In this room, we also took in a side porch to gain more space. We used the former master bath to create a closet for the couple, and then turned the former porch area into their new bath. This allowed us to bring in plenty of natural light by adding windows, just as we did in the kitchen.



AHIA: So the open, airy feel and the calm palette set the tone for the room. What other features worked to bring the look together?


TF: The freestanding tub and its telephone-style fixture really take center stage in this room. Not only are they a luxury for the homeowner, they also add to the classic look. We used a clean, white tile and sea glass accent tile in the shower to brighten up the space. I also repeated a round motif, using it in the drum shades on the light fixtures, the circular pattern on the fabric for the roman shades, in the vanity lighting and even on the vanity’s round hardware. Repeating one of two motifs throughout a space is a great way to tie a room together.




Design Resources


Interior design Tobi Fairley Interior Design, Little Rock


Appliances Metro Appliances & More, locations statewide


Cabinetry Moody Cabinets, Benton


Countertop The Countertop Store, North Little Rock


Faux finish on cabinetry Janet Canalichio, Little Rock


Mirrors Pottery Barn, locations statewide


Paint Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide


Plumbing fixtures, bathtub Southern Pipe & Supply Company, locations statewide


Tile Elder Distributing, North Little Rock


Upholstery Chism Upholstery & Furniture, Little Rock

Window treatments Mountjoy’s Custom Draperies, Mabelvale


Organically Modern: Designer Meridith Hamilton uses natural light, sleek surfaces and ultra-efficient amenities to update an aging kitchen and bath


Clean and Serene: Designer Garry Mertins turns an out-of-date kitchen into a tranquil space for effortlessly relaxing, cooking and entertaining

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