Interior designer Kathryn LeMaster helps a Little Rock homeowner revive a house her family has called home for five generations
To live in a home that has housed five generations of your family would have been none too remarkable a century ago, but in 2015, it’s a true rarity. Little Rock-native Lynn Baker found herself in this fortunate position after inheriting her childhood home from her parents. “The house was built in 1930, and my dad’s family moved here in 1939, when he was 10,” Baker says. She goes on to explain that her father’s own grandparents also lived in the home with them during that time, and the house was then purchased by her parents after they were married. Additionally, she and her brother, along with his daughter (Baker’s niece), had both lived in the home at one time or another before it became solely hers.
Through all of those years and the numerous family-member residents, the house had only been renovated once—when her parents made an addition to it in the 1990s. “It was time for an update,” says Baker, who searched the Internet to find interior designer Kathryn LeMaster, whom she then hired. “I knew I wanted someone who was ASID (American Society of Interior Designers)-certified because my grandmother was a designer and was a member. Kathryn got right back to me and as they say, ‘the rest is history,’” Baker recounts. Considering both the home’s rich field of memories and the current owner’s needs, LeMaster crafted a thoughtful design that not only honors the past, but will also last for generations to come.
Collected and Curated
“We tried to do a mix of old and new,” LeMaster says of the approach she took to the design. “I didn’t sell everything and start over,” Baker adds. For instance, the paneling in the den is original to the home’s 1990s addition and stands in juxtaposition to newly acquired contemporary artwork and a clear, acrylic fan for an eclectic vibe. “The painting in the den was a found piece done by artist V. Noe,” LeMaster notes. “It was such a perfect fit that it looks like we had it commissioned.”
A number of the furnishings in the home were either family pieces that had been handed down through the years or ones that Baker brought from her previous residence. LeMaster worked with these existing elements while also infusing new life into the space with eye-catching fabrics and accessories. Perhaps this is most strikingly evident in the master bedroom, where an heirloom painting became the jumping off point for the room’s color scheme. Its various shades of yellow and gray inspired LeMaster to find similarly hued fabrics for the draperies and custom bedding.
A combination of vintage and current selections weren’t the only design elements that pose a contrast. “We also layered in different items budget-wise,” LeMaster says. For example, Baker opted for a custom CR Laine sectional in the den, while the room’s ottomans were an inexpensive online find that were then reupholstered. These pieces, paired with antique side tables Baker already owned, create a mix of high and low.
Aside from the furnishings, it was also important to Baker to make functional changes that will prove to be a smart investment over time. “I want to be here for 20 years if I can,” she notes. With this in mind, LeMaster completely reworked the flow of the master bath to better serve Baker’s needs. “Originally, this was a Jack-and-Jill bath, so we closed off the second opening and created a private water closet. We also added built-in linen storage in that new space.” With these functional improvements, there also came some luxurious upgrades. “I splurged on heated floors. There are some places you want to spend your money, but others you can save, and I said let’s find a place to save it somewhere else,” Baker laughs. Other deluxe features include a bench in the shower, a television concealed in the side of the bath’s cabinetry tower, and a small vanity area for applying makeup.
Since her family has enjoyed such a rich history in the home, it was important to Baker to celebrate this, while still making the rooms her own. In the kitchen, new open shelving crafted from cypress boards offers a place to display sentimental figurines. Similarly, cabinetry panels that were set aside in the kitchen renovation were repurposed to create a small china cabinet for treasured pieces in Baker’s new home office (which was formerly the laundry room).
The palette in one of the home’s guest rooms is also indicative of Baker’s style. “She told me at the very beginning of the project that she definitely wanted a purple room. So that was the starting point,” LeMaster says of the lilac-hued walls and fabrics in the home’s front guest bedroom.
Carrying the refresh throughout the spaces, LeMaster also worked her magic on a charming porch that Baker used previously for storage. “She is such a green thumb, so she wanted a space that could be her workroom,” LeMaster says. “She had a vision of a garden oasis.” Working with contractor Tim Hankins, who came up with the idea of using a metal washtub for a creative and industrial take on a sink, the attached porch was transformed into a potting room. “She worked around my quirky requests,” Baker says, of her relationship with LeMaster—one which, perhaps, has resulted in a home with enough history and charm to last for another century.
Architect Tim Hankins Construction, LLC, Little Rock, (501) 940-1200
Interior design Kathryn J. LeMaster, Allied ASID, Kathryn J. LeMaster Art & Design, LLC, North Little Rock, (501) 626-0267, kathrynjlemaster.com
Landscape design Andrew Kenley and Kyle Melton, Natural State Horticare, Sherwood, (501) 350-7583, naturalstatehorticare.com
Accessories Cantrell Furniture Design Center, Little Rock, (501) 225-0002, cantrellfurniture.com; Kathryn J. LeMaster Art & Design, LLC, North Little Rock, (501) 626-0267, kathrynjlemaster.com; Mid-Towne Antique Mall, Little Rock, (501) 223-3600, midtownantiquemall.com
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800, North Little Rock, (501) 758-1988, Springdale, (479) 750-2200, metroappliancesandmore.com
Art Rita Henry, Gallery 26, Little Rock, (501) 664-8996; V. Noe (Vivian Noe Griffith) Conway, (501) 514-5166
Bedding—custom and window coverings Kathryn J. LeMaster Art & Design, LLC, North Little Rock, (501) 626-0267, kathrynjlemaster.com; Sew Much by Monica Smith, Little Rock, (501) 952-3768
Cabinets, millwork, and painting Tim Hankins Construction, LLC, Little Rock, (501) 940-1200
Fixtures Southern Pipe & Supply, locations statewide, southernpipe.com
Flooring Hardwood Floors by Kyle Scruggs, Little Rock, (501) 690-6848
Framing M2 Gallery & Framing, Little Rock, (501) 225-6271, m2lr.com
Furniture, lighting, mirrors, and wallpaper Kathryn J. LeMaster Art & Design, LLC, North Little Rock, (501) 626-0267, kathrynjlemaster.com
Glass West Little Rock Glass, Little Rock, (501) 223-3034, westlittlerockglass.net
Rugs Cantrell Furniture Design Center, Little Rock, (501) 225-0002, cantrellfurniture.com; Cobblestone & Vine, Little Rock, (501) 664-4249, West Little Rock, (501) 219-3676, cobblestoneandvine.com; Cynthia East Fabrics, Little Rock, (501) 663-0460; cynthiaeastfabrics.com; Kathryn J. LeMaster Art & Design, LLC, North Little Rock, (501) 626-0267, kathrynjlemaster.com
Tile Inside Effects, North Little Rock, (501) 954-8866, inside-effects.com
Upholstery Howard’s Upholstery, Little Rock, (501) 225-0476
Windows—storm Griffis Gentry Glass, Bauxite, (501) 952-9153