Date: December 29, 2020 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Lauren Cerrato |
In Little Rock, Jill Lawrence helps a pair of empty nesters transform their home to enjoy for years to come
With a central Little Rock location, spacious backyard, and sunroom near the kitchen where the kids could play within sight, this home was a perfect choice when the owners and their toddler-age sons moved in almost 20 years ago. However, with both boys out of the house, the couple realized their needs had changed. “We looked around but really didn’t find anything in a location we loved as much as this one,” one of the owners says. “We thought, Why not take the money we would have put into a new house and use it for a renovation?” Having worked with their neighbor and local interior designer Jill Lawrence on small projects previously, they called on her to create a roadmap for a reinvented version of the beloved home while bringing in style updates along the way.
For starters, several of the spaces were given a new function. On the main level, the dining room was turned into a billiards room, a galley-style living area and sunroom were combined to create a comfortable den, and a space adjacent to the kitchen that was previously used as a keeping room became the new dining space. Downstairs, a reconfiguration of square footage allowed for a larger master bath as well as a completely new bathroom, giving each of the couple’s sons privacy when visiting.
“We played musical chairs with rooms to make it work for them,” Jill says of the transformation. Architect Ellen Yeary engineered these changes and was even able to relocate the den’s fireplace and raise the ceilings to make the area more spacious as well as functional. “This room, in particular, was so closed off before,” Jill says. “Now it feels massive to them. Everything became more gracious during the renovation.”
Playing off their love of blue, the hue was incorporated throughout the main level in wallpaper, paint, furnishings, and a number of blue-and-white collectibles that dot the shelves and tables. The designer also played up the comfort factor, a key directive from the couple, opting for roomy sofas, lounge chairs, and dog-friendly fabrics. When it came to art, Jill didn’t have to look far. “My husband has taken photos of our travels through the years, all in black and white,” one of the owners says. Jill had these framed and placed throughout the home to call these trips to mind. “We enjoy thinking of the memories every day when we walk past them,” the owner says.
Previously, the foyer lacked drama, which Jill and the homeowners set out to remedy. “Every foyer needs something that tells you this is going to be a fun place,” Jill says. To bring this element, the owners splurged on a Schumacher wallcovering one of them says reminds her of a 1960s David Hicks print. “Every project needs one splurge, and this one was totally worth it,” Jill says. Existing brick floors bring character while a contemporary light fixture keeps the look current—much like the mix of design elements throughout the home.
In the new, more spacious living room Jill covered the walls and trim with Benjamin Moore’s “Revere Pewter” for a look that appears seamless to the eye and makes the space feel even larger. Dog-friendly furnishings, including an indoor/outdoor rug, make for easy upkeep, while banded drapes, rich woods, and blue and white accessories add character. “They love to watch scary movies, so we did blackout curtains they can pull closed in the middle of the day and settle in with popcorn,” Jill says.
A breakfast area previously used as a keeping room became the family’s dining space. Here, Jill followed through with the navy palette not only for continuity but also to complement a recent kitchen renovation featuring rich espresso cabinetry. While the homeowners were reluctant to turn the lounge space into a dining area, they knew they needed a table and chairs for gatherings, and Jill promised to deliver on comfort. “These chairs are so cozy; they make for a good conversation spot where you want to linger,” the designer says of the washable slipcovered seating.
The under-utilized formal dining room is now a destination the family looks forward to frequenting, a billiards room. Here, contemporary and traditional are paired throughout the design. For example, plaid curtains are a nod to an old-school billiards hall, while Jill refers to the light fixture as an “of the moment” piece that can be easily updated as trends change. Antique Delft tiles, which are original to the home, are complemented by a modern application of blue on the walls, trim, and ceiling, while the clean lines of the gold, contemporary bar shelves (see page 51) stand in opposition to the traditional legs of the pool table.
The palette for the master bedroom was taken from a painting of wild turkeys that hung in one of the owner’s childhood homes. After her parents gifted the couple the beloved painting, they wanted to use it in a special way; it now hangs in the hallway near the master bedroom entry alluding to the sage green, cream, and brown found throughout the cozy space. A grasscloth wallpaper provides texture on an accent wall, while the velvet drapes and bed bring a luxurious feel.
Each of the couple’s grown sons’ rooms received a refresh. In this space, new paint and bedding made the room ready for weekend and holiday visits.
“This style is fresh and classic. In 20 years it will look as good as the day we installed it.”
—Jill Lawrence, designer
Architect Ellen Yeary, Yeary Lindsey Architects Interior design Jill Lawrence, J. Lawrence Design Accessories Cobblestone & Vine, Phoenix Interiors, and Tipton & Hurst Art Cobblestone & Vine Bedding Angela Moore, Angel Threads, and Dillard’s Lighting, furniture, and rugs J. Lawrence Design Pillows (custom) Angela Moore, Angel Threads Wallpaper Designer Effects Window treatments Nancy Osborn
Ed. note: The maker of the wallpaper in the entry has been corrected for the online version of this story.