The duo from Harper Howey Interiors unites to give one of their own residences a fresh and sophisticated makeover
What do a designer and an accountant have in common? One might say “not much,” but Kimberly Harper and Cynthia Tune have mastered the art of combining their separate talents into a successful full-service design business, known as Harper Howey Interiors. When mutual divorces brought the long-time friends closer than ever, they both went on the hunt for a fresh start. “I was doing tax returns, but it wasn’t fulfilling,” Tune recalls. “We started talking about doing a store together.” One afternoon, Harper happened past a century-old former schoolhouse in Springdale and immediately saw its potential. “The only thing we had to do was add two electrical outlets, and—from a business standpoint—I knew that if we could spend our initial investment on inventory instead of improvements, we could make it work,” Tune says. Harper rebranded her design business to reflect the new partnership, and the pair have been creating beautiful work across the state since—including their most recent project, Tune’s personal residence.
Change of Residency
Not long after their business launched in 2012, Tune started looking to downsize her living space. She found a traditional red-brick home on a private, wooded lot in Fayetteville and bought it, sight unseen. Previous owners had been friends of hers, but it had been years since she was inside the home. After living there for a few months and figuring out what worked for her and what needed to change, she moved out and began a four-month renovation—helmed by Harper—to brighten the home and implement her desired functional preferences.
Making it Work for Her
Outside, ill-fitting shutters were removed and the brick was painted a creamy white. Inside, new hardwood flooring and tile replaced tired carpet. The public spaces were painted a soft neutral to bring light into the formerly dark rooms. As in many renovations, the kitchen and master bath got most of the attention, with all new cabinetry, lighting, and fixtures.
To improve the home’s flow, Tune had the wall between the kitchen and living room taken down, bringing in much-needed natural light. The addition of new cabinetry with simple recessed-panel doors keeps the space feeling classic, while extending the countertop over the peninsula created a breakfast bar to maximize seating, which is especially beneficial when her college-aged children bring home friends. The cabinetry on one wall is interspersed with open shelving to display dishes and glassware.
In the master bath, a large garden tub was removed to make room for a spacious shower stall. Additionally, a double vanity was exchanged for a single sink with more counter and cabinet space. Tune borrowed two feet of space from the garage to expand the closet. “The room just functions better for me now, and it feels like I’m in a luxurious hotel every day,” she says.
While their trained professions may make Harper and Tune seem like an unlikely pair, magic happens when their strengths are combined. “I like order and symmetry—I’m a CPA after all—everything has to balance,” Tune says. Meanwhile, Harper’s use of bold color and grand gestures pushes the boundaries of design. “We go about things totally different,” Tune says of their working relationship. “During the renovation, for example, Kimberly was thinking ahead to how we would lay out the furniture, but I was more focused on getting the canvas just right, knowing we could add the layers in later,” Tune explains.
Evolution of a Home
“I definitely advise doing major renovations before moving in whenever possible – no one likes to live in that kind of mess,” Harper states. “But when furnishing and adding details it’s nice to take your time and find the right pieces.” In the first pass after the initial renovation, all of the walls, cabinets, and ceilings were given the same neutral paint color. Over time, wallpaper was added to the dining room and backs of the shelves in the living room, and the master bedroom was painted a cheerful, but serene, periwinkle. To tie in the en suite, Harper had the ceiling painted the same shade.
And there’s more to come, promises the pair. Eventually, the walls of the bath will be covered in a marbled paper. Next on the project list is a narrow sunroom that overlooks the backyard. Is that the last project? “Probably not!” Tune says with a laugh. “Is a house ever really finished?”
Interior design Kimberly Harper, Harper Howey Interiors, Springdale, (479) 750-7300, harperhoweyinteriors.com
Accessories, art, bedding, fabrics, furniture, lighting, mirrors, rugs, tile—backsplash, wallpaper, and window coverings Harper Howey Interiors, Springdale, (479) 750-7300, harperhoweyinteriors.com
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800, North Little Rock, (501) 758-1988, Springdale, (479) 750-2200, metroappliancesandmore.com
Carpet, flooring, and tile Freeman Floor, Fayetteville, (479) 582-3311, freemanfloorco.com
Fixtures Plumb Perfect, Springdale, (479) 750-2333, springdalewinnelson.com
Hardware Encore Flooring & Building Products, Springdale, (479) 361-8900, encoregroupusa.com
Paint Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide, sherwin-williams.com