Date: November 1, 2010 | Story: Interview by Tiffany Burgess | Styling: Mandy Keener |
At Home in Arkansas:
How did you select the lot for your home? Were there any special considerations for finding the right area?
Jennifer Herron of Herron Horton Architects:
Zoning was actually one of the biggest factors. We needed an area that was zoned for urban use and allowed us to have an office and our home together.
Jeff Horton of Herron Horton Architects:
We love the historic district and being downtown, so when we found this lot in the heart of the city, we knew it was right.
AHIA: What were a few of the top priorities for the space?
Horton: Our main goal was to build a sustainable structure using low-maintenance materials that have a long lifespan. Things like metal roofing and a geothermal heating and cooling unit were tops on our list.
Herron: And because we plan to stay in the home for a number of years, we knew the low-maintenance materials would pay us back down the road.
AHIA: Not only are you married, but you are also partners in your architecture firm. How did you decide to split the work for a project that was this close to home?
Horton: Our practice is based on collaboration and this project was no different. We passed the plans back and forth to each other for a full year before we began building.
AHIA: Part of building a sustainable residence involves selecting materials that are environmentally friendly as well as local. Are there any specific products that come from Arkansas?
Herron: Yes, the metal roofing material was fabricated in North Little Rock at McElroy Metal and our red oak flooring was milled in the Ozarks.
AHIA: Your business is also housed in this space. How do you keep balance at work and in your home life with the combined areas?
Herron: That’s a good question! No, seriously, having it all together has made life less stressful. Our lives are fluid with architecture and this space makes it much easier. If I’m in the kitchen and I have an idea, I can come to the office, jot it down or sketch, and then go right back to what I was doing.
Horton: Our kids also keep us balanced. We can take a break to play or help them with homework, and then come right back to a project with a new perspective.
AHIA: You mentioned your two children, Jake, age 12, and Ava, age 9. Did they have any input in the design?
Horton: When they saw the plans, their first question was, “Where’s the soccer field?”
Herron: We didn’t fit that into our lot, but we did include lofts in each of their bedrooms to give them a retreat. Every child needs a little place of their own, and these lofts are ideal for them.
AHIA: Jeff, as an acclaimed painter, how did you carve out space in the house for creating art?
Horton: Before we built, I had a studio outside our home. My hours are sporadic, so the idea of having it all in one space was very attractive. The second floor space above our office seemed like a natural fit. I love that I can take a break, foster my creativity in the studio, and then bring that energy back to the office when I’m tackling more technical things like building codes.
Herron: In the studio, the only parameters he has are the ones he places on himself, so it’s amazing to see the creativity that flows when he begins a painting.
AHIA: Design and sustainability are at the forefront of your work. How did you use this knowledge when it came to building your own home?
Herron: For us it was a great way to explore all the components of an environmentally sound home. Jeff is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified and sustainable practices are a way of life in our business, but building a space for yourself can teach you so much.
Horton: We really tried to use all the knowledge we have and build a home that will last for years to come.
Professional Advice from Jennifer Herron and Jeff Horton
How you position a new home on a site is a critical element, and it’s well worth consulting with an architect early on to get this step right. Siting determines your access to sunlight, which ultimately influences heating and cooling needs for the life of your home, and even your overall wellbeing.
Tips from architects Jennifer Herron and Jeff Horton
1. Consulting with a LEED-certified professional can make the entire process more efficient. There are tons of products labeled “green” or “sustainable,” but it can be tough to differentiate between the ones that are truly best for you.
2. Don’t scrimp on insulation. It can save you tons in energy costs down the road, and it’s one of those things you can’t go back and easily upgrade later.
3. Think about your lighting plan. Sunlight is such a resource not only for lighting, but also for our wellbeing. Position your home to get the most out of this.
4. Plan for long-term flexibility. When the kids head to college, we have considered opening up the wall between their rooms and creating one larger space.
5. Time spent on planning isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity and the key to success. “We spent an entire year working on the plans for our house,” says Horton. “Whether we were in the office or not, we were constantly thinking about it and constantly reconfiguring. People often ask me what I would change about it now that I’ve had a year to live here, and I say ‘nothing.’ We were so precise that everything is just the way we truly wanted it to be.”
Architect Herron Horton Architects, Little Rock
Builder AMB General Contractors, North Little Rock
Interior design Eric Ford Design, Little Rock
Landscape design Ecological Design Group, Little Rock
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, North Little Rock
Brick Acme Brick & Tile, North Little Rock
Cabinetry, wood flooring installation Crowning Achievements, Cabot
Countertops Advanced Bath & Kitchen, Little Rock
Flooring-concrete Innovative Concrete Systems, Little Rock
Flooring-wood Standfill Floor Company, Bryant
Furnishings Lacuna Modern Interiors, Fayetteville; Soho Modern, Little Rock
Lighting Malmstrom White Co., Little Rock
Pillows Cynthia East Fabrics, Mertinsdyke Home, Little Rock
Plumbing fixtures Westlake Plumbing, Cabot
Roofing McElroy Metal, North Little Rock
Staircase railing, steps Architectural Iron Works, Little Rock
Tile C&F Flooring and Rug Gallery, Little Rock