Story: Elizabeth Owen | Styling: Mandy Keener |
When Ashley Jones seeks inspiration for her paintings and photography projects, she finds it in the refreshing greens and blues of nature. But when it came to her 1969 ranch home in the North Little Rock neighborhood of Lakewood, lively colors and natural elements were clearly lacking. “The main living spaces were incredibly dark and closed off with tiny rooms,” says Ashley. “It didn’t leave me very inspired.”
And so Ashley, general manager for Merle Norman in the greater Little Rock area, set about transforming her kitchen, dining and living rooms into one open and airy space. She took her time and pondered the prospect of renovating for an entire year while planning and outlining a budget, and then began the project with the help of contractor Richard Harp.
A wall separating the dining room from the living and kitchen areas was the first to go, followed by scraping heavy texture off the ceiling and removing paneling. Wood floors were installed, and upper cabinets in the kitchen were replaced while lower cabinets were refaced. “It really helped save time and a lot of money to be able to salvage some of them,” Ashley adds.
Next, the home’s original pendant lights were changed to recessed lighting, a move Ashley found to be one of the most dramatic changes of the renovation. “It brightened the entire space and I really love the gallery feel it created,” she says.
Ashley painted the walls and kitchen cabinets and installed baseboards herself. She also installed the stainless steel backsplash in her kitchen by taking a paper template to a sheet metal shop. “They cut everything to size and I installed it with Liquid Nails,” says Ashley. “I honestly just Googled instructions on how to do it.”
Between her job, painting, photography and do-it-yourself projects on the weekend, Ashley notes that renovating wasn’t always easy. “There were times when I thought, ‘No woman should have to work this hard!’” she says. Luckily, her father came to her aid and helped her finish the painting projects. He also built a custom console and entertainment center in the living area.
Ashley’s projects didn’t end there. She stripped, sanded and gave her grandmother’s buffet a crisp coat of white paint. A vintage garage sale table, complete with dark wood and a laminate top, was made-over with a coat of paint and several glossy clear coats from a car refinishing shop.
When advising people considering renovations, Ashley recommends taking the process slowly. “It gave me time to consider all the angles and make sure it turned out the way I wanted,” she adds.
The result of Ashley’s renovation is a white airy space accented with the blues and greens she finds inspiring, a crisp, open kitchen and a gallery for her artwork and photographs. Despite the long hours of hard work, she’s thrilled with the renovation results. “I love it here,” she says. “I love to cook and have people over. I love to paint. And now I have a home that inspires me to do all those things.”
Contractor Richard Harp Homes, Little Rock
Dining table Pottery Barn, locations statewide
Paint Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide
Sofa/chairs Cleo’s Furniture, Little Rock