Date: June 25, 2009 | Story: Diane Carroll |
It all started with a weekend visit to a friend’s vacation home on Eden Isle on Greers Ferry Lake. Smitten by the expansive lake views and the wooded backyards where neighborhood kids played freely, a Little Rock couple with three young children decided to look for a similar retreat of their own.
House hunting proved difficult though, as their favorite waterfront lot already had a 1970s era home on it, a place so dark and outdated that the family found it gloomy. “We walked away, but we ended up thinking about it for months,” says the homeowner. “The location was ideal and the bones of the house were good, so we bought it with the idea of giving it a fresh update.”
They called in Little Rock designer Cortney Singleton, who knew the area well from spending her own childhood summers on the lake and subsequently working with several clients to update their Eden Isle homes. “I’m used to the architectural style and 70s era design elements,” says Singleton, “and this place had the typical dark paneling and trim, plus old carpeting, even in the bathrooms.”
Painting all the walls and woodwork white became the starting point for transforming the 1,900 square foot home, and replacing the carpeting with light-colored hardwood floors further brightened the spaces. Within this now-neutral shell, the homeowners’ goal was to create family-friendly rooms that had the crisp, clean and inviting feel of a lakeside retreat, and Singleton chose a color palette of soft beiges, tans, and blues to create that effect.
“Family-oriented yet crisp can be a tricky combo,” says Singleton, “which led us to choose furnishings with slipcovers and use natural linen instead of pure white—something that would be more forgiving with kids coming in and out of the house.” She opted for pillows, rugs, and other accessories in blue and tan to enliven the rooms and mixed in tables with a dark finish for contrast.
As a final unifying element, she topped the windows with white linen curtains. “Rooms with white walls can seem cold and sterile if you aren’t careful,” says Singleton. “The curtains were the perfect way to soften the space, and by sticking to the wall color, they didn’t distract from the view.”
To accommodate visits from friends and family, the homeowners converted a large bedroom into a guest suite, complete with a queen-size bed and built-in bunk beds. “The room had an awkward alcove,” says the homeowner, “and building in the beds proved a great solution for making use of that space and adding extra sleeping quarters.” Singleton outfitted the suite in bright blue and green bedding and accent pieces, using colors that complemented the rest of the house while creating an inviting retreat for guests.
The homeowners’ favorite space for entertaining was a small deck directly off the living room, which offered the best view of the lake but was too tiny to hold outdoor furnishings. As part of their home makeover, they enlarged the area, adding a sink, refrigerator and ample seating, then completed it with a wide stairway leading down to a fire pit near the lake’s shoreline.
“We now have so many comfortable places to hang out, and we look forward to being here as often as we can,” says the homeowner. “I can feel my stress lift away a little bit just by walking through the door,” adds Singleton. “Even if I’m here working and talking design, you can’t resist kicking back in one of those chairs and relaxing for awhile.”
Interior design Cortney Singleton Interiors, Little Rock
Contractor Ron Pearce Construction, Heber Springs
Rugs and living room furniture Cobblestone and Vine, Little Rock