Story: Laura Keech Allen |
Though he’s now one of Little Rock’s top builders, Richard Harp began his career by building a 1,500-square-foot home in Fayetteville and organizing his receipts in a shoebox. “When my mom heard that, she offered to start entering invoices into Quickbooks!” he says. Despite his low-tech beginnings, the experience gave him a strong background in every aspect of home building, from the ground up, and after relocating to Little Rock, he launched his own business, Richard Harp Homes. Today, his work ranges from remodels to custom-designed homes, and he prides himself in being an expert in using energy-efficient building technologies, computer-based project management and home automation.
When Richard and his wife Brandy began thinking about building a new home for their family, including daughter Isabella and son Nicholas, the Bella Rosa Estates neighborhood was a natural choice, because Richard and his business partners had just begun developing it. “We enjoy the lot size and relative seclusion, yet we really have quick access to the major Little Rock corridors,” Brandy says. In addition, Richard, who is a certified graduate builder and a certified green professional with the National Association of Homebuilders, wanted to make the home as energy-efficient as possible, eventually earning designation as an Energy Star Partner.
Around the same time, interior designer Tobi Fairley of Tobi Fairley Interior Design began exploring the possibilities of a professional partnership with Richard. “I knew Brandy and Richard from Junior League events, and I invited him into my office to see our design process,” Tobi says. Immediately impressed, Richard asked her to meet with Brandy to discuss the design of their personal home. “The timing was perfect to form a partnership,” says Richard. The trio began an incredibly rewarding collaboration on the space. “I kept the structural and utilitarian interests in mind, and Brandy and Tobi ensured the spaces were matched with the correct fabrics, colors and furniture. So, as a team we built the house together,” he says.
Throughout the home, French-inspired design was a major influence. “The home was certainly inspired by French country design but executed in a simple way,” Tobi says. “The interiors are not overly accessorized, which gives it a very updated and fresh feel and allows the architectural elements to stand out.” A European color palette of blues, yellows and creams is a unifying element, from the floral and toile fabrics inside to the stone and stucco exterior and gray-blue roof. The hand-scraped hardwood floors, Rumsford-style fireplace with cast-stone surround and wrought-iron, travertine and granite finishes were all carefully chosen to create an overall atmosphere of relaxed elegance. Large windows allow beautiful views and copious natural sunlight. “We used traversing drapery on all the windows so that they could maintain the views and have total control over the amount of light in the space throughout the day and into the evenings,” says Tobi.
While creating a cohesive look for the home was essential to the Harps, it was also necessary that the home meet their needs as a family and have an open floor plan for entertaining. The master bedroom and children’s bedrooms are on the first floor, making it easy for Richard to check in on the kids from his home office, while the evenings find the family congregating in the open hearth room and kitchen. The master bedroom, however, was designed as a private retreat for Brandy and Richard, including a sitting area, stunning master bath and a second laundry facility. “The monochromatic color palette in the master suite is so serene and relaxing,” Tobi says. In fact, the finishes throughout the home are perfect for a busy family, thanks to their slightly rough-hewn nature. “Even though the influence is somewhat formal, the finishes are distressed and casual which cover a multitude of ‘sins’ when it comes to wear and tear from the kids,” she continues.
For Tobi and the Harps, the finished collaboration is far more rewarding than anything they could have created singly. Whether for family time, business or entertaining, the home is an ideal environment and a testament to all of their talents. “Richard made my job easier because his great knowledge of product and the building process helped translate my design ideas into structural elements,” says Tobi.