Date: February 20, 2011 | Story: Interview by Diane Carroll | Styling: Diane Carroll |
At Home in Arkansas:
What influenced you to design your home around a central courtyard, with doors from nearly every room leading directly to it?
I found an image in a magazine years ago of a similar house, with open spaces and lots of windows for natural light. It seemed like the places my husband, Jim, and I had seen in Europe, open and inviting, a variety of types of rooms, casual but elegant.
AHIA: Taking an image you like and translating it into all the details that go into a new home is a huge undertaking. Where did you begin?
DT: The first part was finding a building site that would allow us to enjoy the sunrise in the morning and the sunset in the evenings. When we found this plot on the outskirts of Fayetteville, it afforded us privacy and the right positioning for the house to capitalize on natural light. We met with an architectural draftsman and he pulled all of our ideas together into a house plan. An important focus in the design was lining up doors and doorways for views outside.
AHIA: In addition to open and light, what design elements were important?
DT: Accommodating our family was the top priority. Jim and I have six children and six grandchildren between us, and having spaces for being together when they visit was important. We envisioned ourselves entertaining and spending a lot of time outside, especially with the grandchildren. We love the integrated aspect of the outdoors and indoors coming together, and the variety of rooms in the house means there are places for everyone. There are areas that are more little-kid friendly, and other areas, like the living and dining spaces, that are more for adults.
AHIA: You mentioned casual yet elegant, and that look carries through to even the terrace and the patio.
DT: I’ve always been drawn to an elegant look, but I want people to be comfortable as well. I tried to strike a balance. The casualness comes through in bringing the outdoors in; when people walk up to the front door, there’s a sense of welcome in being able to see all the way through to the courtyard. The furniture choices are based on what I gravitate to, styles I’ve always liked. I also worked with an interior designer, Carolyn Carroll, who helped with paint colors, window treatments and pulling together all the details.
AHIA: Did the fact that most of the main rooms open to the outdoors influence your design choices?
DT: Absolutely. I extended the colors from the outside to the inside. The gardens are all white and green—everything flowering is white, from dogwoods to crape myrtles to hydrangeas. I used white throughout the interiors, a mix of shades to keep the rooms warm, especially for the different seasons. I didn’t use any dark paint colors or fabrics; I let accessories and art add that contrast.
I also used materials that work well with the transition from inside to out. We used marble for the floors in the center of the house, alongside the courtyard, because they’re durable and easy to clean. Rugs would be difficult with kids and the open floor plan, so we kept the floors bare in the main areas.
AHIA: What was your inspiration for the courtyard?
DT: It’s European in style, with the terrace and the patio as actual outdoor rooms with places to sit and relax or dine. Shady spaces were important, and the trees surrounding us soften the sun in the evenings. We worked with a landscape architect and chose plants that thrive in our region but also fit within the framework of our design, which has formal lines but informal plantings. Over the years, I’ve learned about plants and developed an interest in gardening, and I enjoy being able to spend time working in the garden. It’s such a good feeling to see something you’ve planted come to life and thrive; there’s that maternal component in knowing you’ve provided the nurture. It’s the same good feeling as knowing you’re providing a comfortable place for your family.
Builder Gary Striegler, Fayetteville
Interior design consultation Carolyn Carroll, Fayetteville
Landscape architect Travis Brooks, Fayetteville
Landscape installation Colonial Hills Landscaping, Fayetteville
Landscape maintenance DK Design, Fayetteville
Building materials National Home Center, Fayetteville
Brick Boral Bricks, Lowell
Drapery fabric Interior Fabrics and Design, Fayetteville
Floors Wood Floor Gallery, Springdale; Ozark Patterned Concrete, Lowell
Furnishings Cobblestone & Vine, Little Rock
Paint Benjamin Moore, locations statewide
Painter Robert Wilson Painting, Rogers
Plumbing fixtures Ferguson, Springdale
Rug Hadidi Oriental Rug Co., Little Rock
Screen Fabulous Finds Antiques, Little Rock
Sound and AV systems AV Design Consultants Inc., Springdale