Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Chip Jones |
A casually meandering flow of outdoor spaces enhanced with a few fresh style updates inspires opportunities for gathering, relaxing, and reflection in the backyard of this Little Rock home
“Penny is excited about life, and her surroundings are important to her,” Mona Thompson of Providence Design says of her client and the owner of this spacious outdoor area, Penny Beebe. In talking with Beebe, it’s easy to see her enthusiasm—and her eagerness to share it with others—especially in regard to her multipurpose outdoor retreat. “I really wanted to expand my living space and have an area for parties. I also needed a new liner in my pool and thought it would be a good time to add the pergola I had always wanted,” Beebe says of her motivation for updating the backyard after spending close to a decade in her Little Rock home. Beebe also knew she wanted to work with Thompson and her design partner and sister, Talena Ray, once again after they completed several projects for the interior of her home. In addition to her partnership with Providence, Beebe called on several other trusted individuals she had worked with in the past to help achieve her dreams for the space. Here are three ways the team made it happen.
Create Outdoor Rooms
Because the outdoor area is such an intrinsic part of Beebe’s home and her way of life, Ray and Thompson approached the space much as they would the interior of a home. “We looked at it as though we were building outdoor rooms,” Thompson says. “There’s the pool area, the dining room, the porch, and the sitting area by the fireplace—and although they are all outdoors, there are as many details as you would find in any one of our interior projects,” she adds. One of Beebe’s main desires was to create a “flow” from one space to another; “there were a lot of wonderful pockets in my backyard, but the area really lacked a cohesive way to enjoy them all,” she says. To remedy this, The Good Earth Garden Center laid flagstone walkways and stepping stones to create pathways that lead from one area to another. Greenery and seasonal containers help to fill in gaps and add to the cohesion.
Add a European Flair
“The outdoor area was more rustic before the renovation,” Thompson says. “We wanted to put a European spin on it.” Several areas in particular reflect this vision. For example, the French-dormer-window-style mirror that hangs over the fireplace replaced a metal deer head that previously watched over the fire. On the porch, dressy—yet durable, outdoor-grade—fabrics and accessories lend a comfortable European flair. And, perhaps most predominantly, the centrally located dining table, iron chandelier, and pergola—which was built by carpenter Tom Presley who had worked with Beebe on several projects previously—all echo influence from abroad. “One of my dreams is to go to Italy,” Beebe says. “Now, I feel like I have just created it in my backyard.”
Make It Entertaining
On the particular occasion shown here, the scene is set for an early spring dinner party. “There’s something magical about dining al fresco and making my guests feel at home in my own backyard,” Beebe notes. Adding to the ambience are blue-and-white ginger jars, which line the center of the ten-foot-long concrete table to create an eye-catching centerpiece that also mirrors the blue hues seen in the pool. Additionally, ruffled linen napkins in a neutral hue convey elegance while still remaining unfussy and casual enough for outdoor use. Overhead, battery-operated candles illuminate the chandelier and cast an enchanting glow on the dinner table. “I can do so many different things with the pergola to change the look for different events and seasons,” Beebe adds. “I just love that everything here is so comfortable, and I had such a wonderful time collaborating with Providence and everyone else to make it so warm and inviting,” she concludes.
Carpentry—pergola and gate Tom Presley, Bigelow, (501) 804-3726
Design Talena Ray and Mona Thompson, Providence Design, Little Rock, (501) 372-1886, providenceltddesign.com
Landscape design The Good Earth Garden Center, Little Rock, (501) 868-4666, thegoodearthgarden.com
Accessories and lighting Providence Design, Little Rock, (501) 372-1886, providenceltddesign.com
Floral—silk trees Silks A Bloom, Little Rock, (501) 228-6989
Outdoor furniture Antique Brick Outdoors, Little Rock, (501) 375-0060, antiquebrickoutdoors.com; Ken Rash’s of Arkansas, Little Rock, (501) 663-1818, kenrashsoutdoorfurniture.com; Providence Design, Little Rock, (501) 372-1886, providenceltddesign.com
Painting—decorative Phinality Design, North Little Rock, (501) 349-4196
Pool—liner and maintenance Morehead Pools, Little Rock, (501) 868-7946, moreheadpools.com