Date: July 21, 2008 | Story: Laura Keech Allen |
Looking at a home and seeing its innate potential is at the heart of Gary and Cathy Pursell’s work through Creative Heights Partners, their full-service design-build firm. The duo specializes in creating spaces influenced by European architecture which also function beautifully for the modern family. Their projects’ numerous outdoor living areas and flexible floor plans are joined by casual and intimate, yet surprisingly dramatic rooms for entertaining a crowd or hanging out with the kids, creating a style that is uniquely their own.
All of these philosophies were in play when the began renovating a home at the corner of Van Buren and Country Club in Little Rock’s Heights neighborhood as a spec project a few years ago, not yet sure whether or not they would move in. “We design every house with a mindset of ‘How would we want to live in this house, and what would make it work?’” Cathy says. So when they received an offer on their previous home, they jumped at the chance and relocated their two home offices, three children—Sarah Catherine Cook and Hanna and Wesley Pursell—and one dog into the newly remodeled home.
The home’s intense renovation changed almost everything about it, from the size and footprint to the location of the front door, which is now the centerpiece of a long, gallery-style porch facing Country Club, inspired by Cathy’s Louisiana roots. “The front porch is actually one of my favorite spots,” she says, “especially when it’s raining.” Although the house was expanded from about 1,800 square feet to 5,600 square feet, only three of the original rooms on the Van Buren side remained untouched, becoming Gary and Cathy’s offices and an adjacent powder bath. “The two offices are a must since we both work from home,” Cathy says. “I cannot work in Gary’s chaos, and he cannot stand my organization.”
Expanding the downstairs to include a stunning master suite allowed the upstairs to become the kids’ domain, with a separate entrance for 20-year-old Wesley’s quarters, large rooms for the girls and plenty of hangout spaces for their friends. Downstairs, the open living room and kitchen serve as the family’s home base, with the secluded backyard courtyard offering an additional living area. “The backyard was actually the initial inspiration,” Cathy says. “Gary and I will often start there, as the outside rooms of a property are so important to us. We absolutely loved all the trees in the yard and the opportunity to make a private living area for this home.”
Inside, Cathy introduced a neutral color scheme to bring attention to the interplay between outside and in, as well as the home’s stunning architecture, with soaring ceiling, exposed beams and eclectic touches. Natural materials ease the transition as well, with stone, antique oak and heated concrete flooring and pecky cypress cabinetry.
With a love of good design at the heart of this family, it’s only natural that they have such a visually stunning and practically functional space in which to live and work. Thanks to their home’s flexibility, it’s become the perfect spot for both a professional couple and groups of busy teenagers, and for both family time around the fireplace and elegant dinner parties.