Story: Jennifer Bonds | Photography: Rett Peek |
A Little Rock couple trades their traditional family home for a sleek, luxurious high-rise
When a family’s youngest child leaves the nest, a traditional family home begins to feel extravagantly unnecessary. Such was the case for a Little Rock businessman and his artist wife. “They were in the mood for a change, and liked the idea of being downtown, walking to dinner, and having the best of the city at their fingertips,” says Garry Mertins, of Garry Mertins Design. When he met the homeowners through a mutual friend, they had purchased a penthouse unit facing the Arkansas River, but the original plan for three bedrooms didn’t suit their desire for an open, airy space that could as likely be found in New York or Los Angeles. “They told me that all they needed was their art, their albums, and their books—everything else could stay behind,” he recalls. They no longer needed multiple bedrooms, and instead sought a space suitable for entertaining large crowds, but still cozy for the two of them. With Garry’s eye for drama and detail, and a team willing to push the limits of style and design, the homeowners got the empty nest of their dreams.
Garry worked with architect Hrand DuVallian to create a grand, contemporary space. “As we were looking at the way the unit was oriented, we decided we needed more space for the entry,” Garry says. “We bought part of the empty unit next door to make space for the oval entry and convinced the homeowners across the hall to do the same. We redesigned the elevator lobby, and now both units have the beautiful 14-foot-tall doors.” Inside, the kitchen, living, and dining areas occupy one large room, with the master suite, study, and art studio cleverly tucked behind.
State of the Art
“One of our main goals was an open living space, but the homeowners didn’t want to feel like they were sitting in a kitchen,” Garry explains. Most of the utilitarian space is hidden behind custom millwork made of bogged oak logs found in Kentucky and milled, but left raw to showcase their color and texture. The Wolf induction cooktop blends seamlessly into the granite counter, and the oven’s knobs rotate to hide themselves when not in use. An avid home chef, the homeowner wanted to be able to cook anything, without the odor of lingering scents, so Garry designed an exhaust hood in the dropped ceiling above. Additional work and pantry space is located on the back wall and hidden behind pocket doors. The Sub Zero refrigerator and freezer drawers, along with dishwasher drawers are concealed behind millwork, and every drawer is on a stainless steel track that opens to full extension. The custom hardware by Tommy Farrell runs the width of every drawer, helping it further blend into the space. The oven, a set of barstools, and the rest of the island cabinetry is tucked beneath a nine-centimeter-thick slab of granite with a waterfall edge.
Light it Up
“Lighting was a very important element,” Garry says. To make use of the space’s fourteen-foot ceilings, he designed dropped ceilings that are backlit with LED lights. “We created dimension and defined the different areas of the room in a subtle way. And, the space looks totally different at night,” he says. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer ample natural light during the day, and to capitalize on it, transom windows help move light into the private areas of the home.
The living area, in the center of the space, is anchored by a silk-and-wool rug and a sectional sofa. “The furniture is minimal, but not heavy,” Garry says of the open-backed sofa. The color scheme of cream, white, and gray is punctuated seasonally by pillows and throws. Opposite the sofa, panels on the hearth wall conceal a television and more storage. “There are minimal materials here, but they all work in harmony to create an urban environment that isn’t cold or sterile,” he says. The walnut dining table by Holly Hunt easily seats ten, and above it, a faux bronze chandelier is in the shape of a branch with citrine crystal flowers. Nearby, the couple’s baby grand piano is perfectly placed for entertaining dinner party guests, while a generous pair of armchairs is the ideal spot for sharing a cup of coffee. Garry outfitted the terrace with “the world’s heaviest outdoor furniture” to prevent mishaps on windy days.
“In the end we achieved their wonderful home in the sky,” Garry says. “And it really suits their needs now—it’s very easy to live in every day, but it’s also easy to lock up when they are ready to travel and explore.”
Interior design Garry Mertins, Garry Mertins Design, Little Rock, (501) 376-6600
Architect Hrand DuVallian
Contractor Lambeth Construction, Little Rock, (501) 379-8050
Accessories MertinsDykeHome, (501) 280-3200
Appliances Metro Appliances, Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800, North Little Rock, (501) 758-1988, Springdale, (479) 750-2200, metroappliancesandmore.com
Cabinetry Tommy Farrell, Tommy Farrell Furniture, North Little Rock, (501) 375-7225, tommyfarrell.com
Countertops All Natural Stone, Little Rock, (501) 280-9777
Kitchen/Bath designer Garry Mertins, Garry Mertins Design, Little Rock, (501) 376-6600; Hrand DuVallian
Fireplace Royal Overhead Door, Mabelvale, (501) 455-3667, royaldoors.com
Flooring—tile Arnold’s Flooring America, Little Rock, (501) 225-3840, arnoldsflooringlittlerock.com
Furniture Marshall Clements, Little Rock, (501) 663-1828, marshallclements.com; MertinsDykeHome, Little Rock, (501) 280-3200
Glass—entry table West Little Rock Glass, Little Rock, (501) 223-3034, westlittlerockglass.net
Hardware—custom Tommy Farrell, Tommy Farrell Furniture, North Little Rock, (501) 375-7225, tommyfarrell.com
Millwork Lambeth Construction, Little Rock, (501) 379-8050
Mirrors—entry Marshall Clements, Little Rock, (501) 663-1828, marshallclements.com
Rugs Garry Mertins, Garry Mertins Design, Little Rock, (501) 376-6600
Tile—backsplash All Natural Stone, Little Rock, (501) 280-9777