Story: Jennifer Bonds | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Chip Jones |
A once dark, Tudor-inspired home gets a light, bright makeover to welcome a large family home for the holidays
If three is a crowd, then 19 is, well, a full house. Just ask the Stowers family, who were quickly outgrowing their traditional home in the Pleasant Valley area of Little Rock. With three adult daughters who lived out of town, and grandchildren being added almost yearly, Bill and Carolyn decided to buck the trend of their fellow empty nesters and upsize instead. However, rather than an extensive real estate search, their new home came by way of an unexpected swap.
“We were at a Super Bowl party in the home of some friends in the neighborhood, and my husband told the homeowner that if they were ever interested in selling their house, they should give us a call,” Carolyn Stowers remembers. “Five years later, we got the call.” It was Christmas Eve, and they were at church with their daughters and their families. “My husband looked at our family—which now occupied an entire pew—and whispered to me, ‘I’m going to tell him yes.’” On December 26, the two couples walked through both homes, shook hands and “that was that,” Carolyn says. “Dad had always loved this house,” recalls the Stowers’ youngest daughter, Katie Henry. “My sisters and I had all settled in different places, and they wanted a place where we could all feel comfortable coming home for the holidays.”
Carolyn’s first order of business was lightening up the English Tudor-inspired home, which was full of dark paint and finishes. Most of the main floor is now painted a creamy white, creating a serene backdrop for the Stowers’ restrained palette of ivory, gold, and burnt orange. In the kitchen, she had the once-dark cabinets painted and replaced black counters with a lighter stone. In the living room, the large stone fireplace was weighing down the new, lighter palette, so Carolyn had Tracy Rivers of Angelfish Studios soften it with a custom wash. However, aside from adding a bunkroom upstairs, they did not make significant structural changes.
Though not formally trained in interior design, Carolyn has always shown a particular skill in the art, according to her daughter, who owns Katie Grace Designs. “We share a common love for details and design,” Katie says. “She has a very refined eye, especially when it comes to editing spaces.”
“Katie is my sounding board. I can try five different things and not be satisfied, and she will come in and have it beautiful in five minutes,” Carolyn adds. Still, most of the home’s style is a testament to Carolyn’s own design sense. She supplemented pieces from her previous home with family heirlooms and new furnishings—many sourced locally at Little Rock’s Cobblestone & Vine.
Deck the Halls
This spacious home is never more appreciated than during the holiday season, when the Stowers come together to celebrate family, honor traditions, and make memories. With the help of local Christmas decorator Whitney Lammers, Carolyn dresses the home to the nines with fresh greenery—350 feet!—a twelve-foot-tall tree, and a collection of angels started by and inherited from her grandmother. “As soon as they hear that we are all coming, they start getting ready for us,” Katie says. “My dad is in charge of getting the outside all lit up, and my mom attends to every detail inside to make sure we all have that feeling of being ‘home for Christmas.’”
The family’s holiday celebration begins at a Christmas Eve church service, then they all—nineteen of them—fit strategically into the dining room for their traditional meal of beef tenderloin. Next, they open their first gifts—matching pajamas for everyone—and gather to hear a reading of the Christmas story from the Bible. On Christmas morning, the children are greeted with piles of presents. “With so many children, the living room looks like Santa’s workshop,” Katie says. “It is loud and chaotic, but we are all happy just to be together.” As a special treat each year, the grandchildren collaborate on a reenactment of the birth of Jesus Christ. The oldest, at sixteen, narrates from the second-story catwalk. “It’s as wonderful as you can imagine it would be—five-year-old shepherds and all,” Carolyn says.
Christmas décor Whitney Lammers, Little Rock, (501) 690-3663
Interior design Katie Henry, Katie Grace Designs, Little Rock, (479) 466-1069, katiegracedesigns.com
Kitchen and bath design Leslie Tetrev, Inside Effects, North Little Rock, (501) 954-8866, insideeffects.com
Accessories Cobblestone & Vine, Little Rock, (501) 664-4249, West Little Rock, 219-3676, cobblestoneandvine.com; Katie Grace Designs, Little Rock, (479) 466-1069, katiegracedesigns.com; Marshall Clements, Little Rock, (501) 954-7900, marshallclements.com; Tipton & Hurst, locations throughout central Arkansas, (501) 666-3333, tiptonhurst.com
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800, North Little Rock, (501) 758-1988, Springdale, (479) 750-2200, metroappliancesandmore.com
Art Bear Hill Interiors, Little Rock, (501) 907-9272, bearhillinteriors.com; Cobblestone & Vine, Little Rock, (501) 664-4249, West Little Rock, 219-3676, cobblestoneandvine.com
Fabrics Cynthia East, Little Rock, (501) 663-0460, cynthiaeastfabrics.com; Interior Fabrics and Design, Fayetteville, (479) 444-0222
Furniture Cobblestone & Vine, Little Rock, (501) 664-4249, West Little Rock, 219-3676, cobblestoneandvine.com; Katie Grace Designs, Little Rock, (479) 466-1069, katiegracedesigns.com
Lighting Cobblestone & Vine, Little Rock, (501) 664-4249, West Little Rock, 219-3676, cobblestoneandvine.com
Outdoor furnishings—containers and plants The Good Earth Garden Center, Little Rock, (501) 868-4666, thegoodearthgarden.com
Paint Benjamin Moore, locations statewide, benjaminmoore.com; Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide, sherwin-williams.com
Painting Franklin Paint Company, Little Rock, (501) 590-0892
Painting—decorative Angelfish Studios, Little Rock, (501) 960-4826, theangelfishstudios.com
Window coverings Cynthia East, Little Rock, (501) 663-0460, cynthiaeastfabrics.com