Story: Interview by Murrye Bernard | Styling: Mandy Keener |
At Home in Arkansas: You and your husband have followed creative career paths, which led you to Seattle. What drew you back to Arkansas, where you chose to build your home?
Kylie Williams: I have a degree in art history, and in Seattle, I worked for artist Dale Chihuly. My husband, Dustin, is a web user experience and interface designer. Before we had our child, we decided to move back to Arkansas to be near family. I chose to take a couple of years off from my career, but I needed a project.
AHIA: You knew from the beginning that you wanted this house to be green.
KW: In Seattle, living green was not only popular but expected. We chose to build our house incorporating many of the green ideals we had seen and adopted on the West Coast. We sat down with our dear friend and intern architect, Aaron Scott, and told him we wanted to incorporate two things, amazing design and green products, wherever possible. However, that’s not exactly an easy feat right now in Arkansas.
AHIA: One of the main tenants of green design is the incorporation of local materials. How did you manage that in an affordable way?
KW: Once we began compiling ideas and getting quotes, we saw our building budget skyrocket. I kept thinking green might as well translate into expensive. It was hard to find local suppliers for many of the products that we wanted to use. Though we could have shipped materials in from all over the U.S., it was important to us to not only support local businesses, but to also save energy by eliminating shipping. Luckily, we were able to come up with feasible and affordable green features to incorporate into our house’s design.
AHIA: The aesthetic of your home is open and modern. Were you inspired by the architecture of Seattle?
KW: A lot of buildings there have been repurposed, so there is a juxtaposition between two different styles: older architecture with newer, streamlined design. We lived in a loft apartment, and I loved the industrial look of high ceilings with exposed ductwork. I wanted to bring that look to our great room, which is a large, open space that includes the living room, kitchen, dining room and office loft. I can cook dinner while watching our daughter, Harper, play in the living room, and still chat with Dustin while he’s in our office loft, all without having to walk into another room.
AHIA: The interior is neutral with pops of color. How did your artistic background influence the design?
KW: Many people are stuck on limited color palettes, but I wanted my house to contain every color. Dale Chihuly’s color theory is amazing, and I learned a lot from him. I think that if you have a clean background, such as a neutral wall, you can use every single color of the rainbow.
AHIA: Your home is also full of natural light, which is an effective passive solar design strategy.
KW: After moving back from Seattle, where it was dreary for nine months out of the year, we really wanted to have a light-infused house. Smart designer that he is, Aaron positioned our house so that we take advantage of the sunlight throughout the day, which streams into every single room from more than 60 windows. I literally do not turn on a light in this house until about 7 p.m.
AHIA: Have you experienced significant savings on energy bills?
KW: The first energy bill we received after moving into our house floored us. We had previously rented a small, older bungalow in Little Rock and it was eye opening to realize how much energy we had expended in that house. In the new house, we have doubled our square footage yet cut our energy bill in half.
AHIA: What advice would you give to homeowners who are considering building green?
KW: We live better, we feel better and we are happy that we were able to keep our budget intact and build a house that has some amazing green features. I don’t think it’s necessary to cover your house with solar panels, invest in a pricey geothermal cooling system or house a water silo in your backyard when you think of renovating or building. Just be smart, do your research and find ways to incorporate green wherever you can.
Design Aaron Scott, Cromwell Architects Engineers, Little Rock
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, locations statewide
Concrete flooring Innovative Concrete Systems, Little Rock
Countertops Daniel Jimenez, Contracting and Design Solutions LLC, Little Rock
Paint Sherwin-Williams, Valspar, locations statewide
Windows, doors Lewis Lumber & Supply, Benton
Window treatments The Warp and Woof, Conway
Local, Sustainable Building Products
Kylie Williams shares details about affordable, practical and locally available green building products she discovered.
• Concrete fiberboard panels (Hardie Board and Hardie Plank) are manufactured from recycled products, making them a great alternative to traditional siding.
• Metal roofing has low environmental impact, is UV/solar reflective and has a longer life span than traditional roofing elements.
• Cellulose insulation is composed of recycled wood products, requires less energy to create and is cost-effective.
• Gravel driveways and water permeable paving keep excess rainwater and contaminants out of drainage systems, and are an affordable alternative to a paved driveway.
• Polished concrete flooring is easy to clean, and is a recycled and recyclable material; it doesn’t harbor allergens either, as carpet can.
• Low or no-VOC paints for improved air quality, a priority especially for a household with young children.