Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Lauren Cerrato |
A Little Rock couple thinks upward to gain space (and style!) for their family
When Sarah and Russell Brantley bought their Heights cottage in 2008, they planned to be there seven to 10 years. However, as they began to get to know the neighborhood families and have children of their own, they became attached. “I was selling real estate for the Janet Jones Company at the time, so I was constantly in and out of houses all over the neighborhood: new, old, remodels, homes with additions, and I just kept falling more in love with our current house,” Sarah says. Rather than moving to a new neighborhood, they decided to remedy their need for more space (they were expecting their second child at the time) with the addition of a second story as well as updates to the ground floor. Along with architect Carolyn Lindsey, designers and longtime family friends Christy Snowden Davis and Elaine Green contributed to the early stages of planning the renovation.
However, over time Sarah developed a fondness for design and began to put her talents to work, selecting everything from paint colors and lighting to hardware and accessories for her family’s new space. She enjoyed the process so much she founded S. Smith Brantley, a full-service design business, where she helps clients with renovations, additions, and style updates.
Today, you’ll find the family of five (baby Helen was born in 2017) enjoying the view from their front porch, doing crafts in the playroom, or eating dinner out back—with the littlest ones seated inside the playhouse. “I always tell people that your house has to work for you; just because you see something on Pinterest or in a magazine doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. It has to function,” Sarah says. The renovation—along with Sarah’s dose of tailored, personalized style—has done just that for the Brantleys.
>> The Brantleys called on architect Carolyn Lindsey of Yeary Lindsey Architects to help bring their vision of turning a one-story cottage into a two-story family home. “They brought me a picture of a front elevation they liked, and they even had a floor plan—that was very doable and realistic—roughed out,” Carolyn recalls. “We went from there to help them get what they wanted and needed, and make the home look like it belongs in the neighborhood.”
Carved Out & Curated
What was once the laundry room is now a small formal living room for the couple to enjoy. Sarah found the Lee Industries sofa at a Roy Dudley Estate Sale and had it recovered with a nailhead trim to accentuate its contemporary design. Cream-hued drapery panels on an acrylic and gold rod add polish to the design, while European mounts from Russell’s successful deer hunts are a personal—and on-trend—addition. “I love going into the living room to escape for a bit of peace and quiet,” Sarah says. “It’s the perfect spot for Russell or me to take a phone call, read, or to visit with each other or friends without distractions.”
During the renovation, a wall in the kitchen was removed, extending the square footage of the room and creating space for a dining area. The table accommodates the family with a mix of Windsor dining chairs and upholstered ball-and-claw hostess seats, which is an unexpected combination of traditional styles.
Work Meets Play
“I wanted a place that would work from toddler to teen,” Sarah says of the downstairs playroom (pictured left), which is visible from the kitchen thanks to glass pocket doors. “This room functions exactly as I had hoped it would. It’s a place for the children to play, color, and craft while I cook dinner nearby or work on the computer in that room.” Sarah notes that the space is already starting to evolve. The couple’s oldest daughter, Catherine Riley, started kindergarten last fall and has been using the area to complete homework.
“I love it when people say you have a happy home. I want our house to feel happy when you come in the front door.” –Sarah Brantley
Girly & Graceful
Color abounds in Catherine Riley’s room. “Her room was not pink when we moved back in after the renovation, but she said she couldn’t sleep at night until she had a pink room,” Sarah laughs. She chose a soft shade to meet her daughter’s request and coordinate with the furnishings, which include an antique chest from Fabulous Finds that was painted in a robin’s egg blue. As for the bedding, Sarah recalls, “I went into Cynthia East one day and saw that fabric and had to have it. She was maybe 10 months old at the time, so I just hung on to it knowing that whenever we decided to do her room, I would have it.”
Pretty in Pink
Playing off the range of pinks seen in her room, the walls of Catherine Riley’s bath are covered in Sherwin-Williams’ “Oleander,” a bubblegum pink hue. Sarah chose classic finishes that will stand the test of time, while a built-in vanity gives the option for the space to evolve in its use as their daughter grows. “It’s already one of her favorite spots to do pretend makeup or play,” Sarah says of the feature.
Little Boy’s Lair
Sarah knew she wanted the look of navy grasscloth in her son’s room, but she worried about its practicality. “When I was looking at it, I thought, ‘I can just see Hamilton picking it apart.’ So I actually did vinyl,” she says. “It’s worked out really well because sometimes with little boys you just need to be able to wipe your walls down—and I can do that!” The tartan plaid seen on the bedskirts and pillows was a find Sarah spotted at Cynthia East Fabrics. She ran with its palette by incorporating subtle orange accents throughout the space. The chest was a piece that came from Russell’s family home: “It actually came with his childhood home when his parents bought the house. I love it and had used it in our kitchen before moving it here,” Sarah says.
The home’s second story houses all of the children’s bedrooms. Upon climbing the staircase, the landing opens to a centrally located playroom that will evolve into a lounge area as the kids grow older. A window seat with a blue-and-white elephant-print cushion is a favorite reading spot, while the built-in surround offers both open and concealed storage.
A custom-built playhouse, a gift from a set of the children’s grandparents, is a favorite backyard hangout for the smallest members of the family. “They are out there all of the time,” Sarah says. “They eat dinner at the table in there a lot when the weather is nice. The playhouse is also a drive-thru sometimes, and, of course, a stage; we have outdoor speakers and get lots of requests for music,” she laughs.
The back porch was designed with grown-ups in mind. An outdoor seating area can accommodate a crowd and offers an unobstructed view of the nearby playhouse, meaning the Brantleys can relax while keeping an eye on their children. Striped outdoor drapes add flair to the design and can be opened to cover the back railing for privacy.
Architect Carolyn Lindsey, AIA, Yeary Lindsey Architects Contractor Jacob White Construction Interior design Sarah Brantley, S. Smith Brantley Landscape design Debbie Burchett, Burchett’s Landscape & Maintenance Accessories Cobblestone & Vine, Providence Design, and White Goat Appliances Metro Appliances & More Art Ashley Saer and Cobblestone & Vine Bedding and upholstery Cynthia East Fabrics Carpet and tile ProSource of Little Rock Fabrics Cynthia East Fabrics and Designer Effects Lighting Cobblestone & Vine and TEC Electric Furniture Cobblestone & Vine, Cynthia East Fabrics, Fabulous Finds Antique Mall, Phoenix Interiors, Roy Dudley Estate Sales, and White Goat Hardware PC Hardware Mirrors Glass Erectors Rugs C&F Flooring and Rug Gallery Wallpaper and window coverings Designer Effects Windows Kaufman Lumber