Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Chip Jones |
Designer Andrea Brooks revives her family’s treasured south Arkansas cabin in an effort to honor their heritage and create a comfortable, modernized environment for future generations
Beloved places and pastimes often come to mind when one reflects on the relationships shared with a parent or close relative. For Andrea Brooks, “the cabin”—as she affectionately refers to it—is just that place when fond memories of her father, John Lee Anthony, surface. Built under his direction in the 1990s, the cabin has enjoyed a storied history of family gatherings along with some fresh updates—prompted by an upstairs water leak—to make it even more inviting for the family members who often gather there.
Brooks’s mother, Pat Anthony, purchased the land where the cabin is located as a birthday present for her husband nearly 40 years ago. In decades past, an Anthony saw mill—part of the family business—was located on the property; however, in more recent times, the land has been used for play rather than work. “I remember coming here [to a separate original lake house on the land] when I was a kid as a retreat. When I lived in Dallas and would come home, this was a getaway for me—a place to escape the busyness of the city,” Brooks says.
Brooks’s father had a strong vision for the property and had long pined for a log home. The cabin is the culmination of this vision. Designed as a retreat, which he and Pat lived in full-time from the late 1990s until he passed away in 2001, the cabin is filled with historical pieces that are meaningful to the family. Outdoors, a private stocked pond and open expanse of land for roaming and exploring nature welcome family members eager to share the same experiences. “My father was an outdoorsman at his core, and this place is a reflection of that,” Brooks says. The love he had for the place spilled over into Brooks and her two siblings as well. In fact, she finds the property so enchanting she chose it as the setting for her July 1997 wedding to her husband, Jay.
Original House Plan
Being in the timber business, a log cabin home seemed like a natural fit for the Anthonys. In fact, much of the original interior bones of the home are reminiscent of the Anthony family’s profession as well. For example, the wooden beams seen throughout the structure are from the Anthony plant. John Lee had them “roughed up” for use in the cabin. Additionally, both the home’s walls as well as the kitchen cabinetry are constructed from pecky cypress that is native to the area. These materials are not only reflective of the family business, but also of the surrounding landscape, thus adding to the home’s rustic look.
Following her husband’s death, Pat Anthony returned to El Dorado to live and the cabin was used less frequently. In the fall of 2012, Pat visited the property with a plumber to repair a sink in the upstairs bathroom and the outlook had changed. Upon opening the door to the house, they discovered the sink had been leaking for three weeks. The leak was so massive that it affected much of the downstairs, including the kitchen and master bedroom. “It completely warped much of the furniture,” Brooks says. “The real wood flooring looked like bent piano keys,” she recalls. “This was really a turning point for the cabin. We weren’t coming here as much as I would have liked,” she adds, noting that reviving the home was a relevant reality for it to continue as a cherished family gathering spot.
Knowing a full-scale renovation would be necessary to save the space, Brooks set out to update the house while staying true to her father’s vision. “I feel like this was a labor of love—a love letter to my dad to honor him and his dream home,” she says. Her main remodeling goals included making the space a bit more modern, adding feminine touches, and keeping everything comfortable. To do this, she used many of the home’s existing furnishings, including antiques and collectibles her father had amassed through the years while incorporating new hues and upholstered furniture as well as fresh outdoor furnishings. The footprint of the home did not change, but rather was restored so it could last through another generation.
A New Tradition
With the cabin’s renovation complete, Brooks says they use it more than ever. “My entire family comes here for Christmas. My nieces, who live in Montgomery, Alabama, always look forward to having the holidays here, and we all open presents and hang out in the living room,” she says of the comfortable and welcoming space. This year, the family is also planning a Fourth of July gathering on the property, where they can fish, cook, and enjoy the simple pleasures of the land and being together—much the way Brooks’s father may have envisioned it at first sight.
Interior design Andrea Brooks Interiors, El Dorado, (870) 314-1334, andreabrooksinteriors.com
Art Backwoods Art & Frame, El Dorado, (870) 863-5254; Cobblestone and Vine, Little Rock, (501) 664-4249, West Little Rock, (501) 219-3676, cobblestoneandvine.com
Bedding Andrea Brooks Interiors, El Dorado, (870) 314-1334, andreabrooksinteriors.com; Pottery Barn, Little Rock, (501) 663-0181, Rogers, (479) 246-0118, potterybarn.com
Carpet, flooring, and tile—backsplash Storey’s Floor & Carpet, Inc., El Dorado, (870) 862-9446, storeysfloor.com
Countertops Classic Marble & Granite, El Dorado, (870) 863-5033, marbleexperts.com
Draperies—master bedroom Drapes & Design by Denise, El Dorado, (870) 814-2850
Furniture Blackmon’s Furniture & Appliances, El Dorado, (870) 862-9777; Cantrell Furniture Design Center, Little Rock, (501) 225-0002, cantrellfurniture.com; Cobblestone and Vine, Little Rock, (501) 664-4249, West Little Rock, (501) 219-3676, cobblestoneandvine.com; Sydney Murphy Design, El Dorado, (870) 863-6625, sydneymurphydesign.com
Outdoor furnishings Antique Brick Outdoors, Little Rock, (501) 375-0060, antiquebrickoutdoors.com
Lighting The Shade Above, Little Rock, (501) 374-3555, theshadeabove.com
Paint Sherwin-Williams, Little Rock, sherwin-williams.com
Rugs Hadidi Rug and Design Gallery, Little Rock, (501) 225-8999, hadidiruggallery.com