Date: April 21, 2008 |
When Kathleen and Len Pitcock were looking for lake houses in Hot Springs, they didn’t count on falling in love with a historic home miles from Lake Hamilton. “We saw this house on the internet,” says Kathleen, “and I said, ‘we’ve got to see it!’” The couple, who lived in a smaller, ranch-style home in Little Rock were not thinking about a permanent move to Hot Springs, but the sprawling 5,000-square-foot home built in 1955 by Peter Dierks Joers and still owned by the same family proved to be too much to resist. The Pitcocks decided to give up the lake house idea, sell their Little Rock home and make the move to Hot Springs.
“This was the perfect house for us,” says Kathleen, who had been collecting mid-century modern furnishings and accessories for years. The historic home is situated on six and a half acres only a few minutes from downtown, and Kathleen, who grew up in Hot Springs, was glad to be back home. Len and Kathleen are so happy with their find that they don’t even mind commuting to their jobs in Little Rock. Instead of a lake house, they found their dream house.
To make the deal even sweeter, the Joers family offered to sell the couple several pieces of original furniture from the unique estate. Since the Joers family owned the Dierks Lumber Company, eventually selling it to Weyerhauser, the woodworking and furniture in the home is a showplace of fine craftsmanship and attention to detail. “Every room is paneled in a different wood,” says Kathleen, who points out cherry cabinets in the kitchen, curly pine in the breakfast room, pecky cypress in the den, red oak in the dining room and walnut in the bedrooms. Limestone from Austin, Texas, is another material that the Joers used throughout the home to add unique flair. “Mr. Joers was a man big on details.”
Designed by Dallas architect Hal Anderson, the home also includes custom-designed furniture commissioned by the Joers from the Dunbar Furniture Company based in Berne, Indiana. A company founded in the late 1800s, which relied on the use of talented Swiss immigrants, Dunbar promoted a new modern functionalism that cleared away clutter in the American home. Long, lean sofas, structured chairs and boxy tables are mixed with curving lines in accessories and rugs to create a contrasting style of tailored contemporary design, and the Pitcocks were thrilled to be able to keep many of the home’s original furnishings. “There was really no question that we were going to have to have this furniture in this house,” explains Kathleen. “It just belonged here.”
They also have no plans to change much of anything about their mid-century treasure any time soon. “I’m keeping myself in check,” she admits, “by not buying just anything to go in this house. If I wait, I know I’ll find the perfect thing.” Jason Jones, an interior designer in Dallas who Kathleen met when he was working with Tom Chandler, has helped her “rearrange” many of the contemporary pieces. He also suggested repainting neutral cream walls with Chivalry Copper and Holiday Turquoise—lively 1950s-era colors from Sherwin Williams. And of course, the piece de resistance is the kidney-shaped turquoise pool in the backyard which overlooks several forested acres of Hot Springs National Park.
In the original kitchen, cherry cabinetry and paneling contrast with stainless-steel appliances and yellow Formica countertops. A custom-made copper ventilation hood made by a Scandinavian company is also original to the house and inspired the indoor grill built into limestone in the corner.
The Pitcocks purchased the dining room table, chairs and sideboard, which were custom-made for the Joers by the Indiana-based Dunbar Furniture Industries. The dining room table has a built-in limestone base that sits on top of the green terrazzo floor. Against the original bamboo grass cloth, artwork by Gregg Coker of Texarkana takes center stage.
The freestanding sideboard was built specifically to fit into the diagonal design on the red oak-paneled wall behind it. A lamp found by Kathleen at Fabulous Finds provides a contemporary touch and spotlights a collection of Murano glass.