Date: December 22, 2011 | Story: Interview by Tiffany Burgess | Styling: Diane Carroll |
At Home in Arkansas: This entire home seems to have a light, livable feel that could work for any time of day or any occasion. How do you describe this style?
Designer Jim Howard of James Michael Howard, Inc.: It’s really classic American design that incorporates pieces of European furniture. I used true American colors that are light, faded and seem to catch the sunlight as the basis for the palette, and then added texture through fabrics and furniture. Since Dr. Ezeldin is originally from Syria and his wife was born in Brazil, it was important for them to embrace the local culture in Arkansas and for those ideas and values to be reflected in their home. We tried to accomplish this through strong, classic pieces of furniture, as well as fabrics and accessories.
AHIA: The Ezeldins also have three young children. Was it a challenge to make the rooms work for them as well?
JH: It flowed naturally as a part of the overall design. We all lead such busy lives that it’s important to have rooms that are truly comfortable—where you can turn off your cell phone, relax and just enjoy being together. This home has rooms where the entire family can gather to do that and also separate into smaller spaces that allow for personal retreats. Things like large sofas and ottomans with storage and great lighting throughout the home make it work for all ages. We also used darker fabrics, like the chocolate brown, in the family room. When you use darker fabrics and livable textures you don’t have to worry about your kids bringing in a sandwich or having drinks in the room—it’s a very pragmatic approach.
AHIA: This practical approach seems to carry over into the kitchen area.
JH: It does. It seems inevitable that the kitchen is where families tend to spend the most time. We created defined living, cooking and dining areas in this space to allow everyone to be together as much as possible. When I first began to spend time with the Ezeldins, I noticed Sandra was always busy preparing meals or snacks for her family. Her husband and children liked to gather around while she was doing this. Having a dining area as well as a gathering area in the kitchen allows everyone to talk and interact whether they are cooking, doing homework or eating dinner.
AHIA: You also mentioned the large scale of the sofas and ottomans in the family room. Did the size of the rooms dictate some of your furniture selections?
JH: As with any project, we chose pieces that would complement the home’s architecture. Many of the rooms in this home are larger and allow for those big, comfortable sofas, as well as other sizable pieces such as the armoires and the long dining table in the kitchen. The home also has tall ceilings, so to give the rooms a cozy feel we added beams that help to ground the look.
AHIA: The window treatments throughout the home are so eye-catching.
JH: You’ll notice that the valances and draperies in each room all have the same scalloped treatment, so they appear uniform from the street. However, the different patterns and textures in the fabric are tailored to each room’s look.
AHIA: Speaking of being uniform, the palette in the home feels very cohesive and light, yet there’s one room in the home that steps out.
JH: Yes, we reversed the color palette in the living room for a more dramatic and chic look. This room is really more of a night space; a place where ladies might gather during a party or the couple might entertain close friends and acquaintances. It’s meant to be a very smart, high style room. Since it’s slightly set apart from the rest of the home’s look, it creates a more distinguished presence for entertaining guests.
AHIA: On the flip side of being uniform, many of the furniture pairings in the home, for instance the cocktail tables in the living room, are not symmetrical. How did that play into the overall look and feel?
JH: It really goes back to the idea of creating rooms that are comfortable and invite the family to relax. Mixing different sizes and styles eliminates some of the formality. And the robust, high-quality furnishings and accessories help to balance this and bring the classic American style full circle.
Architect Ruby Architects, Inc., Little Rock
Builder Jack Hartsell Construction, Little Rock
Interior design James Michael Howard, Inc., Atlanta
Landscape design Tommy Triplett of Marianna Greenhouse, Marianna
Paint Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide
Sound system Sound Concepts, Jonesboro