Date: April 2, 2011 | Story: Interview by Diane Carroll | Styling: Diane Carroll |
At Home in Arkansas:
As the dynamic duo behind the specialty furniture retailer I.O. Metro—your husband, Jay, is the founder and chief executive officer, and you’re the creative director—do you feel like kids in a candy shop when you move into a new home?
Definitely. Our homes have always been our testing grounds for new items, experimenting with styles and seeing how well each piece works over time. We’ve been married almost five years, and in that time we’ve lived in nine homes, so we’ve had plenty of experience with the process.
AHIA: What spurred so many moves?
CH: It’s something that Jay and I enjoy, designing and evolving our style. Several of our homes have sold quickly, necessitating short-term moves, which was the case with our last one. We had planned to build a new home, but time-wise it made more sense for us to renovate. We purchased this house, which is in the same neighborhood as our previous home, undertook some cosmetic renovations and began enjoying it.
AHIA: This house, a two-story brick home next to the Pinnacle Country Club golf course, has decidedly traditional lines, whereas I.O. Metro is known for more contemporary styles. How did you meld the two?
CH: The main thing we focused on is that your home is a reflection of who you are. Rather than having the home dictate our style, we infused the traditional interior with clean-lined, softly modern pieces. Our travels also shape our style, and this house has more globally influenced, one-of-a-kind items. We want our home to reflect where we’ve been and the places we’ve seen.
AHIA: Where had you been and what had you seen when you began furnishing this home?
CH: Jay and I were traveling and working on the 1492 collection for the store, which includes global, artisan pieces. We saw people playing these oversized drums in India, and that resulted in the drum table that’s in the family room. Indonesian tree stumps ended up as the coffee table in the living room. When we travel, we think about the store always, but we also think, “is this something we would put in our own home, is it good quality, functional, durable?” We think of the personal level first, and if it fits that, then it’s a fit for the store too.
AHIA: How do you describe the resulting style of the interiors?
CH: Ultimately, I’d call it soft modern. Clean lines plus other influences, a neutral palette, modern and fresh but warm.
AHIA: You mentioned cosmetic renovations. How did you rehab the house?
CH: The house was only 10 years old, but it had a more country aesthetic, brass fixtures and so forth. Our goal was to enhance the architecture of the house and modernize it, making it feel more youthful. We painted the entire house, changed the light fixtures and updated both fireplaces. In the kitchen, we replaced the granite counters and slate tile backsplash with a lighter look, opting for stainless steel for the backsplash and the appliances. We also replaced a spindle staircase with a clean-lined ornamental iron one, which sets the tone from the minute you walk in the front door.
AHIA: You and Jay have always held charity events at your homes. Did large scale entertaining figure into your renovation?
CH: One of the elements we liked about this home from the beginning is that it has a good flow for entertaining. Having several different living areas that are easy to move between is important, and this house has a circular flow between the foyer, living, family, kitchen and dining spaces. It also has lots of windows, so even though you’re indoors, you feel like it’s a more expansive space. That basic flow didn’t need much modifying. The other strength for entertaining is that the living room has a series of doors leading outside, and we updated the landscaping and added seating. Jay and I have already hosted several charitable events here, and we can attest to how well the floor plan works, and what a comfortable setting this is for everyone.
Contractor/renovator Josh Porter Inc., Rogers
Landscape design DK Design, Fayetteville
Accessories, art, bedding, draperies, furnishings, lighting I.O. Metro, locations statewide
Carpet, flooring, stone fireplace, tile Tom January Floors, Inc., Fayetteville
Countertops New Century Countertops & Tile, Springdale
Paint Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide
Plumbing fixtures Ferguson, Springdale
Staircase Razorback Ironworks, Fayetteville
Welcoming Homes, Warm Hearts
Home-related causes and
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
When Jay Howard founded I.O. Metro, he and his wife, Christine, established the goal that the business would always give back to the community. Causes related to home became a natural fit, and the company has volunteered and donated the furniture for two home makeovers for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” provided the furniture for a Habitat for Humanity home and a showcase home benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure, created the Live United house benefiting United Way and hosted an event for the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter. The company supports the communities where their stores are located through a myriad of additional events, and in recent years, Christine has enhanced their efforts with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a way to give back to a larger audience.
“We wanted to continue with in-store events and donating to auctions, but as I.O. Metro continued to expand into new states, I felt we needed a corporate charity that had a direct effect on people in all communities,” says Christine. “It wasn’t difficult for me to decide which organization to support, as my life was forever changed when I lost a dear friend to leukemia. We wholeheartedly support St. Jude’s because their research findings are shared freely with doctors and scientists all over the world, and it is the only pediatric cancer research center where no child is ever denied treatment because of the family’s inability to pay.”
Last year, I.O. Metro was the presenting sponsor of the first NWA St. Jude Signature Bash, raising more than $32,000. This year, they’re again supporting the cause with the 2nd Annual St. Jude Signature Bash A $5,000 I.O. Metro room makeover will be auctioned and event tickets can be purchased at the company’s stores in Fayetteville and Rogers.
Friday, April 1
Pratt Place Barn, Fayetteville