Story: Jennifer Bonds | Styling: Chip Jones |
Little Rock designer Debi Davis uses a bevy of antiques and a restrained color palette to give her personal home a livable, comfortably chic air
If you know Debi Davis and her design work, you are well aware of her passion for storied pieces—and her own home is no exception. After purchasing the neoclassical house from fellow local designer Garry Mertins, Davis set out to put her own traditional spin on its already well-appointed bones. What’s more, she’s used the same thought process that drives Reborn Relics—her European-antique-inspired furnishings line—to adorn the rooms with history and character.
Review the Hues
When Davis first bought the home, “the front door was bright green, the dining room was orange Venetian plaster, and the kitchen was all black and white,” she recalls. In her four years in residence, she has personalized the home by bringing in her signature delicate color palette of creams, whites, and a coordinating barely blush pink. These hues are accented with gilt wood furnishings throughout the home. “I never want one piece—either a rug or piece of furniture or art—to be too heavy,” says Davis. “This way the eye keeps moving around the room.”
While a light palette may seem unlivable to some, Davis and her team at Debi Davis Interiors treat nearly every upholstery fabric they specify with a water- and stain-resistant product to ensure that it will withstand wear in a family home. “The tone-on-tone palette is a classic,” explains Davis. “I never overindulge in a trend, but instead I like to touch on it with art, pillows, or flowers—things that can be easily changed when the trend has passed.”
Reinterpret a Classic
It’s no surprise that many of the pieces in the home are from Davis’ own Reborn Relics line, which has evolved over time. A designer for more than 25 years, she says she “got tired of looking for just another mirror or piece of art and thought, ‘there has to be something else.’” Her passion for antiques drew her to heavily carved, artfully crafted fragments. Soon Davis began rescuing these castoff pieces at antique shows to use as wall groupings and art in clients’ homes. The idea stuck, and eventually she brought on carpenters to give the fragments new life as one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture, such as end tables and headboards.
While the pieces are decidedly old-world in feel (most are inspired by 17th- and 18th-century antiques), Davis deftly weaves them into the design of her home in a fresh and inspiring manner that makes them practical for modern-day use. For example, the sleek concrete hearth in the den—installed by the previous owner—is a study in modern design that contrasts nicely with the mantle in the master bedroom, which was fashioned from a pair of architectural fragments from Portugal.
The same ingenuity she employed to launch her line is evident in other one-of-a-kind pieces throughout the home that she has reinvented. Take, for instance, the found-marble top she married to an iron base—which she spotted under a tent at an antique fair in Texas—to create a breakfast table. Additionally, there are statues and iron fragments that have been fashioned into lamps, and an industrial can, once used to hold coal next to a fireplace, now serves as a vessel for flowers.
“Having antiques in your home no longer means living in a showplace from another era. I like to give a room a conversation piece, something to anchor it, but still keep it very livable,” says Davis, who shares the home with her husband, Mark Wilson, and their two dogs, Alley and Dalton.
To keep the design fresh, Davis added streamlined upholstery and a few unexpected statement pieces, such as an acrylic coffee table. Floor and table lamps fashioned from 17th-century altar candlesticks and topped with custom, pleated silk shades are works of art, but other accessories are minimal or blend with the room’s scheme, such as the vellum books and creamware vases on the built-in shelving in the den.
“A home can be really beautiful and livable at the same time,” says Davis, who enlists similar strategies when designing spaces for her clients. “The most important thing is to decorate with lifestyle in mind, and the result will be perfectly suited to actually enjoying your home.”
Contractor Keith Hardin, Keith Hardin Construction, Little Rock, (501) 580-8778, khcbuild.com
Interior design Debi Davis, Debi Davis Interior Design, Little Rock, (501) 221-2032, danddinteriordesign.com
Kitchen and bath design Garry Mertins, Garry Mertins Design, Little Rock, (501) 376-6600, garrymertinsdesign.com
Accessories Bear-Hill Interiors, Little Rock, (501) 907-9272, bearhillinteriors.com; Bonnie Blackmon Antiques, Little Rock, (501) 352-4704; Cobblestone & Vine, Little Rock, (501) 664-4249, West Little Rock, (501) 219-3676, cobblestoneandvine.com; Debi Davis Interior Design, Little Rock, (501) 221-2032, danddinteriordesign.com; Marshall Clements, Little Rock, (501) 663-1828, West Little Rock, (501) 954-7900, marshallclements.com; Providence Design, Little Rock, (501) 372-1886, providenceltddesign.com; Reborn Relics Home, Little Rock, (501) 221-2032, rebornrelicsdesign.com; The Antique Co., Little Rock, (501) 666-0339
Art Bonnie Blackmon Antiques, Little Rock, (501) 352-4704
Bedding—custom Barbara Kitchens, Little Rock, (501) 804-4071; Topsy Pelkey, North Little Rock, (501) 851-2909
Carpet C&F Flooring and Rug Gallery, Little Rock, (501) 399-9909, candfcarpet.com; Debi Davis Interior Davis, Little Rock, (501) 221-2032, danddinteriordesign.com
Fabrics, flooring, and wallpaper Debi Davis Interior Design, Little Rock, (501) 221-2032, danddinteriordesign.com
Fixtures—bath, hardware, and lighting Garry Mertins Design, Little Rock, (501) 376-6600, garrymertinsdesign.com
Floral design Tanarah Luxe Floral, Little Rock, (501) 327-1400, designsbytanarah.com