Date: September 21, 2009 | Story: Paulette Pearson |
When interior designer Kim Brockinton and her husband decided to build a home in Little Rock’s Heights neighborhood, she envisioned a space befitting of the villages she had visited on trips to the French countryside. “I wanted to make certain this house had a real sense of authenticity,” Brockinton explains, “as though it had been transported right from a small town in the Provence region of France.” She also wanted to have ample space to entertain large groups, including her two then-teenage children and their friends, while still maintaining a sense of charm. “Now that we’re empty nesters, it’s not overwhelming for two people,” she says. And while it’s comfortable for a dinner party of 10 or 12, the residence has just as easily accommodated large house parties of 100 people.
To invoke rural France within her own home, Brockinton enlisted New Orleans architect Davis Jahncke, who gave it the appearance of being modified and added onto over many generations. Brockinton also had the exterior’s stucco aged for a sun-bleached look, used distressed shutters, doors and windows, and installed copper gutters and a multi-colored slate roof, all characteristics of the structures she grew to love while traveling.
The living spaces are a reflection of the exterior, maintaining the timeworn European aura expected judging by the home’s outward appearance. “I used warm flesh tones throughout the house,” Brockinton says. “The colors melt from room to room in buckskin, terra cotta and muted mustard tones.” The dining room also features vaulted ceilings and a painted, glazed and waxed finish that gives the walls the look and feel of old stone, which was “an inspiration from a restaurant in the village of Les Baux de Provence,” Brockinton notes.
Hand-hewn wood beams span the ceiling in the den, where Brockinton had a precast floor-to-ceiling fireplace built to replicate an original limestone one from Normandy. “We painted and stripped it multiple times and finished it with a heavy wax,” she explains. “Only a discerning eye would know it isn’t old.”
The adjoining kitchen is modern and functional with a rustic French aesthetic. Cabinets appear to be separate pieces of furniture with wood aprons and graceful feet, including a hand-carved wood island. A custom-made hood with copper and zinc accents, a hand-painted stone backsplash and limestone countertops underscore the authentic quality of the space.
The Château Haut-Brion wine estate in Bordeaux inspired the wine cellar, complete with stucco walls and a hand-painted mural of the winery. Brockinton adds, “We also created a map of France on cork denoting the wine regions and the towns in which they are located.” The cellar’s antiques include a late-1800s vaisselier found in Bordeaux, a French farm table and a candle-burning chandelier, while antique brick covers the floors. Elsewhere in the home, the main living spaces contain wood floors scraped and stained for age, and the foyer is lined with terra cotta tiles salvaged from a barn in France.
Antique furniture in the style of Louis XVI dominates the master bedroom, including a large armoire and bed. Carpet by Stark and lush fabrics on the bed and windows warm up the space. Finishing touches include antique dore and bronze lamps and accessories, as well as an antique bronze chandelier with Baccarat crystal.
“This home underscores my real passion of timeless, classic, warm, romantic and intimate design,” Brockinton explains. “It’s one of the reasons people love to go to Provence, not to see what is new but rather to relive the magic of their first experience there. It’s comforting to know it will be just as you remembered it.”
Interior Design Kim Brockinton, Kim Brockinton Interiors, Inc., Little Rock
Architect Davis Jahncke, Jahncke & Burns Architects, New Orleans
Contractor Jack Hartsell, Jack Hartsell Construction, Little Rock
Custom shades The Shade Above, Searcy
European gardens, floral Interior Gardening, North Little Rock
Interiors Blackmon Antiques, Cabbage Rose Antiques, Ellen Golden French Antiques, Pflugrad’s Antiques, Sabb’s Antique Rugs, The Antique Co., Trianon Antiques, all in Little Rock
Silk florals Tipton Hurst, Little Rock