Story: Elaine Slayton Akin | Styling: Mandy Keener |
In Little Rock, a new construction home honors the European architectural integrity and simplistic lifestyle of the old world, while incorporating eco-friendly elements
Some might think that a believable faux finish or the highest quality crown molding is going the extra mile in home design authenticity; if so, they would not be the owners of the arguably most true-to-period, French country-style abode in Little Rock’s Chenal Valley. A fondness of both the European residential aesthetic and a no-nonsense lifestyle led this couple to seek out experts with a similar style and approach when it came to implementing their home’s plan, its construction and the design of the interiors.
Starting with T. Douglas Enoch, a popular Memphis architect known for his Old World-inspired designs, the homeowners assembled a team who shared their passion and would remain true to their plan’s European-inspired aesthetic principles as well as the historical accuracy. And while they may have traveled across the Mississippi River to secure Enoch, the remaining three members of the team were just a stone’s throw away in their own city of Little Rock. Contractor Bill Parkinson of Parkinson Building Group and designers Mona Thompson and Talena Ray, who co-own Providence Design, were the missing pieces and driving force behind what Thompson calls the “decorated, but undecorated look,” the homeowners wanted to achieve.
Adhering to the couple’s fondness for period-style architecture and furnishings, the home’s plan calls to mind late 17th-century France, when the king and his courtiers moved the palace out of the city of Paris and into a more natural setting, thus pastoral inspiration became common for many homes built during that time. While achieving true-to-period exactness in the 21st century is next to impossible (because, let’s be real—no one’s going to say “no” to air conditioning in Arkansas), the homeowners made every effort along the way to honor the rustic, Old World look, while still keeping it comfortable and eco-friendly.
For example, most homeowners opt for crown molding and baseboards to formalize their more trafficked rooms simply because it’s conventional. Not this think-outside-the-box duo. Using the basic materials of stone and plaster, the homeowners requested Parkinson construct the home’s support walls sans traditional accents, with only the occasional bullnose to round off sharp edges and tie in the hardwood floors. Similarly, when the couple was asked to agree on kitchen furnishings, both husband and wife chose to bypass a faux-finished copper range hood for an actual copper version, and chose a more simplistic white marble countertop over a fabricated option. “They literally verbalized, ‘We want to get this done, and done right,’” Thompson says of the couple’s initial response to tackling the home’s interior design. “A family whose identity is wrapped up in a house—that’s not them.” Thompson took their approach to mean that her clients wanted to stress less over “the little things,” and instead make smart big-picture choices based on their family’s needs and style.
A working mother, Thompson’s client enjoys cooking, traveling and entertaining friends, but also tag teams with her husband to homeschool their children. “While a busy lifestyle sometimes calls them away from home, it’s really important for my client that her family members feel at home when they are at home,” says Thompson. That’s why the two collaborated to find warm, welcoming colors in fabrics, tiles and light fixtures that would draw guests into the home.
With the home’s European country-style structure in mind, rustic, time-honored décor was almost a no-brainer, and reasonably effortless, considering Providence Design specializes in antiques. Benjamin Moore’s Ballet White runs as the palette’s base tone throughout the home, dotted by blue-gray Kentucky Haze accents. This color combo is prominent in the great room, which also features an impressive mixture of natural materials, including exposed wooden beams, an understated wrought iron chandelier, tightly-woven, high-grade burlap drapery panels and an all-wool, handmade rug.
Other rooms also successfully mix comfortable livability with a refined rustic aesthetic. The master bedroom features a four-poster bed with an antique finish and luxurious, but washable Bella Notte linens. In the den, an easy-care, textured jute rug is placed alongside an ottoman upholstered in a traditional pattern.
When it came to the home’s inner workings, Parkinson worked closely with the man of the house, who is a green-living aficionado, to include a wide array of eco-friendly features. Many of the bullet points on the check list, including insulated concrete forms, geothermal HVAC, foam insulation and LED lighting, were part of the home’s base. Other features, including a rainwater collection system, a greenhouse for vegetable gardening and a system to monitor energy usage were also helpful additions to make the home adhere to the owner’s responsible lifestyle.
“How does it feel to live there? That’s as important as how it looks,” admits Thompson, who along with Enoch and Parkinson helped to make the home as comfortable as it is unique. “It’s so refreshing to work with clients who aren’t caught up in what others are doing; they know what they want and what works best for them,” Thompson confesses. “The casual simplicity of this home is an honest reflection of its inhabitants, its designers and the time period it revives.”
Architect T. Douglas Enoch Architects & Associates, Memphis, (901) 685-7636, dougenoch.com
Contractor Bill Parkinson, Parkinson Building Group, Little Rock, (501) 954-9700, parkinsonbuildinggroup.com
Interior design Talena Ray and Mona Thompson, Providence Design, Little Rock, (501) 952-1456, providenceltddesign.com
Landscape design Doug Schneider, Schneider Lawn and Landscape, Little Rock, (501) 821-9929, schneiderlandscape.com
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800, North Little Rock, (501) 758-1988, Springdale (479) 750-2200, metroappliancesandmore.com
Cabinets Duke Custom Cabinets, Roland, (501) 868-8111, dukecustomcabinets.com
Carpet ProSource Flooring, North Little Rock, (501) 758-0801, prosourcefloors.com
Countertops Acme Brick, Tile & Stone, Fort Smith, (479) 782-7974, North Little Rock, (501) 812-5574, Russellville, (479) 968-6900, acmebricktileandstone.com
Fireplace Antique Brick Outdoors, Little Rock, (501) 375-0060, antiquebrickoutdoors.com
Flooring Acme Brick, Tile & Stone, Fort Smith, (479) 782-7974, North Little Rock, (501) 812-5574, Russellville, (479) 968-6900, acmebricktileandstone.com; Champion Wood Floor Design, North Little Rock, (501) 217-9131; Elder Distributing, North Little Rock, (501) 758-4170, elderdistributing.com
Fresh floral Tipton Hurst, Conway, (501) 329-6663, Little Rock, (501) 666-3333, North Little Rock, (501) 753-0709, tiptonhurst.com
Furniture Cantrell Furniture Design Center, Little Rock, (501) 225-0002, cantrellfurniture.com; Cobblestone & Vine, Little Rock, (501) 664-4249, West Little Rock, (501) 219-3676, cobblestoneandvine.com; Ellen Golden Antiques, Little Rock, (501) 664-7746; Phoenix Interiors, Little Rock, (501) 225-0400, phoenixinteriors.webs.com; Providence Design, Little Rock, (501) 952-1456, providenceltddesign.com
Lighting Light Innovations, Little Rock, (501) 223-9026, light-innovations.com; Providence Design, Little Rock, (501) 952-1456, providenceltddesign.com; TEC Electric, North Little Rock, (501) 758-5483, tecelectric.com
Mirrors Binswanger Glass, locations statewide, binswangerglass.com
Pool Elite Pools by Scott, Little Rock, (501) 448-2053, elitepoolsbyscott.com
Tile—backsplash Elder Distributing, North Little Rock, (501) 758-4170, elderdistributing.com
Upholstery Howard’s Upholstery, Little Rock, (501) 225-0476
Windows Lumber One Home Center, Mayflower, (501) 470-1122, Stuttgart, (870) 673-3601, lumberonehomecenter.com
Window coverings Mountjoy’s Custom Draperies, Mabelvale, (501) 455-2216