Date: May 23, 2012 | Story: Ronda Swaney | Styling: Diane Carroll |
There’s nothing fussy about Mara and Max Simmons. And there’s certainly nothing fussy about the home they’ve built along the Little Red River in Heber Springs. It’s a warm and welcoming reflection of who they are.
Directional signs out front list distances to far-flung places where the family has roots, including Mara’s native Mexico and their daughter-in-law’s hometown in Sweden. The signs, put up on the occasion of their daughter’s wedding, are only one indication of the wide-ranging mix of friends and family who have visited their home to rest and relax. They signify how very far away the riverfront retreat feels from the cares of city life.
At a modest 2,200 square feet, every inch of the home, both inside and out, is used wisely. At the heart of it is a spacious kitchen that opens to living and dining areas, all sited with views to the river. The couple’s previous house had a similar kitchen and great room combination, and they realized when company came over, that’s where everyone ended up. That knowledge inspired their new space: “When we built this house, we did away with formal areas, like the living room and library,” says Mara. “We wanted something that would be very relaxing and comfortable for family and friends.”
The same concept inspired the décor, with Mara opting for low-maintenance materials in the kitchen and sewing washable white cotton slipcovers for furnishings “so everyone can come in and put their feet up,” she says. “Between our children, grandchildren, cats and dogs, we needed something very easy to clean.”
In the kitchen, guests can sit along an enlarged island for meals or to help with food prep. The island’s oak cabinets are stained black with a distressed finish to hide wear and tear, while the perimeter cabinets are white, washed in a soft glaze. Both are topped by durable granite countertops and complemented with a tumbled travertine marble backsplash. The expansive storage of the double stainless steel refrigerator makes entertaining easy. Artisan accents add finishing details, including hand-blown pendant lights from Mexico and hand-forged iron knobs and pulls.
Under the lush canopy of trees next to the river, the temperature is typically cooler than the surrounding area, inviting Max, Mara and their guests to relax outside often. “I open up all the doors and use the deck outside as much as we use the inside,” says Mara. An upper-level deck and lower-level patio look out over the river, and provide plenty of seating for family and guests.
Inside and out, furnishings and decor are a mix of rustic and chic, substantial and delicate, well worn and well loved. “It’s just comfortable,” Mara sums up. “It’s not fussy, but it has flair, which makes it feel special.”
Architect Conley Fikes, AIA, Polk Stanley Wilcox, Little Rock, (501) 378-0878, polkstanleywilcox.com
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800; North Little Rock, (501) 758-1988; Springdale, (479) 750-2200; metroappliancesandmore.com
Cabinetry, lighting F.L. Davis Ace Home Center, Heber Springs, (501) 206-4223, fldavis.com
Countertops Red River Stone, Heber Springs, (870) 213-7652
Windows Pella Window and Door Showroom, North Little Rock, (501) 758-5050, pella.com