Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Lauren Cerrato |
A Mountain Home couple trades grand for cozy in a new-construction home designed by their sister-in-law
Above: As with many entry spaces, the foyer sets the tone for this house: comfortable and classic yet interesting. Designer Jill Lawrence notes that a veined travertine tile is a “nice little showstopper” underfoot, while iron lanterns hang from the beadboard ceiling and echo the black seen on the interior mullions of the windows.
When you hear designer Jill Lawrence describe her sister- and brother-in-law—Judy and Dr. George Lawrence—and their children, you get an immediate impression of happiness and togetherness. “They move as a unit; they cheer each other on; and they really participate fully in each other’s lives, so there’s not a lot of time by themselves,” she says of the family of five. With that mind, the quintet wanted to be tucked into a house that, while still gracious in size, has a floor plan that makes each space feel like a casual, comfortable retreat; a place that invites shared dinners, conversations, and downtime.
To gain this sense of coziness and togetherness, a downsize was in order. “Their previous home was a much bigger house, and they realized it was just too much house,” Lawrence says. The designer explains it this way: “I think this is something that a lot of people go through. It’s kind of like having the big wedding, in that if you haven’t had the big wedding, you will always wonder about it. But once you’ve had the big wedding, you realize it’s not that big of a deal. The big house is the same way. When people start to become empty nesters—or even before then, as with this family—they are like, ‘Wow, this is a lot to keep up with, and we’re not here that much.’”
Knowing the family well, Jill drew a house plan she felt would accommodate them and their wishes. “They’ve really enjoyed this floor plan,” she says. “It’s basically all one level; however, there is a downstairs with two boys’ bedrooms and a kids’ lounge and kitchenette, so they can be messy and nobody needs to know,” she says with a laugh. The common spaces, master suite, and the Lawrences’ daughter’s bedroom are all on the main level. “This is their version of the simplified life and they love it,” Jill says. “They are warm, casual, friendly people, and I think this house is all of those things.”
To make the dining room sensible for everyday use, Jill employed chairs with slipcovers, which can be thrown in the wash and cleaned again and again. “They are workhorses,” she says. The designer also gave the couple the airy look they wanted by giving their dining room table a lighter, specialty in-house finish. “This house is much less serious [than their previous home] so we felt like it needed to be lightened up.”
A Twist on Traditional
Efficiency and storage were two must-haves in the kitchen design. “It has a good work triangle and doesn’t bottleneck when multiple people are in there,” Jill says of the flow. A large walk-in pantry (located behind the refrigerator) solved for storage, while pocket doors keep its contents, everything from dry goods to small appliances, neatly concealed. Aside from these considerations, Jill made sure the kitchen had a welcoming look, noting the craftsmanship and detail seen in the cabinetry. “The cabinets are truly phenomenal, and we painted them a slightly off shade of gray; it’s just slight so it’s a play on a traditional white kitchen.”
Deeper hues of the blue, green, and neutral-toned palette abound in Jill’s brother-in-law George’s study, which is also a favorite napping place for one of the couple’s sons. Enveloped in a deep blue gray, the room is arguably one of the coziest in the house. An equal mix of new finds and pieces the couple already owned comprise the room’s makeup. The ottoman was a piece that struggled to find a home following the move; however, Jill gave it new life with a spirited Ralph Lauren animal-print fabric and positioned it here where it provides extra seating and echoes the taxidermy pieces.
Take It Outside
The casual yet sophisticated feel of the home extends beyond its walls onto a covered patio, located just off the living room. “When you have a lot of windows facing your outdoor spaces, the interior and exterior need to blend and have like components because they all mesh together as one big space,” Jill says. “I always try to make sure that my outdoor accents go with the interior. They don’t have to completely match but you need to be able to look out there and recognize there’s a flow.”
Last But Not Least
When the family moved into the residence in 2015, Jill and her sister-in-law, Judy, came to a realization. “We had paid very close attention to every room, but for some reason, we did not do a whole lot about the master bedroom,” Jill says with a laugh. “We thought we could just bring it all over from the old house and have it work, and, of course, it just rarely works out like that.” Never one to leave a space unfinished, Jill remedied the situation with eye-catching botanical-print drapery panels set against a “fabulous grasscloth Thibaut wallpaper,” which she notes has a pewter sheen. They were able to use the bed from their previous home but added new nightstands, artwork, and accessories for an update. The artwork seen over the bed is a piece Judy had commissioned from Nashville artist Charlotte Terrell.
Interior design Jill Lawrence, J. Lawrence Design
Contractor Buddy Walker, Dream House Design & Construction
Accessories Cobblestone & Vine, J. Lawrence Design, and Roy Dudley Estate Sales
Appliances Shay’s Appliance
Art J. Lawrence Design and Matt Coburn Fine Art
Bedding, lighting, and wallpaper J. Lawrence Design
Cabinetry Scott Osmon, Osmon Cabinets
Carpet Village Carpet Shop
Countertops (kitchen) Inside Effects
Fabrics Designer Effects and J. Lawrence Design
Furniture Cobblestone & Vine and mertinsdykehome
Paint Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams
Rugs Hadidi Rug and Design Gallery and ProSource of Little Rock
Upholstery Howard’s Upholstery
Window coverings Angelthreads and Nancy Osborn