Date: October 22, 2009 | Story: Diane Carroll |
It was on a Sunday drive through downtown Fayetteville that Julie and Mike Roetzel realized, after 27 years of marriage, that they shared a secret interest in the same house. As they drove through the historic Washington-Willow neighborhood, Mike pointed to a particular yellow brick home and commented that it had always been his favorite house in town, a remark that resonated with a surprised Julie, who replied it was her favorite as well.
Serendipitously, friends who were driving with them had recently heard that the house was about to go on the market. It had been the childhood home of University of Arkansas Chancellor David Gearhart, and his family was considering selling—prompting the Roetzels to immediately decide they wanted to be the first prospective buyers to see it.
With their three daughters grown, the couple toyed with the thought of moving from their neighborhood of newer homes into a historic area. “We had some reservations about an older house,” says Julie, “but the moment I walked in the front door and saw the sunroom, with all its character and charm, I knew it could be my home.”
Soon, the house was theirs, and Julie, who has a background in interior design, began updating the circa-1930s residence. “It was in excellent condition, and we decided early on that we would respect the home’s history and simply bring some of the elements up to date,” she says. For most of the house, that meant removing carpets, refinishing wood floors and painting the walls. The kitchen required a more extensive renovation, and the Roetzels maintained the room’s arched doorways and architectural details while updating all the surfaces, cabinetry and appliances. To blend the refreshed room with the style of the rest of the house, Mike converted an antique hutch into a traditional island. “It looks like a piece of furniture instead of a new element,” adds Julie.
Within the updated spaces, Julie, a Little Rock native, began adding layers of traditional Southern style. Silk draperies with tasseled fringe top vintage windows, and are accompanied by curtains underneath in rooms where privacy is an issue. Aubusson rugs define seating areas and dress up the floors. And the antique furnishings that Julie has collected through the years are worked seamlessly into the home’s every room.
“That speaks to collecting things you love, and that you’ll always find a way to make them work,” says Julie. “We used nearly all the furnishings from our previous house, and to me they look better here than they ever have—the house complements them.”
To tie these elements together, she painted the rooms a warm cream color and used shades of gold, green and blue in the draperies, rugs and accessories as soft accents. In the sunroom, a favorite space that features three walls of windows, she reversed the concept, painting the walls a light blue, which she says “evokes the sky,” and outfitting the rest of the room in shades of cream.
“It’s one of our favorite rooms, because it’s always so cheerful,” says Julie, “but in truth we enjoy and use every room because the house was designed to flow so easily from one space to the next.” From the large dining room to the cozy living area and sunroom and on to the kitchen, Julie notes that it’s also an accommodating arrangement for entertaining. “That’s definitely a Southern thing,” she adds. “It’s a gracious home.”
Design consultation Donna Hanna Interior Design, Fayetteville
Landscape design Nancy Burris, Fayetteville
Appliances Metro Builders Supply, Springdale
Countertops, backsplash and flooring in kitchen Tom January Floors, Fayetteville
Furnishings and accessories French Metro, French Quarters, The Gift House Antiques, Sara Kathryn’s, all in Fayetteville; Lighting Emporium, Springdale
Rugs Abide Furniture and Interiors, Lighting Emporium, both in Springdale
Window treatments Sew Fine Custom Sewing, Siloam Springs
Window treatment in dining room Interior Fabrics & Design, Fayetteville
Wood floor refinishing Wood Floor Gallery, Springdale