Date: October 28, 2014 | Story: Ashley Gill | Styling: Chip Jones and Mandy Keener |
Screaming Wings Lodge—the duck-season outpost of Witt Stephens Jr.—maximizes comfort and experience for guests and provides access to world-class waterfowl hunting
In 2008, longtime-client Witt Stephens Jr. charged interior designer Bill Beringer with the task of making of his imposing new hunting lodge a well-appointed, private retreat versatile enough to accommodate groups of all sizes and to foster a sense of intimacy and relaxation among visitors. From the outset, the owner had specific ideas about how the lodge would function and how it would look; “Ultimately,” Beringer says, “we wanted it to reflect him. He’s an avid hunter, but he’s also a businessman who needs an inviting place to entertain.”
“The neatest part is the structure itself,” Beringer says of the house, which is Stephens’s own vision realized by architect Tom Fennell. “All of the built elements that you see are structural—none of them are ornamental.” The impressive white pine beams and arches of the great room’s timber-frame construction bear the full weight of the building, leaving the interior space entirely free of obstruction or partition. This allows Stephens to bring all of his guests together in one space throughout the hunting season. The open-plan area is especially useful during the annual opening weekend festivities when Stephens typically entertains a crowd of 18 friends, family, and business associates.
Furnished To Scale
A room of such vast proportions posed a special challenge when it came to furnishing the space. “It’s a big room and we wanted lots of windows and lots of seating, but we still wanted it to feel cozy and intimate—not like a hotel lobby,” Beringer says. A custom, room-sized rug unifies five generous seating areas and encourages traffic flow throughout the activity zones, which include a wetbar and a gaming area in addition to traditional conversation spaces. The natural wood tones present in the room also help to visually warm and enrich the space. The ceiling is pine, and the walls are walnut hardwoods—the type typically used as flooring. “We didn’t want to do traditional paneling,” Beringer says, “because we didn’t want it to look quite so dressy.” Overall, the design works to make the room comfortable and pleasant by bringing it down to human scale, yet allowing visitors to delight in the impressive structure.
The décor of the lodge needed to be “rich and interesting,” according to Beringer, in order to keep a visitor’s eye excited and engaged; so, throughout the great room, “there’s a lot of interest everywhere you look,” he says. The fabrics Beringer selected vary in both pattern and content. Woven textiles, leathers, and wools all play a role, as do wildlife prints and two needlepoint pillows depicting deer, given to Stephens as a lodge-warming gift by his mother. Plaids of two different scales play-off one another to give the space a more acquired, less contrived, look.
In addition to the numerous wildlife specimens that adorn the walls—including a vacated hornet’s nest found on the property—diverse textures and surfaces add depth to the design. A few examples: the bar countertop is made of ceramic, copper-colored penny tiles; the sofas in the fireside seating area are upholstered in alpaca wool velvet; the ceiling in the dining area is glazed to create a leathery effect; and the custom-made dining table is walnut with a pecan inlay in a herringbone pattern. While you might expect to find rich woods and leathers like these in any stately hunting lodge, unique choices and surprising combinations create the sense that there’s no end of fascinating details to appreciate.
On the Mark
An enthusiastic outdoorsman, former commissioner of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, and now steward of the property at Screaming Wings, Beringer says that Stephens feels strongly that the representations of wildlife and natural settings present in the lodge be authentic to the region and to this piece of land in particular. The numerous taxidermic specimens of waterfowl and deer are all local to the immediate area, and even the bronze sculpture of ducks taking flight—commissioned for the stone chimney wall and affixed above the fireplace—needed to depict Screaming Wings’ flora and fauna with fastidious accuracy. Stephens’s remarkable collection of wildlife artwork is also showcased throughout the space, an ever-present reminder that the land—and the lodge—is a true sportsman’s paradise.
Architect, bath, and kitchen designTom Fennell, AIA, Fennell Purifoy Architects, Little Rock, (501) 372-6734, fennellpurifoy.com
Contractor Ernie Cline, Cline Construction Group, Little Rock, (501) 663-0265, clineconstructiongroup.com
Interior design Bill Beringer, Little Rock
Landscape design Zak Grothe, The Good Earth Garden Center, Little Rock, (501) 868-4666, thegoodearthgarden.com
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800, North Little Rock, (501) 758-1988, Springdale, (479) 750-2200, metroappliancesandmore.com
Bedding and window coverings Mountjoy’s Custom Draperies, Mabelvale, (501) 455-2216
Cabinets Distinctive Kitchens and Baths, Little Rock, (501) 666-7756, kitchensofarkansas.com
Carpet, flooring, and tile C&F Flooring and Rug Gallery, Little Rock, (501) 399-9909, candfcarpet.com
Countertops Arkansas Granite and More, Benton, (501) 315-4500, argrmore.com
Fabrics, furniture, hardware, lighting, and rugs Bill Beringer, Little Rock
Fireplace Joe Murdaugh Masonry, Inc., Sherwood, (501) 833-0891
Fixtures—kitchenFalk Plumbing, Hot Springs, (501) 321-1231, North Little Rock, (501) 664-3911, falksupply.com
Florals—dried Lamp Shades Etc. & The Accessory, Inc., Little Rock, (501) 664-5363, lampshadesandtheaccessory.com
Florals—fresh Tipton Hurst, Conway, (501) 329-6663, Little Rock, (501) 666-3333, North Little Rock, (501) 753-0709, tiptonhurst.com
MillworkBrown Millwork, Sheridan, (870) 942-5224, brownmillwork.com; Calion Lumber Company, Calion, (870) 748-2411
Outdoor furnishings Ken Rash’s, Little Rock, (501) 663-1818, kenrashsoutdoorfurniture.com
Paint Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide, sherwin-williams.com
Painting Roe Painting Company, Benton, (501) 847-4783
Windows Pella Windows & Doors, North Little Rock, (501) 758-5050, pella.com