Story: Ashley Gill | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Chip Jones |
The joy of cooking is a family matter in this Little Rock kitchen
When a Little Rock couple approached Chris Milligan about building a new house inspired by the American vernacular style of architecture with lots of natural light and a “happy feel,” he knew that the open-concept kitchen and living space would be the hub of the home. The homeowner knew she wanted her kitchen to be three things—classic, seamless, and delightful, so she and Milligan worked very closely together to achieve her vision.
The kitchen has a very traditional look, with unmistakable Southern influences. “The draw of that design style goes back to my childhood, when my grandmother and I traveled to her home state of Mississippi. She grew up near Natchez, and we toured many historical homes there when we visited. The architectural details—all swirled in with the happy memories of us together in Mississippi—must have stuck with me, because I knew exactly what I wanted in a home,” the homeowner says. The timeless character of her new kitchen is expressed through an elegant, coffered ceiling, inset cabinetry with Shaker-style doors, and natural wood flooring. Milligan notes that perhaps the most traditional element of the kitchen is the color palette: “You can go into houses built a hundred years ago and see almost exactly the same kitchen. White never goes out of style; it’s crisp and clean, bright and open.”
The Carrera marble countertops are another striking and truly timeless feature of the kitchen. “I love the marble and am very happy with the choice we made. We certainly debated the pros and cons of marble, granite, and quartz. Then, one hot day, we stopped for ice cream at an historical building in downtown Little Rock. We bellied up to the bar in the old building and noticed the marble countertops that were worn, but still quite beautiful. That sealed the deal for me. I thought the marble still looked great and classic after decades of wear,” she says.
Milligan knew the homeowner also had her heart set on a streamlined look and enhanced day-to-day functionality. To eliminate the visual clutter in a room that sees so much ongoing activity, the solutions had to be built-in: they chose paneled-front appliances and installed easy-access cabinetry designed to house small appliances and frequently used kitchen tools. “Especially in an all-white kitchen,” the homeowner says, “I like the clean look of appliances hidden or blended into the overall look.”
The kitchen’s pantry is inventively customized with dual access: it opens into the kitchen and out to an exterior, garage-adjacent loading space, or pantry room, where items can be easily stocked directly into the pantry from a vehicle. “The original plans called for an art wall where the pantry cabinet is now,” the homeowner remembers, “but I thought it would be so nice if I could just reach through this ‘art wall’ and grab things as I’m cooking. After chatting with Chris, the dual-opening pantry concept evolved into what it is now. Not only does it store our food, it also houses our coffeemaker, toaster, and microwave, which I love.”
A number of more whimsical elements in the kitchen reflect the fun and dynamic spirit of the young family. For example, the aforementioned pantry opening is crafted to look like a freestanding piece of furniture. This piece of cabinetry is painted turquoise, and the cabinet doors and hardware—crystal egg knobs, by Emtek—are a different style than what is seen in the rest of the kitchen. “My husband loves the pop of color, because he is not keen on all white everywhere,” the homeowner says. And, on one wall in the wetbar, the backsplash is lined with antiqued mirrors for a fresh feel.
The delight of this kitchen is not exclusively visual—or even culinary, as the homeowner explains: “A designated baking area was at the top of my list, because my kids enjoy baking. I imagined a lot of birthday cakes, Thanksgiving pies, and special memories being made here. I wanted a functional space where the kids can reach the flour, measuring cups, et cetera, because I want the kids to feel independent in the space while they are creating their masterpieces.”
Special thanks to Cupcakes on Kavanaugh for providing confections for this photo shoot. Cupcakes on Kavanaugh, Little Rock, (501) 664-2253, Cupcakes at Turtle Creek, Jonesboro, (870) 275-7748, eatacupcake.com
Contractor, interior design and kitchen design Chris Milligan, Dwellings Inc., Little Rock, (501) 831-0729, dwellings-ar.com
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800, North Little Rock, (501) 758-1988, Springdale, (479) 750-2200, metroappliancesandmore.com
Cabinetry Dwellings Inc., Little Rock, (501) 831-0729, dwellings-ar.com
Countertops Casa Blanca Granite, Marble & Tile, Inc., Little Rock, (501) 744-0387, casablancagranite.com
Florals Tipton & Hurst, locations throughout Central Arkansas, (501) 666-3333, tiptonhurst.com
Millwork and windows Lumber One Home Center, Mayflower, (501) 470-1122, Stuttgart, (870) 673-3601, lumberonehomecenter.com
Mirrors West Little Rock Glass, Little Rock, (501) 223-3034, westlittlerockglass.net
Paint Benjamin Moore, locations statewide, benjaminmoore.com
Painting Daniel Canseco Painting, Little Rock, (501) 247-0372
Painting—decorative White Goat, Conway, (501) 504-6643, Little Rock, (501) 603-9460, whitegoatstyle.com
Tile ProSource, Little Rock, (501) 791-9928, prosourcewholesale.com