Date: December 30, 2019 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Lauren Cerrato |
Comfort and authenticity abound in a west Little Rock family home
“This is the culmination of about six years of house plans,” says interior designer Jill Lawrence. She worked with her clients, who also happen to be dear friends, every step of the way. “We were neighbors and became best friends,” explains one of the homeowners. “When our kids were little, especially on snow days, we would work on house plans. We would go over to visit, and Jill would draw the plans.”
With ideas in mind, they brought in Ellen Yeary and Jim Yeary of Yeary Lindsey Architects to perfect the plan, thinking through scale and details in every space. For them, the idea was not to build their version of a Colonial Revival home but rather to build the house as it would have been in the style’s heyday. “The whole mantra was, What is authentic?” Jill notes. “What Jill and I both felt and what the Yearys were able to bring to it, too, is that whatever style the home was, we wanted to be true to it. Particularly with the architecture, whether it was the baseboards or the mantel height,” the owner says. “It was a very time consuming process before we ever even got into the pretty stuff,” she adds with a laugh.
Several features play key roles in achieving this authenticity. For example, the floor plan has defined rooms rather than one large open space, which has become common in many of today’s new-construction homes. Similarly, the décor doesn’t align itself too closely with any current vibe or design selection. “I think the thing I love so much about this house is that there’s not one single trend. It’s going to feel very current in 10 years,” Jill says. To this point, numerous pieces from the owners’ previous home, family heirlooms, and finds from local estate sales give the house a curated appeal and evoke stories at every stopping point.
Next to authenticity, comfort was key for the family of six. “We want this house to be as lived in as possible. There’s no room that’s off limits—no place you can’t put your feet up,” the owner says. For example, in lieu of a formal dining room, the kitchen has an adjoining space with a table large enough to comfortably seat the family and guests when it is fully extended. A fireplace near the table brings in an element authentic to the period, while slipcovered hostess chairs and vinyl-coated benches make it practical for everyday use. Jill notes everyone always ends up gathering in the kitchen anyway, so this space closes the gap between the two rooms. “Sometimes, I feel like when you get into a larger home it can lose some of that warmth, and we really tried hard to make it where everyone is comfortable in every room,” the owner adds.
The home’s only dining space sits adjacent to the kitchen. “They didn’t want a formal dining room, so there are leaves for this table when there’s a crowd but it’s also their everyday eating area,” Jill notes. The piece hanging over the fireplace was a find Jill and the owner brought back from a trip through the Texas Hill Country.
Jill notes the kitchen flow is very functional when cooking for the family or hosting a gathering. “When we have guests we often do everything buffet style, so the island is perfect for serving, too,” the owner says. A custom walnut countertop echoes the wooden floors, while the vintage-style range and pendants have a timeless appeal.
One Room, Two Spaces
In the living room, two conversation areas feature seating for the family as well as plenty of room for their guests, allowing them all to be together whether playing games, listening to music, or reading. Wingback chairs and a coffee table with a hint of Asian influence (“I think every home needs to have a smidge of Asian design,” Jill notes) define the area near the fireplace. Opposite, a sectional and sculptural bronze coffee table give a slightly more contemporary air to the second conversation area. “This table is a little more modern,” Jill says. “It’s a little element that keeps the design fresh, but it’s really never going to go out of style because it’s well done.”
A library located in between the master suite and the living room is what Jill refers to as the family’s “cozy place.” “Her husband is an avid reader of everything so these books are not for decoration; it’s a working library,” the designer adds. A custom wooden rolling ladder means no page goes unturned in the built-ins, while a fabric wall behind the sofa helps absorb sound in a room filled with hard-surface shelving. Family photos and treasured mementos dot the cubbies among the tomes.
“The master bedroom has five windows so it gets amazing light,” Jill says, “which is really funny because they like it pitch black when they sleep.” To get the best of both worlds, the designer selected heavy blackout drapes that pull closed easily at the day’s end. A mix of collected-over-time and new wooden furniture, including the bed, complement the neutral and blue bedding.
A Modern Comfort
“This room feels really warm and not at all clinical,” Jill says. “To me, it feels like a room that has been retrofitted into a bathroom—which stays true to that mantra of authenticity because a large bathroom wouldn’t have been here in the time period of this house.” Features such as the wood flooring and rug, grasscloth wallpaper, and curtains add to the cozy look; however, the pièce de résistance is an antique door the owner and Jill found at an architectural salvage shop in Harlem and used at the shower’s entrance.
Architect Ellen Yeary and Jim Yeary, Yeary Lindsey Architects Contractor Bill Parkinson, Parkinson Building Group Interior design Jill Lawrence and Lindsey Forshee, J. Lawrence Design Accessories Cobblestone & Vine, Dillard’s, J. Lawrence Design, Phoenix Interiors, Roy Dudley Estate Sales, and Tipton & Hurst Art Cantrell Gallery, Cobblestone & Vine, and Roy Dudley Estate Sales Appliances Metro Appliances & More Bedding Dillard’s Cabinetry, countertop (kitchen island), and hardware Duke Custom Cabinetry Countertops and tile Inside Effects Fabrics and wallpaper Designer Effects and J. Lawrence Design Fireplace mantels and millwork Tony Carmack Fireplace inserts Antique Brick & Block Fireplace surround, flooring, and painting Parkinson Building Group Fixtures Westlake Plumbing Florals Tipton & Hurst Framing Cantrell Gallery Furniture Dillard’s, J. Lawrence Design, mertinsdyke home, and Roy Dudley Estate Sales Ironwork Iron World Design Lighting J. Lawrence Design Mirrors and glass Ace Glass Pillows Angela Moore, Angel Threads Rugs Hadidi Rug and Design Gallery and ProSource of Little Rock Rugs (binding and installation) Clint and Craig Chandler Upholstery Brockington Upholstery Wallpaper (installation) Glenn Goff Windows Lumber One Home Center Window coverings Designer Supply, Nancy Osborne, and Window Works