On a countryside estate just outside of Little Rock, designer Barbi Rushing creates an heirloom-infused setting for the home and garden she shares with her husband
If antiques could talk, Barbi and Nolan Rushing’s home would have quite the story to tell. The moment you walk through the front door, you are greeted with a sampling of the home’s historic furnishings and elegant works of art, along with traditional fabrics and a soothing palette that seem to complement every piece. Continue to wind your way through the new construction home, which they refer to as Deer Lake, and you’ll soon figure out every piece is not only beautiful, but also meaningful.
Barbi, who owns Barbi Rushing Interiors, has curated the furnishings of each room of the home through the years. She inherited a number of her grandmother’s antiques including everything from furniture to artwork and accessories. “There is a lot of French heritage in my family. My grandmother’s maiden name was Gillette [which is of French origin] and she lived in a beautiful French home in the Heights,” relates Barbi. These much beloved pieces create the basis of the home’s style, which has a strong European influence.
Along with the time-treasured pieces handed down from family, Barbi effortlessly mixes in pieces she has found over time using her own artful eye. Elegant fabrics, wall coverings and fixtures complement the historic furniture and accessories to make it feel as though everything is of the period. As she walks through the home, there’s hardly a piece that doesn’t recall a trip abroad, a jaunt through a local antique shop or an instant love story, especially when it comes to art. When asked about her philosophy for decorating the home, Barbi laughs, “I have always loved antiques and beautiful pieces, and I believe all pretty things go together.”
Outdoors, the home is equally enchanting. The property’s lush green pastures are filled with miniature horses, Sebastopol geese and even a donkey, while colorful rosebuds seem to bloom from every crevice imaginable. This is the setting the couple has dreamed of inhabiting for years. “I grew up in the Heights, but I have always loved gardening and we had a longing to move outside the city,” says Barbi.
Much like the furnishings, the land they inhabit also has a storied past. “We bought this property in 2005 and learned it had been part of one family for more than 175 years,” says Barbi. Many of the family’s descendants still live nearby, and they along with beloved neighbors often pitch in to help with work on the farm, or drop in to share plant clippings and bulbs to add to the Rushings’ garden. The couple enjoys edible gardening as well. Nolan is an avid organic gardener and the pair has raised beds on the property filled with plantings of lettuce and vegetables. It is practices like these that infuse not only the Rushings’ home, but also their lifestyle with a sense of history and nostalgia.
Architect—main house Lewis Graeber III & Associates, Jackson, MS, (601) 366-3611
Architect—guest house Jack Arnold, Tulsa, OK, (918) 494-2730, jackarnold.com
Builder Jack Harstell, Jack Hartsell Construction, Little Rock, (501) 376-2871
Antiques Homeowner’s personal collection; Roy Dudley Estate Sales, Little Rock, (501) 666-5856, roydudleyestatesales.com
Cabinets Jack Hartsell Construction, Little Rock, (501) 376-2871
Countertops All Natural Stone, Little Rock, (501) 280-9777, all-natural-stone.com
Entry gate Crow’s Landing Creations, Mountain Home, (870) 431-4460, crowslandingcreations.com
Hardware PC Hardware, Little Rock, (501) 224-1724, pchdwe.com
Tile Elder Tile, Maumelle, (501) 758-4170, elderdistributing.com
Windows Pella Window & Door, Maumelle, (501) 758-5050, Springdale, (479) 750-2800, pella.com