A vibrant villa in central Arkansas gives its homeowners and their guests a taste of the good life in true Old World style
Little Rock-based interior designer Kim Brockinton shares how she created a European-inspired country home that lives up to its own grandeur yet maintains a welcoming sense of warmth. By layering refined and rustic elements and allowing the natural evolution of the property’s character to enhance its beauty, she has guided the homeowners to an ample and amiable home place that stands a world apart.
At Home in Arkansas: You’ve described the style of this home as French country, or provincial. What are the key characteristics of homes of that style, and where do we see them in this project?
Kim Brockinton: My first love is the European style of architecture—it can be formal or relaxed. And I have always been drawn to the countryside, whether it be Provence, Tuscany, or the Cotswolds in England. So this project was special—as if I were working in my own home. The home and property have all of the elements typically associated with the French country and provincial style: a soft color palette—in this case a sun-washed yellow hue, a multi-colored slate roof, rustic beams, and natural stone floors (especially the antique terra cotta inside the house), an array of outbuildings, and a lush landscape with both wild and planted flowers and vines.
What were the homeowners’ main requests and how did you satisfy them? What do they now enjoy most about their home?
The owners had a clear vision when they started. They love the outdoors, so plenty of space was the first order of the day. They also love the style of large European properties—particularly the multiple living spaces, indoor and out—so the architecture is consistent with their vision. It’s a spectacular Arkansas country estate. The outdoor living spaces are wonderful: the plastered pool is surrounded by native flagstone, and the covered cabana has pitched wooden beams. The unique terra cotta pieces atop the chimney are very consistent with what you would see in the Old World. I like to vary the sizes and shapes, to give the impression of an old home that has been added to through the years.
And in truth, the project has evolved over time as we have introduced the elements that were most important to them, including having many diverse settings for social gatherings. The couple shares a real passion for music, and the living room of the main house is used for that purpose—so it’s a real drawing card. They are also a family, so it was important to remember that, while the living spaces were elegant, they also had to be relaxed and inviting.
What patterns, colors, and textures drove your design choices?
We brought the soft, muted colors of the home’s exterior inside to create a warm and inviting backdrop. The interior walls of the main house are plastered in stone and flesh tones, and the floors range from flagstone and antique terra cotta tiles to parquet and reclaimed wood. This backdrop allowed us the freedom to use pattern and color liberally. We used variations of brown (chocolate and truffle), yellows and golds, terra cotta and brick reds, and Mediterranean blues. As for the fabrics and textures, there are cottons, chenilles, wools, and linens—all of which work beautifully together in various combinations of classic patterns from room to room.
How do you create a balance of contrasting elements in your designs—for instance, masculine/feminine, rough-hewn/refined?
The goal is always—and especially in this home—to create timeless and classic interiors worthy of the setting and architecture, and a lot of that work happens in finding an appropriate mix. For instance, I used pillows made with Cowtan & Tout wool on a sofa upholstered with Pierre Frey denim and combined aged gilt accessories with a farm table. Dressing it up to dress it down (or vice versa) is the way I usually think of it. Much of the work I do is for couples or families, so I am accustomed to using design elements that have both masculine and feminine characteristics. In the end, you want everyone in the family to feel as though it reflects their personality.
Contractor—general Fred Lord, Little Rock, (501) 821-1212
Contractor—kitchen Bentwood Luxury Kitchens, Lancaster, TX, (972) 227-6855,
Interior design Kim Brockinton, Kim Brockinton Interiors, Inc., Little Rock, (501) 661-7600
Landscape design Stacy Stafford, Stafford Fine Gardening, Little Rock, (501) 350-8039
Accessories, bedding, fabrics, lighting, furniture, and flooring Kim Brockinton Interiors, Inc., Little Rock, (501) 661-7600
Cabinets Duke Custom Cabinets, Roland, (501) 868-8111; Wood Unique, Inc., Mountain Pine,
Ironwork—railings Stuart Shields, Architectural Ironworks, Little Rock, (501) 455-9880
Outdoor furnishings Ken Rash’s of Arkansas, Little Rock, (501) 663-1818, kenrashsoutdoorfurniture.com; Kim Brockinton Interiors, Inc., Little Rock, (501) 661-7600
Paint Benjamin Moore, locations statewide, benjaminmoore.com
Pool Brooks Pool Company, Little Rock, (501) 771-1501, brookspools.com
Stonework—outdoor fireplace Bennett Brothers Stone, Hot Springs Village, (501) 984-5040, Little Rock, (501) 455-5040, bennettbrosstone.com