When It Came to Building a Dream Home, the Fourth Time Was a Charm for a Hot Springs Couple
Sometimes you have to try something more than once before you get it just right. In Sara Barnett’s case, it took building four houses before she finally felt at home. “This time, I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like,” she says of her lakefront Hot Springs home. Barnett took her vision to architect David French—a friend from college with whom she had worked on a previous project—and he brought it to life. “The first set of plans was perfect; he captured exactly what I wanted,” she recalls.
What she wanted was a sleek, contemporary home that took full advantage of the property’s expansive views of Lake Hamilton and the Ouachita National Forest beyond. Steel windows, rough-cut limestone quarried in Texas and bamboo accents give the home a decidedly modern, yet natural feel.
“About halfway through the project, I started to have second thoughts, like I had gone too far,” she says. “I didn’t want it to look like an office building sitting on the lake.” But she persevered with the plan and trusted French’s ability to execute a warm, modern home for Barnett, her husband Robert and their combined six adult children, who visit frequently.
The top-level entrance to the home feels like a contemporary interpretation of a sprawling ranch home. Once inside, you are immediately met with spectacular views of the lake filtered through the pine trees. The staircase in the multi-level foyer features custom wrought-iron railing—which can be found throughout the home—combined with a unique light fixture made of glass orbs that seem to drift independently from the ceiling to the bottom level.
The main-level living area is divided into two spaces separated by a bamboo wall which wraps around the ceiling on both sides. On the left, the more formal living space is anchored by a contemporary chocolate-colored sectional next to a limestone wall that features a linear fireplace lit by small ceramic fire balls. A cast stone mantelpiece tops the fireplace setting.
The living area shares space with a sleek dining table, where the couple often entertains. The fixture over the dining table is a scaled-down version of the foyer light. Thanks to the room’s southern exposure natural light is abundant year-round.
On the other side of the bamboo dividing wall, things are slightly more casual. “This is a lake house, after all,” says Barnett. “We wanted it to relate to the setting. There is nothing too precious for wet dogs or bathing suits; it’s all very durable.” That livability starts from the ground up, where Barnett chose to install Italian porcelain tile instead of hardwoods or carpet. The tile’s varying widths and lengths lend a laid-back feel.
In a similar style, the well-equipped kitchen is outfitted with custom bamboo cabinetry and opens to a sitting area and breakfast nook. A built-in plasma-screen television on one side and wood-burning fireplace on the other set the tone for the more relaxed family space.
Throughout the home, furnishings are kept simple—there are certainly no oversized lamp shades or fussy window treatments blocking the view. “I have finally learned to do what I like, not what is expected,” Barnett says of the sparse decoration. “In this house, I didn’t worry so much about the design, I just let the fabulous architecture and the view speak for themselves.”
The master bedroom’s en suite bath certainly takes full advantage of both the property’s views and privacy, as a freestanding tub floats in front of a picture window. French designed the room’s floating vanities and topped them with Caesarstone. Around the corner a luxurious teak-floored steam shower adds to the home’s nature-inspired décor.
Just outside, the main-level terrace is equipped for four-season entertaining with built-in seating, a linear fireplace and a mini-bar. Below, a black-bottom salt-water pool with an infinity edge runs along the home’s exterior. The pool deck opens to a downstairs sitting room and a collection of bedrooms where the couple’s children stay—and bring plenty of guests—when they visit.
At the water’s edge, a boardwalk runs the length of the property, allowing access to the lake. Despite this convenient feature, so far, the couple has done more gazing at the lake than swimming or boating. “The last house was supposed to be my last project,” says Barnett. But the property’s spectacular views convinced her to give building her dream home just one more shot.
Architect David French, French Architects, Hot Springs, (501) 623-6604, frencharchitects.net
Contractor Billy Ward, Billy Ward Construction, Hot Springs, (501) 767-5300
Landscape design Liz Fraiser, LA Design Company, Hot Springs, (501) 620-4202
Pool design Craig Phillips, Rio Pools, Hot Springs, (501) 623-2410, riopools.net
Bedding Massimo, Little Rock, (501) 664-0355, massimointeriordesign.com
Cabinets Billy Ward Construction, Hot Springs, (501) 767-5300
Countertops and outdoor granite Consolidated Marble, Hot Springs, (501) 623-7809, consolidatedmarble.com
Fixtures Sanders Plumbing Supply, Hot Springs, (501) 525-2420, sandersplumbingandlighting.com
Freestanding bathtub Southern Pipe & Supply, Benton, (501) 778-3200, southernpipe.com
Fresh floral Tipton Hurst, Conway, (501) 329-6663, Little Rock, (501) 666-3333, North Little Rock, (501) 753-0709, tiptonhurst.com
Furniture Massimo, Little Rock, (501) 664-0355; Mertinsdyke Home, Little Rock, (501) 280-3200, mertinsdykehome.com
Geothermal heating and cooling system Affordable Heat & Air, Hot Springs, (501) 662-0139
Millwork and mirrors Pro Millwork, Hot Springs, (501) 623-8100
Railing Aluminum Arts, Hot Springs, (501) 767-2600
Roofing Roberts-McNutt, North Little Rock, (501) 945-0151, robertsmcnutt.com
Security and sound systems Digital Entertainment Systems, Little Rock, (501) 367-8123, Rogers, (479) 621-8889, digitalentertain.com
Tile Peter’s Paint, Hot Springs, (501) 623-1800, petersflooringandpaint.com
Windows Ace Glass, Little Rock, (501) 372-0595, aceglass.net
Window coverings Pro Millwork, Hot Springs, (501) 623-8100