At Home in Arkansas:
Your home manages to blur several design lines that can be challenging: it’s historic, yet feels fresh and livable, and it’s elegant while still feeling comfortable.
How did you strike that balance?
We definitely tried to balance maintaining the architectural integrity of the house while modifying it to fit our family. Paying attention to scale and not creating oversized rooms helped. Our designer, Bill Beringer, worked on making sure the colors we used—the yellows, pinks and fresh greens to which I’ve always gravitated—are shades that are inviting and warm. We kept the design simple too, with continuous color and draperies that are pretty without being frilly.
AHIA: Tell us about the history of the house and your family’s decision to make it your own.
LS: We were relocating back to Little Rock and we loved this home’s Georgian style. It hadn’t been extensively renovated, so the originality of the house was intact and we could see that it was a special place. It was one of the first homes built in this part of the Heights neighborhood, dating to the early 1930s, and was built by architect George H. Wittenberg for his own family. We contacted his grandson, architect George H. Wittenberg, III, and he worked with us on how to sensitively renovate it without significantly changing the architecture.
AHIA: What were your priorities for the renovation?
LS: The main priority was making sure we had a good plan in place before we changed things. We lived here for seven years before we began, seeing how it fit our family. We had two young sons when we purchased the house, and when our third son was born, we knew we’d need more space. The kitchen was very small and with three young children we needed a more multi-functional area. The kitchen and family room were closed off from each other as well, and having a better flow between the areas where we spent a majority of our time became a priority.
AHIA: It seems you were able to add space without significantly changing the exterior appearance.
LS: Several parts of the house were one story, and we were able to build on above them to add more bedroom and bathroom space. We moved a wall in the family room and another in the kitchen out five feet to the side, and that gave us just enough space for more functional rooms without changing the symmetrical appearance of the exterior. That allowed us to enlarge the kitchen and include an island with an eating area, plus a breakfast room. We also added an opening directly to the family room and improved the flow between those spaces. The biggest change was a two-story addition of a garage with a game room and guest quarters above, which we were able to tuck along the side of the house so that it doesn’t drastically alter the façade.
AHIA: You’ve incorporated materials in your renovation, such as marble countertops and tile, which work well with the architectural style of your home. What inspired your design ideas?
LS: Our design team was integral in that, including Ward Lile and Pasha Bass. Ward consulted with us on style points of the Georgian architecture, and how to make the main house appear to have more weight than the garage addition. Pasha Bass worked on the bathroom and kitchen spaces and drew out the renovation details. Plus, I spent years looking at magazines, reading books on kitchen design and seeing other renovations. Also, the house still had many of the original materials, and we loved the white subway tile and hexagonal tile floors in the bathrooms and wanted to maintain that clean look.
AHIA: In contrast to the white kitchen and baths, your living spaces are full of color. How did they evolve?
LS: We had originally chosen some drapery fabrics when we purchased the house, and then it was a process of selecting colors, fabrics and furnishings over time that complemented each other. Bill called it finding the thread that ties everything together, and he suggested paint colors that were instrumental in doing so. One unexpected benefit is that you can pull a chair from one room and it looks good in another. The rooms are cheerful, and I do think there is an overall feeling of happiness when surrounded by color.
Architect George H. Wittenberg, III, Little Rock
Architectural design consultant Ward Lile, P. Allen Smith & Associates, Little Rock
Builder/contractor Rick Thomasson, Little Rock
Interior architecture consultant; kitchen/bath designer Pasha Bass Inc., Little Rock
Interior design Bill Beringer, Little Rock
Landscaping P. Allen Smith & Associates, Little Rock
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, locations statewide
Bedding Yves DeLorme, Little Rock
Cabinetry Greenfield Millworks, North Little Rock
Countertop, tile consultation/installation Leslie Tetrev, Inside Effects, Little Rock
Furnishings Dauphine, Trianon & Blackmon Antiques, Little Rock
Lighting TEC Electric, North Little Rock
Paint Benjamin Moore, locations statewide
Rugs/carpet C&F Flooring and Rug Gallery, Little Rock
Vanity-master bath Lumber One, Mayflower, Stuttgart
Window treatments Mountjoy’s Custom Draperies, Mabelvale