At Home in Arkansas: You worked with Deana and Bobby Taylor before, when you redesigned their master bathroom a few years ago. What did they have in mind this time?
Designer Meridith Hamilton: While working on the master bathroom, Deana walked me through these rooms and said she’d like to eventually collaborate on redoing them. She wanted me to open up the rooms and make better use of the space, similar to what we did in her bathroom area, and provide a kitchen, living and dining space with a more modern and clean-lined look.
How did you begin formulating a plan?
The Taylors wanted open spaces better suited to entertaining—they have a teenage son and enjoy having family and friends over. That was easily achieved by removing the wall between the kitchen and the living room and the wall between the living and dining rooms. The kitchen was fairly small, so we pushed out the back wall and extended the room an additional 450 square feet. The architects at Yeary Lindsey, contractor Mike Sanders and I all worked closely together, and they ensured that the structure had enough support to achieve this openess.
Aesthetically, I remembered Deana’s tastes from working on her bathroom. For this space, I found the tile backsplash for the kitchen and pulled everything from that. The tile is a mixture of polished glass, stone-honed marble and polished marble. It covers one wall as a focal area. We wanted a medium-dark cabinet to pair with the tile colors, and then the mix of countertop colors to differentiate between the pair of islands.
The two kitchen islands, with the bridge connecting them, are a unique concept.
The space is so open that it didn’t seem appropriate for a general peninsula or a typical island. So I came up with this idea of a main island that serves as a part of the kitchen work triangle of refrigerator, stove and sink. Then I added another island off it, turned in a different direction, to create a bar area. It adds another functional space, so guests can be near the kitchen, but don’t have to be in it. It’s a happy medium.
One side of that island has cabinets for liquor and the other side has a sink and wine cooler, all of which are handy when entertaining. While creating the two areas, I thought it would be interesting if I could place a slab—a big chunk of stone—between the islands. At the time, I figured I would need to put legs under it for support, even though I thought it would look better without it. I told AHI Stoneworks what I envisioned and they said they could do it. So, happily, the bridge ended up without legs. It connects the two islands and is entirely open underneath.
When designing a large area that serves different functions, how do you ensure that the spaces complement each other?
I made sure all the elements had an organic feel with neutral browns, beiges and taupes. Then I brought out color in the artwork and accessories. All the finishes are very uniform. Another way I related the living area to the kitchen is by having a cabinet custom-built for the living space using the same materials as the kitchen cabinetry. I also added a floating shelf that repeats the horizontal lines of the kitchen as well as the cabinet finish.
At the same time, contrasting elements can be helpful for balance. How did you create contrast in this space?
Since there are so many horizontal lines, I had to keep the design from becoming static. So I integrated softer lines, such the curve of the sofa and the roundness of the dining table, dining room rug and light fixtures.
The light fixtures in the dining room and above the kitchen bridge provide another unique element in this design.
I love interesting lighting. The fixture in the dining room has a wood canopy, which repeats the wood theme from the adjacent areas. And there’s a mixture of low-voltage lighting and line-voltage lighting, so it creates a more diverse look. The fixtures in the kitchen are the same. They have hand-blown glass globes, so the pattern on each globe is different, which creates a bit of interest.
What design principles do you keep in mind when approaching a major renovation like this?
I make sure everything is in balance and that the rooms have a good sense of flow, especially when I’m working with an existing structure. I want to ensure the new area flows into the old area well, and with the openness of these rooms, that was easily achieved.
Interior design Meridith Hamilton, CKD, allied ASID, MLH Designs, Inc., Little Rock, (501) 766-0594, mlh-designs.com
Architect Yeary Lindsey Architects, Little Rock, (501) 372-5940, yearylindsey.com
Contractor Sanders Construction, Benton, (501) 840-4216
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800; North Little Rock, (501) 758-1988; Springdale, (479) 750-2200; metroappliancesandmore.com
Countertops AHI Stoneworks, Hot Springs, (501) 262-1622, ahistoneworks.com
Doors, windows Pella Window & Doors Showroom, North Little Rock, (501) 758-5050; Springdale, (479) 750-2800; pella.com
Fabric-pillows, window treatments Cynthia East Fabrics, Little Rock, (501) 663-0460, cynthiaeastfabrics.com
Flooring Sutherland’s Building Material, Benton, (501) 778-8713
Furnishings Cantrell Furniture Design Center, Little Rock, (501) 225-0002, cantrellfurniture.com; Mertinsdyke Home, Little Rock, (501) 280-3200
Lighting Light Innovations, Little Rock, (501) 223-9026, blog.light-innovations.com
Paint Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide, sherwin-williams.com
Plumbing fixtures Southern Pipe & Supply, locations statewide, southernpipe.com
Television Audio Dimensions, Little Rock, (501) 223-1115, audiodimensions.net
Tile Elder Distributing, North Little Rock, (501) 758-4170, elderdistributing.com
Window treatments Nancy Osborn, North Little Rock, (870) 680-2730