At Home in Arkansas: What was the home like before the transformation?
Homeowner Jane Meade: The house had been redone beautifully five years before and was in excellent shape. My quandary was finding the style I wanted the house to follow.
This home has quite a history of past owners.
The home was built by a well-known physician from the Hathcock family in the 1930s. Through the years it has been home to several notable citizens including G. David Gearheart, chancellor of the University of Arkansas, who grew up in this house, and Frank Broyles who lived here with his family when they first moved to town in the early 1960s. I always love to know who has lived in our homes previously.
What did you want to change about the home through the redesign?
Since my children are grown, I decided to have a formal house. I used a lot of whites and creams and more fragile fabrics than I would have used in the past.
What influenced the redesign?
I saw this house like the black and white movies my mom watched on Saturday afternoon when she ironed—those movies set in the 1920s, where the women wear ivory gowns and the men wear tuxedos. My husband Ben is an independent filmmaker and was in academic film for 20 years. He spent time in Hollywood working for Universal Pictures early in his career. The house reminded him of an Orson Welles-style home where the world is in black and white. Ben also believed some influence in design came from German Expressionism, the film structure that preceded film noir in the States during and following WWII. This structure is known for stark black and whites, natural shadows and artistic lighting.
Were there elements original to the home that you wanted to make sure were preserved?
I always like to keep a home’s original elements, if I can. I tried to use as many of the original light fixtures as I could, and I like to keep original tile. I did replace the tile in one bathroom and in the kitchen. I love old tile patterns and it was easy with the designs available now to put in new tile that could have been here since the 1930s. I used the existing cabinets and countertops, and added a backsplash and new floor to pull it into the era. I love all the arches in the house and the curved walls, so I kept those and had them finished in Venetian plaster. The fireplace is also original to the home. I took off some trim and had it painted high-gloss black.
What else was important to you in redesigning this home’s style?
I love beautiful fabrics, and draperies don’t get any wear, so it is a good place to use fabrics you love but wouldn’t have on upholstered pieces. In the living room and dining room, I wanted the drapes to be like a bride’s ivory wedding dress. There are small covered buttons that act as the trim.
Because the home had been redone five years earlier, was there anything that was difficult for you to let go?
It was the hardest to tear out and replace the floor. It was a tile that went beautifully with a more French design. As nice as the tile was, the kitchen had to be changed to fit the new 1920s’ look.
In addition to this home, you’ve redone two historical homes in Little Rock. What different choices did you make for this home than you have in the past?
I usually use a lot more antiques, but I couldn’t use many old pieces here. The look needed to be really sharp. I did go to New York to an antique dealer who specializes in pieces from the 1920s and 1930s. I bought a pair of chairs that I use in the den and the secretary in the living room that are authentic pieces from that time.
Interior design E. Dale Trice, Kati Lockley, Brad Speight, Design Services of Florida, (850) 231-6842, designservicesfl.com
Contractor Tim Janacek, Janacek Construction, Rogers, (479) 621-0565, janacekconstruction.com
Art Boswell Mourot Fine Art, Little Rock, (501) 664-0030, boswellmourot.com
Cabinetry Timber Mill Wood Products Inc., Rogers, (479) 621-0049
Mirrors Cutting Edge Glass and Frame, Springdale, (479) 595-0535, nwastainedglass.com