Taggart Design Group creates an architectural work of art that also highlights the home’s natural surroundings
Burt Taggart, Jr. approaches a new home’s design much the way an artist approaches a blank canvas. “For me it always starts with walking the land and letting the land suggest how it should be developed,” says the celebrated central Arkansas architect who co-owns Taggart Design Group with his son, Burt Taggart, III.
When it came to Patricia and Barry Solomon’s Little Rock home, the process was no different. Taggart considered the site and how the home would impact it for years to come, along with the Solomon’s love of color, their taste in art and perhaps most importantly, their former residence. “The Solomon’s previous home was also modern, filled with color and had an orientation toward their pool,” says Taggart. These were all features the couple liked and wanted to recreate in the design of their new home. As Taggart began to work, what evolved was a concept with a long-winding road that leads to the home’s private façade. From there, guests are slowly introduced to the structure’s soul through the minimal landscaping, round curvature of the exterior and the water features, which appear as you approach the home’s front entry. Additionally, the wooden plank ceiling, which begins at the front entry, carries through to the home’s interior and the same walkway you see at the front of the home is carried over to the back patio. The combination of these small context clues prepares you for the home’s interior and its outlook as you move through the entry.
While the front exterior may have a subtle, somber presence, the ambience of the home changes quickly as your enter it. “When you open the front door, the view explodes,” says Taggart enthusiastically. “It’s basically a glass box,” he says of the home’s back wall. The structure was built to wrap around the pool at a 45-degree angle, and because of the land’s natural rise and fall, you are 12-15 feet off the ground at any given time, meaning your sight line lies directly in the trees. The effect is reminiscent of a tree house. Rooms throughout the home’s interior include large glass windows to take advantage of the multiple viewpoints. “Some views from inside the home are intimate and more encapsulated, like the one from the tub in the master bath,” says Taggart. However, the public areas of the home feature vast views that are more open and constantly evolving following the pattern of the seasons—making them very private in the summer’s lush foliage and more airy in the winter months. “When a house lives with a strong indoor-outdoor presence, nature becomes the best art,” notes Taggart.
With the structure’s overall design and orientation focused on the exterior environment, it’s important to note the interiors were not an afterthought. In both the common and more private areas of the home, the Solomon’s love of color came into play through the use of bright tile, accent walls and art. The dining room, living room and library were designed to function as one linear space. The fireplace separates the living area from the library, but the flow is seemingly uninterrupted thanks in part to wood flooring and a plank ceiling that are both continuous throughout the rooms. In the living area, a purple accent wall adds bold color along with pieces from the Solomon’s art collection.
In the kitchen and dining area, the palette is an artistic blend of wood and white. The cabinetry throughout the home is riff-cut oak with a vertical grain to complement the design’s clean lines and horizontal concept. The Solomons both love to cook, so Taggart spent a good deal of time designing and redesigning the kitchen to make it perfect for the couple’s needs and style. “It’s very non-traditional in the sense that your view is almost 360 degrees throughout the space. Because it was so open, I wanted it to be pretty as well as functional,” says the architect.
The same practical, yet aesthetically pleasing concept was applied to the master bath, which features his and her sides with two vanities that are opposite one another. Patricia’s side has a soaking tub accented by a shimmering mosaic backsplash, while Barry’s side offers a walk-in shower. Sandblasted ribbons along the windows allow plenty of natural light into the space without sacrificing privacy in the shower.
When the two-and-a-half year project came to completion, Taggart looked back to reflect on the experience. “When you pour as much of your life into a house as we did this one, you cannot leave the experience without thinking of friendship—and being happy to give them exactly what was right for them,” he says of his clients and friends the Solomons. “That is the reward of designing custom houses—helping a couple accomplish their dream house.”
Architecture, kitchen design and project management Burt Taggart, Jr., Burt Taggart, III, Chris Diamond, Taggart Design Group, Little Rock, 225-4976, taggartdesigngroup.com
Construction consultant Paul Word, Custom Built, Inc., Little Rock, (501) 590-5864
Landscape design Frank Riggins, Little Rock, (501) 246-4632
Landscape installation and maintenance, outdoor lighting Horticare, Little Rock, (501) 407-2727, horticare.net
Audiovisual Audio Dimensions, Little Rock, (501) 223-1115, audiodimensions.net
Cabinets—kitchen and bath, millwork Custom Built, Inc., Little Rock, (501) 590-5864
Concrete design and installation Creative Concrete Concepts, Benton, (501) 315-3713
Countertops Arkansas Granite & More, Little Rock, (501) 315-4500, argrmore.com
Deck Twin Brothers, Inc., Little Rock, (501) 912-1756
Flooring Arnold’s Flooring America, Little Rock, (501) 400-7558, arnoldsflooringlittlerock.com
Fresh floral Tipton Hurst, Conway, (501) 329-6663, Little Rock, (501) 666-3333, North Little Rock, (501) 753-0709, tiptonhurst.com
Lighting Light Innovations, Little Rock, (501) 223-9026, light-innovations.com
Outdoor furniture Ken Rash, Little Rock, (501) 663-1818, kenrashsoutdoorfurniture.com
Painting Gary Grimmett, Lonsdale, (501) 625-9470
Pool Grindley Concrete Pools, Cabot, (501) 835-7946, grindleyconcretepools.com
Rugs Martinous Oriental Rug Company, Little Rock, (501) 224-0313, martinous.com
Windows Glass Erectors, Mabelvale, (501) 537-4625, glasserectors.com