For Cassie Toro, living in an historic home means relishing the ambience and character of architecture that dates to the early 1900s—including original Tiger Sawn hardwood flooring, beautifully crafted scrollwork and even the elegant charm of a limestone mantel that looks to be a 19th century European import. However, while the home’s thoughtful construction and existing beauty were more than enough to lure her to purchase the property, Toro was eager to put her own spin on the space, making it more suitable for her lifestyle and reflective of her personal taste.
Completed in 1922 and first home to John and Snow Boyle, the expansive house features three bedrooms, three and a half baths, numerous sitting areas, what was once used as a sleeping porch, and large areas for entertaining and hosting dinner parties. “The family must have been very progressive for their time,” notes Toro. “It’s rare to find an historic home with three bedrooms that each have their own separate bath.” Toro, who grew up in Jonesboro but has lived around the country, frequently hosts weekend guests, making the separate bed and bath layout a perfect fit. In fact, the majority of the home’s floor plan was conducive to her style and required little change.
“I wanted to keep as much of the existing floor plan as possible,” says Toro, who poured over the original plans when she first purchased the house. After evaluating the design along with updates that had been made through the years, she found the kitchen, located in the rear of the home on the lower level, would be the biggest renovation. “I have always enjoyed having an open space for cooking and serving, but the existing kitchen was small and choppy, and had almost no counter space,” she says. Removing a wall that compartmentalized the home’s breakfast nook, dining room and kitchen opened up lots of square footage, allowing Toro to enjoy the company of others who might be in the formal dining room or relaxing in the breakfast-nook-turned-sitting-room, while she works away in the kitchen. “I was looking for ways to use the spaces that made sense in our present day,” she says, “and taking down that wall just made sense for cooking and entertaining.”
Apart from this change, the home’s floor plan stayed true to the original blueprint. “I reconfigured the layout in the full baths,” she says, “installing new showers and bathtubs in places that made more sense for the flow, but essentially left everything else in place.” Aside from the home’s traditional bedrooms and baths, there are several unique spaces that are emblematic of historical appeal. Upstairs, a cozy retreat known as the chapel room features a 19th century European limestone mantel and iron scrollwork. “I’ve been told the original owners added this space so their daughter could be married here,” says Toro of the room, which features a large bank of casement windows that would have allowed guests to take in the ceremony from the lawn.
Toro, who has worked on several downtown Little Rock renovations, has a particular penchant for the area and for maximizing the buildings and homes here. Having worked with both architects and designers on her previous homes, she was eager to tackle this one on her own using her knowledge of both space planning and design for a result that suits her perfectly. “I like to use a mix of high and low when it comes to decorating,” she says of her passion for blending flea finds with high-end pieces. “Just because you live in an older home, doesn’t mean it has to be decorated in its time period. You can keep the architecture and original beauty and still make it livable.”
Architect John Jarrard, Little Rock, (501) 375-4249
Contractor CM Construction, Little Rock, (501) 374-1173, cmconstructioninc.net
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800, North Little Rock, (501) 771-1840, Springdale, (479) 750-2200, metroappliancesandmore.com
Art Chenal Gallery, Little Rock, (501) 821-2787; M2 Gallery, Little Rock, (501) 225-6271, m2lr.com
Cabinets Homeworks Kitchen and Bath Center, Hardy, (870) 856-5455
Countertops Inside Effects, Little Rock, (501) 954-8866, inside-effects.com
Fabrics Cynthia East Fabrics, Little Rock, (501) 663-0460, cynthiaeastfabrics.com; Designer Effects, Little Rock, (501) 661-4070
Fixtures The Plumbing Warehouse, Little Rock, (501) 664-4183, tpw-lrshowroom.com
Furniture Bear-Hill Interiors, Little Rock, (501) 907-9272, bearhillinteriors.com; Cobblestone & Vine, Little Rock, (501) 664-4249, West Little Rock, (501) 219-3676, cobblestoneandvine.com; Marshall Clements, Little Rock, (501) 663-1828, marshallclements.com; Massimo, Little Rock, (501) 664-0355
Lighting Light Innovations, Little Rock, (501) 223-9026, light-innovations.com
Paint Benjamin Moore, locations statewide, benjaminmoore.com
Paint treatments Angelfish Studios, Little Rock, 501-960-4826, angelfishstudios.net
Tile—bath and flooring C&F Flooring, Little Rock, (501) 399-9909, candfcarpet.com
Tile—kitchen Inside Effects, Little Rock, (501) 954-8866, inside-effects.com
Window coverings Cynthia East Fabrics, Little Rock, (501) 663-0460, cynthiaeastfabrics.com