If you know Garry Mertins, you know he brandishes a magnetic, never-met-a-stranger attitude. As the owner and principal designer of Little Rock-based Garry Mertins Design, he brings the same attitude to each project he tackles. So, it’s not hard to see why Hot Springs homeowners Steve and Kathy Storey valued his counsel and enjoyed his enthusiasm when it came to the design of their home.
The Storeys’ advantageously situated lakeside home overlooks lush Garvan Woodland Gardens as well as a pristine stretch of Hot Springs’ very own aquatic jewel—Lake Hamilton. However, the home’s construction prevented them from taking in the sights just outside their walls. “When you live on Lake Hamilton and you’re not enjoying the scenic landscape every day, something’s got to be done about it,” says Mertins, and rightly so. His solution? Create serene outdoor focal points the Storeys can enjoy from practically every room in the house. “It was time to consider the bigger picture,” he says and developed a design plan sure to revolutionize the Storeys’ living space, capacity to entertain and ultimately their lifestyle.
Long-time friends, the Storeys and Mertins first recognized a need for a full-home makeover when the family’s primary hangout had become the large, comfy den on the backside of the house, which did not include a view of the lake. Moreover, the dated formal separation of the kitchen and dining area made it tricky to entertain large groups and obscured gorgeous panoramic views. “People don’t live like this anymore—in tiny, separate rooms, each detached from the others. Open concept is the way to go,” Mertins confides. Avid hobbyists and empty nesters, the Storeys requested one main level for everyday living, leaving the home’s lower level as recreational space for the grandkids. For this main level they were most concerned with creating functional display and storage space to accommodate Kathy’s antique glassware collection and floral artistry wares. They also knew that his-and-her bathrooms and dressing areas were a must.
To get the ball rolling, Mertins initiated the architectural renovation by adding 25 feet to the original living room, knocking out the main wall separating the living and dining areas, and moving the den from the back to the front of the house to craft a unique three-in-one common area that includes the living room, dining room and kitchen. To maintain aesthetic proportion, he bumped up the front of the house by a few feet to make room for a spacious entrance hall, and then positioned the couple’s respective retreats as offshoots of the master bedroom.
When it came to the decorative portion of the renovation, Mertins achieved cohesiveness in the newly created rooms with a shared color palette of earth tones. “The way we handled the flooring, wall color and ceilings,” he explains, “is very telling to the overall rustic theme we were going for in the home.” From the grays, blues and creams in the den, to the pale, yellowy-tan that blankets the common room, the light, airy foundation allows Kathy’s dark, antique woods as well as her blue-and-white porcelain pieces to age well and pop without feeling too heavy for the space. A mix of slate tile floors and rich hardwoods complete the natural look and complement the wooden beams, which are angled across the home’s vaulted ceilings.
Features that underscore the environment also come into play in the furnishings. For example, wood sculptures define a rhythm within the home that harkens to the woodsy surround. In the dining room, Mertins selected an antler-inspired wooden chandelier and a turn-of-the-century driftwood serving table from southern France. Other custom sculptures originated from driftwood Steve had collected from the nearby shore.
The focus on the Storeys’ love of the outdoors as well as the blend of old and new personalize the home. “If anything, it’s about comfort—clean, but not cold,” Mertins concludes, “which is really how Kathy and Steve are. I’ve been in spaces that look like a museum, and that’s just not them. There’s not a square inch of the house they don’t use.”
Interior design Garry Mertins, Garry Mertins Design, Little Rock, (501) 376-6600, garrymertinsdesign.com
Architects Hrand DuValian, Cromwell Architects, Little Rock, (501) 372-2900, cromwell.com; James Gray, Hot Springs, (501) 623-9925
Contractor Mike Usdrowski Construction, Hot Springs, (501) 760-2675
Landscape design Bennett Brothers Stone Co., Inc., Hot Springs (501) 984-5040, Little Rock, (501) 455-5040, bennettbrosstone.com
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800, North Little Rock, (501) 771-1840, Springdale, (479) 750-2200, metroappliancesandmore.com
Cabinets Hanke Brothers, Hot Springs, (501) 262-3399, hankebrothers.com
Countertops Emcar Marble & Granite, Hot Springs, (501) 625-7194
Fixtures Falk Supply, locations statewide, (800) 844-3255, falksupply.com
Flooring Aloha Hardwood Flooring, Bryant, (501) 944-1089, alohawoodfloors.com
Furnishings and accessories MertinsDykeHome, Little Rock, (501) 280-3200, mertinsdykehome.com
Lighting Mor Electric Supply, Hot Springs, (501) 624-5577
Tile Elder Tile, Maumelle, (501) 758-4170, elderdistributing.com
Windows Pella Windows & Doors, North Little Rock, (501) 758-5050, pella.com
Window treatments Pro Millwork Inc., Hot Springs, (501) 623-8100