If you lived through the post-World War II boom era—or if you’ve watched even a few episodes of the hit HBO series Mad Men—chances are that words like “calm” and “relaxing” are not the first moods that spring to mind when you think about the culture or aesthetic of that time. But interior designers and architects of the period urged homeowners to eschew elaborate ornamentation in favor of clean lines, expansive floor plans, and seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces: beauty and function, without all the “fluff.” That’s why, when Michael Morton called on designer Tami Risinger to put her signature, clean-and-classic spin on his mid-century, ranch-style home, she knew she could deliver. “I have done many commercial projects with [Michael], and I was excited to help him with his home. I have worked with him so much I just know what he wants: a comfortable home that is laid-back and relaxed, where he could have friends over and entertain.”
Outside In & Inside Out
“The home already had great bones,” Risinger says, “because building materials were made very well back in the fifties. Being able to keep key elements like the terrazzo floors was a huge plus in keeping with the period of the home.” In addition to the period-specific flooring in certain areas, the stacked stone exterior—which extends into interior accent walls, as seen in the entryway—helps set the mod mood. But, Risinger notes, the predominance of the windows was her biggest design cue: “I just really love the simplicity of the home, especially the floor-to-ceiling windows that open it up to the outside. The view is beautiful in every direction you look. I removed all of the window treatments and left it very open seating-wise, so you can appreciate the open view, whether indoors or out.” The windows as well as the consistent use of materials make the transition out onto the patio so subtle that the outdoor living area feels like a direct extension of the home. “The patio and the outdoor fireplace are so inviting;” Risinger says, it draws the eye outside because “it’s made of the same stone that’s on the inside of the home.”
A trend resurgence of mid-century modern textures and silhouettes allowed Risinger to assemble primarily new, vintage-inspired furnishings and accessories from today’s top furniture brands that still harmonize with the retro aesthetic of the home. Morton’s den, for example, is a rich and dynamic space, furnished with a mohair-upholstered sofa, a lacquered coffee table with a Greek key motif, and twin upholstered benches, all made by Baker Furniture. Risinger describes her choices for the room: “I wanted warm hues of rust, black, and brown that would blend with the warm wood of the walls. I used a wool fabric for the drapes with a leather band that I also used as a welt on the mohair sofa. The light fixture is new, but it looks as though it has been here since the home was built in the 1950s.” Similarly, the woven chairs and iron-and-stone table in the sunroom are all new—by McGuire Furniture—but offer a vintage look. When unable to find the perfect piece for a particular space, Risinger created her own, as in the case of the kitchen table, which was custom-made from walnut and metal.
Risinger grounds the design and keeps it current with a few key, timeless choices. For instance, she kept the kitchen’s existing parquet floors and had them refinished with a contrasting stain striping to add character and dimension to the space. “In the long, narrow kitchen,” Risinger explains, “[the floors] make it interesting and different and not feel as narrow.” In the guest bathroom, a splendid Carrara marble countertop and Carrara floor tiles create a huge impact and subtly counterbalance the mirror, light fixture, and cabinet base, all of which resonate so specifically with the mid-century modern aesthetic. Also striking is the variety of original artworks by contemporary artists on display throughout the home; each piece is allowed to take center stage, and the strategic choice to invest primarily in art by living artists—rather than works from the mid-century period—keeps the home feeling current.
When asked about what challenges she faced in the design and renovation process, Risinger responds: “This project was easy. Michael is an amazing client, and he gives me free reign to do whatever I want. It was exactly what I would have done if it had been my own home.” The ease of the process echoes throughout the serene atmosphere of the home, which offers a unique kind of warmth and softness—an elegance really—despite, or, in fact, due to the simplicity of the design.
Interior design, kitchen and bath design Tami Risinger, Tami Risinger Interiors, Conway, (501) 454-2575, tamirisingerinteriors.com
Landscape design Advanced Sprinkler and Landscape, Conway, (501) 472-2123
Project management Chris Weaver, Ridout Lumber, locations statewide, ridoutlumber.com
Accessories, art, bedding, fabrics, furniture, lighting, mirrors, and wallcoverings Tami Risinger Interiors, Conway, (501) 454-2575, tamirisingerinteriors.com
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800, North Little Rock, (501) 758-1988, Springdale, (479) 750-2200, metroappliancesandmore.com
Cabinetry—guest bathroom Ray Netzel, Netzel Cabinet Sales Inc., Gentry, (479) 736-3040
Countertops—bathroom and flooring—marble and tile Inside Effects, North Little Rock, (501) 954-8866, insideeffects.com
Flooring—carpet D & D Floor Covering, Van Buren, (479) 474-0533, ddfloorcovering.com
Landscape—maintenance Marty Beals
Millwork Trademark Trim, Sherwood, (501) 529-7354
Paint Benjamin Moore, locations statewide, benjaminmoore.com
Painting Debco Painting, Benton, (501) 315-0266
Rugs Martinous Oriental Rug Co., Little Rock, (501) 224-0313, martinous.com
Upholstery John Magee, M2 Gallery, Little Rock, (501) 225-6271, m2lr.com
Window treatments Possibilities Unlimited, Conway, (501) 472-5189