Working alongside a list of high-profile designers, including color connoisseur Jamie Drake, gave Arkansas native Laura Bartell plenty of inspiration for interiors that were anything but neutrally monochromatic. After returning to her beloved home state to start her own Hot Springs-based firm in 2010, Bartell was eager to apply her learnings–especially when it came to colorful homes. Luckily, just the project presented itself—a complete renovation of a 1970s-style home.
“It was just out of the ‘Brady Bunch’ era,” laughs Bartell. “There was shag carpet, dark wood paneling and very dated appliances,” she recalls. However, the space did have several key things working in its favor including an overall good bone structure, outstanding views of Little Rock’s Overlook area and perhaps most importantly, a client that was ready to dig in from day one.
Not only were the home’s furnishings dated, its overall plan was choppy, preventing them from enjoying each other’s company in the flow of a continuous space. Before she started on the furnishings, Bartell worked with local contractor, Jimmy Lasley, to reconfigure the home’s layout. The pair updated the flow and circulation of the home, giving the living areas room to breathe by replacing walls with banks of windows to expose the gorgeous hillside views. From there, it was time to get to work on the furnishings.
“When I’m designing, I love to mix traditional furnishings and heirlooms with modern art and lots of color. It’s exciting and can make any space feel fresh and young-hearted,” relates Bartell. In an effort to remain true to this client’s personal style and needs, she used numerous preexisting pieces, many of which were traditional, and also drew inspiration for the color palette from their collections, as well as the things they said were most important to them.
“Their previous home was decorated in blue, white and yellow, and they really wanted to keep a lot of these colors in the new space. They also have a large collection of blue-and-white china pieces, and I wanted to scatter these around the home,” notes Bartell. Using these factors as a starting point, she drew up designs for a home adorned in primary hues, including the homeowner’s favorite blues and yellows, as well as the addition of red to complete the primary trio and bring warmth to the home’s palette. Different spaces took on different aspects of the palette allowing the entire home to flow with a sense of cohesiveness. For example, the yellow walls of the kitchen feel light and cheerful, and also carry over in the drapery selections for the dining room as well as many of the accessories and the artwork in the living area. For the home’s foyer a traditional oriental rug was the starting point. From there Bartell accented with a contemporary light fixture and wide wingback chair to give the space the personalized, collected look that is characteristic of the home.
There is one space, however, that deviates from the red, blue and yellow palette – a kid-friendly guest room. “Since the couple has grandchildren that visit frequently, it was important to create a space designed just for them,” says Bartell of the room’s inspiration. The wall color came first, as a play off the other rooms’ primary palettes. “From there the canopies were an easy and affordable way to add something special to the room,” she says of the striped fabric and grosgrain creations that hang just above the set of twin beds.
Designer Laura Bartell, Laura Bartell Interiors, Hot Springs, (917) 280-5126, laurabartell.com
Contractor Jimmy Lasley, The Lasley Co., Little Rock, (501) 975-5550, thelasleycompany.com
Accessories Laura Bartell Interiors, (917) 280-5126, laurabartell.com
Appliances Metro Appliances and More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800, North Little Rock, (501) 758-1988, Springdale, (479) 750-2200, metroappliancesandmore.com
Art Greg Thompson Fine Art, North Little Rock, (501) 664-2787, gregthompsonfineart.com
Cabinets Kimberly Cabinets, Cabot, (501) 988-1475, kimberlycabinets.com
Fabrics Cynthia East Fabrics, Little Rock, (501) 663-0460, cynthiaeastfabrics.com
Fixtures Southern Pipe & Supply Co., Little Rock, (501) 663-9700, southernpipe.com
Fresh floral Tipton & Hurst, Conway, (501) 329-6663, Little Rock, (501) 666-3333, North Little Rock, (501) 753-0709, tiptonhurst.com
Paint Benjamin Moore, locations statewide, benjaminmoore.com; Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide, sherwin-williams.com
Rugs Hadidi Oriental Rug Company, Little Rock, (501) 225-8999
Tile Acme Brick, Tile & Stone, Little Rock, (501) 812-5574, acmebricktileandstone.com
Windows and doors Kaufman by Design, Kaufman Lumber Co., Little Rock, (501) 568-3182, kaufmanlumber.com
Window treatments Blind Lady, North Little Rock, (501) 851-7941