More really is merrier at this no-fuss vacation home, situated on the shores of Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs
When designer Garry Mertins first came on board this new-construction lake house project, the homeowners—two adult siblings and their spouses—explained the mission to him this way: “When we’re here, we’re here to relax. We also want our kids to be able to relax, and we want them to bring all of their friends and have a great time with minimal stress.” With easy living for all ages as his key objective, Mertins worked to maximize both function and experience for the two families and their many, year-round guests.
At the heart of the home is a generous, open-plan living area on the main level. Exposed structural components contribute to the sleek, elemental effect of the design: the vaulted 20-foot ceilings are lined with eight-inch oak planks, the floors consist of scored and finished concrete, and an exposed steel I-beam and support mechanism runs the length of the room. And though the architecture is very linear and edited, Mertins has prioritized comfort in the space, by drawing it all to human scale with furnishings.
“This room makes entertaining easy, whether you have three people or thirty,” says Mertins. Defined activity zones allow for an intimate feeling no matter the size of the gathering, while plush rugs and oversized furniture provide total comfort, especially after a long day of sun and water sports. The room encompasses a high-tech kitchen—with seating for eight on barstools gathered around an extended island—a dining room, a wet bar, a small sitting area, and a spacious family room.
“The design is all about making this a happy, easygoing place to hang out,” says Mertins. He achieves the desired effect by bringing together the sleek, contemporary style with an attitude of all-access livability, creating a place where spills and wet feet are no cause for alarm. From the custom cabinetry to the finish of the non-decorative lighting elements, Mertins chose paint and stain colors that wrap the entire space in an earthy, low-contrast, mid-tone palette he knew would offer maximum resilience to stains and smudges. More energetic hues of teal, gold, and tomato red draw the eye to original artworks, decorative elements, and upholstery across the space. Easy-to-clean ultrasuede on the sectionals and Sunbrella indoor/outdoor fabric on the dining room chairs make for worry-free use in this high-traffic, multifunctional living area.
The two master suites, mirrored at opposite ends of the main floor, were tailored to each couple’s specific preferences. In these rooms, as in the rest of the home, Mertins keeps the focus on simple luxuries that provide for optimum physical comfort and a sensory experience—like bedding and carpeting—rather than lots of unnecessary furniture, which is not functional for the family’s lake house lifestyle. The lower level of the home consists of a large game room with a minibar and four guest rooms, two of which house two sets of bunk beds—not twin-sized, but full—which makes them ideal for sleepovers.
“This isn’t just a summertime program,” says Mertins, “but right now is definitely the peak season.” It’s not difficult to see why this is the case; the outdoor amenities of the home prioritize convenience and enjoyment. A spacious deck extends the main level of the home beyond its windowed wall and provides an outdoor dining space with a retractable canopy, as well as built-in propane and charcoal grills, for tableside cooking. Surrounding the pool, various seating areas invite the family and their guests to make themselves comfortable, whether that means sunning in a lounge chair or relaxing on a sofa in the shade of one of the bright green umbrellas. Just across the boardwalk from the boat slip is a boathouse, where the families store fresh beach towels and favorite lake toys, and which also houses an icemaker, eliminating the need for lugging full coolers or ice to the boat.
When asked about how he was able to tailor his design to both parents and kids and allow for everyone to relax in the way that suits them best, Mertins reflected that it was not as difficult as one might assume. “The entire home, indoors and out, is really designed for kids. Because, when you think about it, the adults get to be kids here, too,” he says.
Architect Gene Levy, Cromwell Architects Engineers, Inc., Little Rock, (501) 372-2900, cromwell.com
Contractor Tim Killian General Contractors, Hot Springs, (501) 617-1293
Interior design Garry Mertins, Garry Mertins Design Inc., Little Rock, (501) 376-6600, garrymertinsdesign.com
Kitchen and bath design Gene Levy, Cromwell Architects Engineers, Inc., Little Rock, (501) 372-2900, cromwell.com; Garry Mertins, Garry Mertins Design Inc., Little Rock, (501) 376-6600, garrymertinsdesign.com
Accessories mertinsdykehome, Little Rock, (501) 280-3200, mertinsdykehome.com
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800, North Little Rock, (501) 812-5574, Springdale, (479) 750-2200, metroappliancesandmore.com
Art Sandy Hubler Fine Art, Little Rock, (501) 416-0533, sandyhublerfineart.com; Gallery Central, Hot Springs, (501) 318-4278, gallerycentralfineart.com; mertinsdykehome, Little Rock, (501) 280-3200, mertinsdykehome.com
Bedding, carpet, and wallpaper Garry Mertins Design Inc., Garry Mertins Design Inc., Little Rock, (501) 376-6600, garrymertinsdesign.com
Cabinets and millwork McClain’s Custom Cabinets, Hot Springs, (501) 767-2007
Countertops Emcar Marble and Granite, Inc., Hot Springs, (501) 625-7194
Fixtures Falk Plumbing Supply, Hot Springs, (501) 321-1231, North Little Rock, (501) 664-3911, falksupply.com
Flooring Custom Concrete Designs, North Little Rock, (501) 912-8855, customconcretedesigns.net
Fresh floral Tipton Hurst, Conway, (501) 329-6663, Little Rock, (501) 666-3333, North Little Rock, 753-0709, tiptonhurst.com
Lighting Garry Mertins Design Inc., Little Rock, (501) 376-6600, garrymertinsdesign.com; Light Innovations, Little Rock, (501) 223-9026, light-innovations.com; MOR Electric, Hot Springs, (501) 624-5577, cedhotsprings.shopced.com
Mirrors McClain’s Custom Cabinets, Hot Springs, (501) 767-2007; mertinsdykehome, Little Rock, (501) 280-3200, mertinsdykehome.com
Paint Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide, sherwin-williams.com
Painting Rick Muns Painting, Hot Springs, (501) 617-2060
Pool R.L. Hurst Construction, Hot Springs, (501) 767-1590 hurstconcrete.com
Tile—bathrooms Arnold’s Flooring, Little Rock, (501) 400-7558, arnoldsflooringlittlerock.com
Tile—kitchen backsplash ACME Brick, Tile & Stone, Fort Smith, (479) 782-7974, Little Rock, (501) 812-5574, Russellville, (479) 968-6900, acmebricktileandstone.com
Window coverings Blind Image Inc., Maumelle, (501) 231-2950, blindimages.com