“I wanted the space to be light and bright like the people who live here,” says interior designer Kevin Walsh, describing a home in Little Rock’s Heights neighborhood that he refurbished for a young family. While the 1990s home they purchased had the classic lines and gracious rooms they were looking for, the dark colors throughout it were a sharp contrast to the serene style they sought.
“They’re both outgoing and lively, but they’re also peaceful, so we simplified the design and lightened the color palette to reflect that,” says Walsh. Doing so, he adds, showcased the home’s structural beauty, including the window casings and crown molding. “The house has such strong architecture that I didn’t think it needed a lot of decoration,” he says.
Walsh brightened the main living spaces with a color palette consisting of various shades of beige, and started by covering the walls of the kitchen, dining room, living room and master bedroom with a custom-blended beige paint from Sherwin-Williams. He added more layers of beige to the home by selecting light-colored fabrics for the draperies and furniture in each room. In the kitchen, this meant cream-and-white patterned fabric for the draperies, textural tan upholstery for chairs next to the kitchen fireplace and slipcovers for the barstools, while the wood-paneled family room was brightened with a cream sofa and plenty of pillows. Walsh adopted the same color palette for the more formal living and dining rooms, but installed custom double-panel silk curtains and elegant rugs for a more classic look in those spaces.
Within this neutral palette, Walsh integrated accents of soft blue and green, which are favorite colors of the homeowners, through the careful placement of accessories and artwork. “They like to collect art, which is another reason we went with a neutral color palette,” explains Walsh. “The art is the color.” In the living room, a serene painting by local artist Sammy Peters stands out above the living room fireplace, while satin antique textile pillows pop against the cream-colored camelback sofa. Elsewhere, the soft blue color plays prominently in the textiles and fabric Walsh used in the family room.
Instead of color, Walsh incorporated interesting objects and subtle details. “Every piece plays a role in the whole design,” he notes. “You don’t always need color if you bring in interesting objects.” An embroidered suzani bed throw inspired the soothing décor in the master bedroom, which includes a cream tufted headboard and translucent resin light fixture with pale pink flowers. And in the master bathroom, Walsh added raffia to the walls and wallpapered the ceiling in order “to break up the length of the room,” he says. He also installed a frosted glass hurricane light fixture with a Greek key etching and plantation shutters over the bathroom doors, which look out to the home’s courtyard.
In addition, Walsh made sure that the family’s heirlooms played an important role in the décor. “They’re very in tune with where they came from, so we tried to blend old and new,” he says. “It’s all about the mix to me, because that’s what makes it interesting.” The mirror, sideboard and botanical prints in the dining room have survived through many generations, as has much of the owners’ collection of silver, china and crystal.
“It’s very Southern to have lots of silver and family keepsakes,” Walsh says. “The homeowners were thrilled that I was able to work those pieces into the design, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Interior Design Kevin Walsh, Bear-Hill Interiors, Little Rock
Architect Williams & Dean Associated Architects, Little Rock
Builder Jack Hartsell Construction, Tom Colford Custom Improvements, both in Little Rock
Accessories Bear-Hill Interiors, Little Rock; Justus Fine Art Gallery, Hot Springs
Artwork Heights Gallery, Little Rock
Drapery Mountjoy’s Custom Draperies, Mabelvale
Fabric, floral design, hardware, lighting, wall coverings Bear-Hill Interiors, Little Rock
Flooring C & F Carpet and Flooring, Little Rock
Furnishings Bear-Hill Interiors, Trianon Antiques, Clement, all in Little Rock