A view of the Arkansas River and its woodlands encourage a Little Rock couple to renovate a home to fit their needs
Looking to bring a sense of calm to their routine, a Little Rock couple set out to find a new home where they could spread out a bit, relax and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. Hoping for a river view, their options were limited. When a classically styled house on a quiet street came available, they knew that with a little imagination—and help from a trusted team of experts—they could transform it to suit their needs perfectly.
At first glance, the home wasn’t exactly dream-worthy. In fact, it was just the opposite of what this couple had in mind. But the red brick Georgian-style house did have a few things going for it; namely, a view of the Arkansas River and beyond. Inside, a small galley kitchen, dark hallways, and low ceilings didn’t suit the couple’s taste or lifestyle, so they called on architect Tom Fennell and designer Bill Beringer to bring the space to life.
After seeing the home and hearing the couple’s needs, Fennell decided to enlarge the back of the house by more than twenty feet, expanding a sun room into a large living room and making way for a new, more spacious kitchen. The design team also worked together to transform a compact formal living room into a cozy study, and the once-small kitchen into what is now a well-appointed butler’s pantry, which holds the homeowner’s extensive collection of heirloom serving ware including china, crystal, and silver.
Though the home nearly doubled in size, the elevation from the street remains the same. In keeping with the style of the neighborhood, it still appears to be a one-story rambler, though its formerly red brick façade is now hidden beneath a layer of stucco. Where a large porch with over-scaled columns stood, there is now a sleek cast-stone portico with a metal roof. Inside, the three headers leading inward from the foyer were raised, creating a sight line from the front door out the back windows to the river. As a result, the once-dark hallway is now bathed in light. To accentuate the open nature of the house, every room—with the exception of two baths—is painted the same dark cream with hints of gray, a custom mix by Sherwin-Williams.
Beveled marble fireplace surrounds, crystal chandeliers, silk draperies, and fine antiques lend an air of formality to the home, but every space is well used. “We love our home, and find that it is very easy to live in,” says the homeowner. To give the spaces an unfussy feeling, Beringer mixed the owners’ antiques with sleek, yet comfortable upholstery and kept accessories to a minimum. Having worked with the clients before, he helped them take this home in a new direction. “Their previous home was very traditional—full of oriental rugs and antiques—but they didn’t want to go that route this time. They wanted it to be very clean and minimal,” he says. A neutral color palette of soft earth tones is a nod to the view out the windows, but doesn’t compete with it. “They wanted their art and their guests to be the home’s color,” adds Beringer.
In the end, the couple achieved exactly what they desired: a classically elegant home that lives comfortably and makes entertaining a breeze. But it’s the location of the house that makes it extra special. “Waking up to the river view every morning is an adventure,” says the homeowner. “From our porch, we can see small herds of deer bed down at night, watch fog roll up the hill from the river in the mornings, and listen to people having a good time on their boats during the summer. It’s almost as if we’re not even in town.”
Architect Tom Fennell, AIA, Fennell Purifoy Architects, Little Rock, (501) 372-6734, fennellpurifoy.com
Contractor Ron Head Construction, Jacksonville, (501) 982-0011
Interior design Bill Beringer, Little Rock
Kitchen design Bill Wrape, Distinctive Kitchens and Baths, Little Rock, (501) 666-7756, kitchensofarkansas.com
Landscape design The Good Earth Garden Center, Little Rock, (501) 868-4666, thegoodearthgarden.com
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, Jonesboro, (870) 933-7800, North Little Rock, (501) 758-1988, Springdale, (479) 750-2200, metroappliancesandmore.com
Bedding—custom Mountjoy’s Custom Draperies, Mabelvale, (501) 455-2216
Cabinets—kitchen Distinctive Kitchens and Baths, Little Rock, (501) 666-7756, kitchensofarkansas.com
Countertops—kitchen, fireplace and tile Inside Effects, Little Rock, (501) 954-8866, insideeffects.com
Flooring—installation and finishing Darrell Bradley, (501) 590-0297
Floral design About Vase, Little Rock, (501) 603-9200, aboutvaselittlerock.com
Fixtures—kitchen Falk Plumbing, Hot Springs, (501) 321-1231, North Little Rock, (501) 664-3911, falksupply.com
Furniture Bear-Hill Interiors, Little Rock, (501) 907-9272, bearhillinteriors.com; Massimo Interior Design, Little Rock, (501) 664-0355, massimointeriordesign.com; Trianon Antiques, Little Rock, (501) 666-0339, trianon-antiques.com
Glass West Little Rock Glass, Little Rock, (501) 223-3034
Hardware Kaufman Lumber, Little Rock, (501) 568-3182, kaufmanlumber.com
Mirrors Trianon Antiques, Little Rock, (501) 666-0339, trianon-antiques.com
Paint Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide, sherwin-williams.com
Windows Pella Windows & Doors, North Little Rock, (501) 758-5050, pella.com