The owners of The Painted Pig, a paint-your-own pottery and DIY studio in Little Rock, have announced the opening of a sister studio offering pottery wheel instruction. Located in west Little Rock’s Pleasant Ridge shopping center, The Muddy Pig will offer group classes and private lessons for a variety of skill levels. “We’ve always been asked if we would offer pottery wheel classes at The Painted Pig, and when we moved to a larger location in 2019, the plan was to start it there,” says co-owner Allie Nottingham….
After temporarily closing to relocate, Betsy and Michael Pugh are re-opening their furnishings store Weathered Goods at a new, larger location. Michael originally opened the shop in Fayetteville in 2017 with a focus on his handmade wooden furniture. “I’ve always had a passion for making and building things, and my wife has a passion for home décor,” he says….
Four years after Chris Bronson closed the doors on her beloved antiques and interiors store, her daughter-in-law picked up the torch for the family business. Jennifer Bronson’s The French Cottage opened this fall featuring antiques imported from France as well as gifts such as soaps, candles, gourmet food items, and home décor. Jennifer worked with her mother-in-law at French Quarters & Feather Your Nest in downtown Fayetteville for almost 20 years, learning the ropes of the antiques market while accompanying Chris on buying trips to Europe and developing relationships with vendors there. …
In June, Belle & Blush announced a second location would be coming soon in the Heights. Owned by Merry Kline, the skincare and cosmetics store also provides makeup and esthetician services. Merry opened Belle & Blush in The Promenade in 2013 and expanded that store in 2018. Now, the additional location will be housed in the historic Heights Theatre, with Ashley Childers at the helm of interior design and Ashley’s husband, Garrett Childers of Wiggins and Childers, on board as the contractor….
In late summer, Little Rock entrepreneurs Erin Hohnbaum and Natalie Ghidotti announced the launch of The Nest, a “coworking community and social club built by women, for women,” according to its website. As the owner of women’s boutique E.Leigh’s and public relations firm Ghidotti Communications, respectively, the two came up with the concept for a work-meets-play networking space for local women in the heart of the South Main district. “We wanted to stay near downtown for The Nest, as well as be in a vibrant and booming area that pulled together a diverse base of residents,” Natalie says. “SoMa is definitely a special neighborhood that has so many exciting things happening, and we wanted to ensure our members are part of that.” …
Sweet Home Furnishings & clement on South Main Street, a veritable treasure trove of furniture, art, and accessories, is a collaboration between antique dealers John Bell and Chris Clement. The two joined forces more than 15 years ago to bring shoppers a unique experience, integrating their eclectic finds into cohesive vignettes rather than separating them out into individual booths.
Now, they’ve welcomed a third dealer to the store: Jen Bienvenu of J. Bienvenu Interiors. “She has such a great eye, and she started out as a good customer who gradually became a good friend,” Chris says. When he and John started to consider the possibility of a third dealer, the timing was just right for Jen to start selling finds of her own. “We’re so glad to have her; her taste is complementary to what we have in store, but she also has her own viewpoint,” Chris adds. “I’ve been shopping with Chris and John since we moved to Arkansas, and their style has definitely influenced my own aesthetic,” Jen says. “I’m very grateful to be part of their world.” Look for Jen’s contributions to the store—which range from classically designed furniture and upholstery to taxidermy and dried gourds—at 1324 S. Main St. in Little Rock.
In the meantime, we sat down with Jen to hear more about her favorite types of antiques, how she sources them, and what you can expect to find in this unique shop on South Main.
At Home in Arkansas: How long have you been sourcing antiques and other inspired objects?
Jen Bienvenu: Five years ago, when we were looking to furnish our first home in downtown Little Rock, I started sourcing larger pieces of furniture at auction. It’s always a thrill to see what I can pluck from the past to furnish a room.
AHIA: How would you describe some of the pieces you look for? Are there any specific styles or themes that drawn you in?
JB: I’m inspired by the natural world. I’m a big fan of bringing the outdoors in. This includes things like dried gourds, seasonal clippings, furniture made from horn or bamboo, taxidermy, and most recently a vacated hornets nest I found in someone’s garage. I’m always looking for classically designed furniture with clean lines and upholstery with tones we find most often in the natural world: greens, blues, browns, whites. I call this biophilic design and decorating. As humans, we have an innate need to be outside and connected to the natural world. And how fitting that I now reside in The Natural State.
AHIA: Tell us a little about how and where you source your finds.
JB: I source furniture and art at auction from all over the country, most recently from Connecticut, Maryland, and Los Angeles—but there are so many great finds here in Arkansas. You will always find me shopping at local estate sales. I’m also a road warrior and love traveling from Kentucky down through Texas to see what I can fit in my vehicle!
AHIA: What makes you most excited about having a physical shopping space, and housing it under this roof in particular?
JB: I’ve been shopping at Sweet Home and clement with Chris and John since we moved to Arkansas. The vignettes they create in the shop make me want to stay and hangout a while. And so, I do. Chris and John’s style has definitely influenced my own aesthetic. I’m very grateful to be a part of their world.
Follow along on Jen’s treasure hunts on Instagram (@j.bienvenu.interiors).
Photos courtesy of Jen Bienvenu. Headshot by Amy Campbell Photography. A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2021 issue of At Home in Arkansas.
Jewelry designer Brandy Thomason McNair started Bella Vita Jewelry 13 years ago. This fall the small business will expand its Little Rock shop into an adjacent loft, which will contribute 1,200 more square feet to the storefront at 108 W. Sixth St. This means that most of the jewelry production can move off the sales floor, freeing up space for Bella Vita to increase its inventory of apparel, local art, home décor, crystals, and even fair trade items for pets. “I’ve wanted to branch out into more ethically sourced, ‘slow fashion’ apparel items, which this will allow me to do,” Brandy says. …
Todd Smith and Charlie Groppetti, owners of Park Hill Home in Conway—along with their longtime friend and collaborator, Cheryl Hannink—have announced a collection of globally sourced antiques available during quarterly pop-up sales. Known as Todd & Charlie Co., the new venture was launched with a designer-only preview in June, and now the collection is open to the public by appointment in Little Rock’s Riverdale district.
Fixer to Fabulous, the remodeling show featuring Bentonville’s Jenny and Dave Marrs, has just been renewed for 16 new episodes with HGTV—its third season with the network. In the series, the couple overhauls historic homes around Northwest Arkansas, with Dave serving as handyman extraordinaire and Jenny providing interior selections with a modern farmhouse feel. In addition to their home renovation endeavors, the couple also have five children and operate The Berry Farm, a working farm and event venue. (You can learn more about Jenny, Dave, and their experiences with the show on our blog.) …
Inside Effects has offered design and remodeling products, fabrication services, and professional installation for new construction and renovation products for more than 15 years. This spring, they announced a change in ownership and new location, which took effect in April. Still based in North Little Rock, the showroom has moved to 10400 Maumelle Blvd. and is under the ownership of Dustin Hughes, president of Contemporary Concepts and Stone Studio in Texarkana. While fabrication of stone slabs will move to Texarkana, central Arkansans will find the same level of service and state-of-the-art products at the new 10,000-square-foot showroom. Visit insideeffects.com for hours and more information.
This story originally appeared in the June 2021 issue of At Home in Arkansas.