Penny Stanley’s home near Searcy has been a fixture on her family farm since it was built in the late 1930s. However, its original kitchen, which was last renovated more than 20 years ago, lacked adequate countertop space, and it was too cramped to accommodate guests while Penny prepared meals. Ready for an update, Penny enlisted the help of interior designer Beth Davis to give it the style, functionality and comfort of a modern-day kitchen. “Many people entertain more casually than they used to,” Davis says. “They want an interaction between the kitchen and dining areas.”
Davis began by knocking out the wall separating the kitchen from the dining room. She then replaced a small alcove at the far end of the kitchen with a spacious eat-in bar, and extended the length of the countertops. These changes allow friends and family the freedom to mingle or eat at the bar, giving Penny additional place for prepping and serving meals as well.
Adding functionality was Davis’ next modus operandi, and the designer proceeded to establish an efficient work triangle, placing the three most common work sites an efficient distance apart. She achieved this by removing the island to provide easier access to the refrigerator and sink from the stove, making up for lost prep space with longer counters flanking both the sink and stovetop. Davis adds, “I prefer at least four feet between the island and cabinets, so there just wasn’t enough room for it.”
Davis outfitted the reconfigured space with cabinetry and surfacing that suit not just Penny’s preferences but her personality as well. “Alder cabinets with a smooth dark finish and linear hardware with a nickel finish speak to her elegance,” Davis says, noting Penny’s refined sense of style, “and the slate floors, which she chose, reflect her down-to-earth nature.” In contrast to the smooth cabinets, dark patterned Cambria quartz countertops give the appearance of texture, while a glass tile backsplash lends a touch of shine.
“It helps to get to know my clients early on so I know whether I need to reformulate a plan,” says Davis, who appears to have hit the mark with a sleek new kitchen for her Augusta friend. “Penny’s really enjoying it,” Davis adds.
1. SLEEK STYLE
Along with Cambria quartz countertops, an undermount sink was installed to maintain the kitchen’s seamless look.
2. NATURAL NUANCE
Davis used 16-by-16-inch squares of slate tile to ground the clean-lined space with a natural material.
3. PATTERN POWER
Behind the Wolf range, a mosaic glass tile backsplash is inset with larger squares of ceramic tile for contrast.
4. TEXTURAL TOUCH
Davis’ plan for more lighting included a trio of textural pendant lights from Uttermost that illuminate the peninsula seating area.
Interior design Beth Davis Interiors, Searcy
Renovation Jody Moore, Interior Creations, Searcy
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, locations statewide
Art Don Marr, Conway
Backsplash, countertops, fixtures Third Generation Industries, Searcy
Faucet, sink TGI Quartz & Granite, Searcy
Flooring White River Flooring, Searcy
“I guess we’re just colorful people,” Anita Sipe says with a laugh. “We like our house to look bright and happy, and we’ve never been afraid of using color, since paint is one of the easiest things to change.”
As owners of Blann Hardware in Camden, Anita and her husband, Brent, know a thing or two about renovations and paint. So when they purchased a home with a dark, outdated kitchen—from the small island to the almond-colored appliances and the boxed florescent light fixtures overhead—the couple immediately began making plans for remodeling.
They gutted the kitchen and an adjacent breakfast room, rebuilding the area into one open space with cooking functions on one end, expansive banquette seating on the other, and a tiered island for food prep and counter seating in between.
For inspiration for the room’s color palette and style, Anita needed to look no further than her dinnerware. A longtime collector of Fiesta ware, the colorful china known for its bold hues, Anita has amassed nearly 40 place settings. To showcase the china’s lively mix of greens, oranges, blues and yellows, she opted for light-colored maple cabinetry, Cambria quartz countertops and porcelain tile floors. From that neutral base, she then layered on color in Fiesta ware-inspired shades.
Here’s how she pulled the look together:
1. A mosaic glass tile backsplash mixes multiple shades of orange and cream, establishing the room’s color palette.
2. Rich coppery-orange walls and a golden ceiling complement the tile backsplash. On the banquette, a modern print fabric expands the color range by adding in blue and brown.
3. Streamlined maple cabinetry features clear glass-inset doors in focal areas that display collections, and translucent glass in storage areas.
4. A drum shade light fixture above the banquette, pendant lights above the island, and woven window shades blend together orange and gold tones.
Contractor, banquette fabrication, cabinetry Burroughs Construction, Camden
Appliances Sears, locations statewide
Countertop Custom Floors & Design Center, Camden
Fabrics, window shades Larry’s Inc., Little Rock
Hardware, fixtures, table inset Blann Hardware, Camden
Paint Benjamin Moore, Valspar, locations statewide
Pottery Miller’s Mud Mill Pottery, Dumas; Quicksilver Art & Fine Craft Gallery, Eureka Springs
Tile Elder Distributing, North Little Rock
“Cottage style translates as cozy to me,” says designer Cynthia Smiley, who used painted cabinetry, wood floors and beadboard accents to add time-tested charm to the kitchen in the newly built Fayetteville home she shares with her husband, Dennis, and their two children.
Abundant windows keep the room bright, complemented by white walls accented with clear glass tile and dark granite counters that create “a simple palette that bounces light around the room,” says Smiley. An additional benefit of this straightforward color pairing: “I can add any accent color, and it looks great,” she says. “It’s a wonderful backdrop, especially during the holidays.”
From Everyday to Holiday:
Designer Cynthia Smiley’s tips for a party-ready kitchen
Work with your color palette
Smiley chose a neutral palette of white, cream and pale blue as the basis for the kitchen: Sherwin-Williams’ Blue Hubbard, Calla and Midday. Then, she layered on multi-colored accents. “The green chairs at the breakfast table and the lamps flanking the sink are here year-round,” says Smiley. “From that base, I add red for the holidays, and from year to year I can change the shades or tones.”
Emphasize gathering places
A large island that accommodates bar stools on two sides and features a walnut countertop, handmade from vintage wood by Smiley’s father, is a favorite spot for informal meals. In an adjacent window alcove, built-in benches and a breakfast table create an additional eating area. Mindful of the adage that guests always congregate in the kitchen, Smiley has plenty of places to seat them.
Repurpose and reuse
Smiley invested in some holiday décor staples, such as silk ribbons, wreaths and a few seasonal pillows, which she stores and uses every year. The remainder of her décor comes from everyday items that she gives a festive twist—patterned red and green pillows are added to the seasonal ones, serving bowls hold clove-studded oranges and other colorful fruit, and glass canisters in various sizes and shapes are filled with candies and treats, becoming a focal point on the island. “Sparkling glass and shiny ornaments are always a part of my holiday decorations,” she adds.
Builder McMahon Brothers Construction, Fayetteville
Interior design Cynthia Smiley, Fayetteville
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, locations statewide
Backsplash, counters New Century Counter Tops & Tile, Springdale
Cabinets Collins Custom Cabinets, Lowell
Chairs, cabinet hardware Lighting Emporium, Springdale
Floor Wood Floor Gallery, Springdale
Island NWA Restaurant & Kitchen Supply, Springdale
Ottoman I.O. Metro, locations statewide
Paint Sherwin-Williams, locations statewide
Plumbing fixtures Ferguson Enterprises, Springdale
Shades Rogers Blind Company, Rogers
Wellness is not just a buzzword for Dr. David Lipschitz, a geriatrician, author and award-winning television host of programs on aging, and his wife, Dr. Francie Wilson, an otolaryngologist. Following the advice they give their patients to reduce stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle, they sought to create their own spa-like space in their inefficient master bathroom.
Once a sunroom adjacent to the master bedroom, the area had been converted to a bath by previous owners of the couple’s early 1900s-era home in Little Rock’s Hillcrest neighborhood. While the bones of the converted room appealed to the physicians—abundant windows, adequate space, and tile walls that blended with the historical style of the house—functionality was an issue, with little storage, an unused vanity seating area, and an outdated shower and tub.
The pair enlisted the help of designer Garry Mertins, seeking his advice for freshening up the room and creating a more soothing retreat. Mertins began with the color palette, creating a custom wall color to match the existing tile and cover the room in a tranquil shade. Keeping the molding and other architectural details of the space intact, he opted for a more modern built-in vanity with contemporary hardware and fixtures, including Lefroy Brooks square counter-mount basins. “Clean lines, elegant, not fussy or ornately detailed,” says Mertins. “That kind of straightforward and simplified look is soothing in its orderliness.”
Topping the vanity with travertine marble to match the existing floor kept a narrow color palette—another secret to a soothing space, notes Mertins—and he added a wall of mirrors above to reflect the soft shades of the walls and ceiling, enhancing the play of light through the space.
Reworking the existing shower with a seamless glass surround increased the room’s airiness, and removing a small bathtub and replacing it with a spa-like soaking tub provided the final means for rest and relaxation. “It’s the kind of room that is easy to decompress in now,” says Mertins. “Having a functional master bath that takes advantage of some of the features that are out there is an important way to take care of yourself.”
Professional Advice from Garry Mertins
You can find a soothing bathtub in a range of styles, and you don’t have to go top of the line to find a good product. Spa features can be wonderful, but straightforward soaking tubs, such as this one from Kohler with a built-in overflow edge so you can fill it to the top, are good choices as well. Older homes can’t always accommodate the added electrical needs of some models, and that’s an important consideration.
Interior design Garry Mertins Design, Little Rock
Contractor/cabinetry Distinctive Kitchens & Baths, Little Rock
Counter, tub surround Advanced Bath & Kitchen, Little Rock
Fixtures, tub Falk Plumbing Supply, Little Rock
Light fixtures Light Innovations, Light Rock
Paint Pratt & Lambert, locations statewide
After living in their West Little Rock home for nearly 10 years, Wayne and Clair Alley were ready for a new look in the most-used area of their home—a blended-space living room and kitchen. With two of their four children away at college, the couple knew the updates should be practical, encourage spending time together, and offer plenty of seating for friends and extended family. They turned to Little Rock-based designer Tobi Fairley to create a contemporary retreat. Here’s how she pulled the look together.
THE LIVING SPACE
1. Fairley began with a paisley print for the draperies and then selected coordinating patterns in similar colors to create a refreshing, serene environment. “I wanted the space to be an inviting and relaxing area with little visual noise,” she says.
2. Replacing the existing ceramic tile with traditional hardwoods grounded the design and unified the living area with the kitchen. A soft rug adds a cozy touch.
3. A loveseat and a sofa in coordinating hues invite the family to relax with the Sunday paper or share the details of the day. A pair of blue swivel chairs turns to face the TV or the conversation area—depending on where the action is happening.
4. A crisp khaki color (Sherwin-Williams’ Relaxed Khaki 6149; trim is Sherwin-Williams’ Panda White 6147) covers the walls and serves as a neutral backdrop for the fabric and furnishings in varying shades of blue and green.
5. No piece is more versatile than the mobile ottoman, which serves as a coffee table (thanks to a tray insert), footrest and extra seating for large gatherings.
6. Removing a bulky entertainment center opened up space for additional seating. Relocating the television to the other end of the room kept the conversation area free of distractions.
THE WORK ZONE
1. A custom banquette, built by Winfield Cabinets, eliminated the need for a large, formal dining table and builds on the relaxed feel of the rooms. “The kids always fight over who gets to sit in the booth,” says Clair.
2. Fairley added a row of glass-front cabinets to the top of existing wall units to heighten the visual appeal and provide additional storage. Keeping some of the existing cabinetry and many of the appliances netted budget savings.
3. Glazed ceramic tiles from Walker Zanger updated the backsplash and added a touch of polished sheen to the décor.
4. The one change to the layout was removing an awkwardly shaped island in favor of a rectangular, symmetrical version. This created a better traffic flow and gave the Alleys more counter space.
5. Fairley swapped dated fixtures for large, contemporary drum shade pendants.
THE COMMAND CENTER
Fairley had the cabinetry around the desk area enhanced to create a larger workspace as well as additional pantry and storage areas. Adding glass doors dressed up the open shelves. (Cabinetry base color is Sherwin-Williams’ Wool Skein 6148, plus a faux-finish glaze.)
Interior design Tobi Fairley Interior Design, Little Rock
Banquette Howard’s Upholstery Shop, Little Rock
Cabinetry glaze Janet Canalichio, Little Rock
Cabinetry renovation Winfield Cabinets, Benton
Countertops Arkansas Stone Importers, Little Rock
Floors Foster Attison Flooring, North Little Rock
Tile Knoedl Tile Company, Little Rock
Window treatments Mountjoy’s Custom Draperies, Mabelvale
At Home in Arkansas:
The adage that a picture says a thousand words definitely applies to the before-and-after photos of this kitchen. I can see that the layout of the room is the same, but the transformation from dark and traditional to light and modern is dramatic.
Designer Susan Latta:
I’m finding that many of my clients want to go that direction, with less clutter, more calm, cleaner lines, subtle shades, and an orderly, easy-to-clean space.
AHIA: Was that the case for these homeowners?
SL: Yes, that was a top priority. My clients, Dennis and Marcia Davis, were newlyweds and emptynesters when I began working with them. Marcia had moved into Dennis’ house in Rogers, and they wanted to redesign the kitchen to be more open, orderly and functional.
AHIA: What were some of the issues they were having with functionality?
SL: They both like to cook wonderful gourmet meals and they’re wine connoisseurs. They enjoy having friends and family over and cooking and entertaining. But when they cooked together, they kept bumping into each other, and the space felt very inefficient.
We all know guests always congregate in the kitchen, which the peninsula discouraged. And aesthetically, the Davises felt that the dark cabinetry, dark trim, and dark floors didn’t create the atmosphere they had in mind for entertaining.
AHIA: How did you manage to make the room feel so much larger without adding to the space?
SL: We took the entire peninsula out so that the kitchen is totally open to the breakfast space, and we removed portions of walls separating the kitchen from the living room so there’s more light entering the area and a better flow for guests. We also lengthened the kitchen by accessing several feet of unused space under a stairway. Those few moves gained enough additional room to create more functional work zones.
The reconfiguring made it necessary for us to replace the cabinetry, and I extended the new cabinets all the way to the ceiling. That creates a cleaner look—if the cabinets stop short of the ceiling, people think they need to decorate up there. I used a dark band of trim at the top of the cabinets, and that draws your eye up, which enhances the sense of openness.
AHIA: The light color palette you chose also adds to the spacious look.
SL: It does, and when they showed me some magazine images of rooms they liked, I could see that they were interested in light cabinetry with rich accents, like the glass mosaic tile we chose for the backsplash.
We used book-matched maple cabinets with a light finish—they were meant to look like bleached wood. We lightened up the walls and painted the crown molding in the breakfast room the same color as the walls to create a neutral backdrop. Same for the floors: we took them from dark to a light neutral by painting the pavers with a durable finish.
AHIA: Are the two cooks now able to work together in the kitchen without bumping into each other?
SL: Designing the room to incorporate two sinks was a key element in solving that issue. We added a sink on the island and created a prep zone, so Marcia can be chopping vegetables while Dennis is cooking on the range. The improved flow makes this a virtually bump-free kitchen now.
Design Susan Latta, CKD, CBD, CGP, Susan Latta Design, Fayetteville
Contractor Precision Custom Building, Inc., Bella Vista
Appliances Metro Appliances & More, locations statewide
Barstools Brashears, Springdale
Cabinet hardware Hearth & Home, Lowell
Dining table, chairs Lacuna Modern Interiors, Fayetteville
Lighting Lewis Lighting & Home, Benton
Painted finishes-cabinetry, floor Johannessen Painting, Springdale
Plumbing fixtures, sinks Plumb Perfect, Springdale
Tile-backsplash, fireplace surround Deco Pro, Fayetteville
Scott Paterek and Rus Venable of Massimo Interiors help Dr. Jake and Cheryl Jaquiss create an open, stylish kitchen and master bath
At Home in Arkansas: This kitchen and bathroom seem so organized and efficient, and those big windows make the areas extra bright. What were the rooms like before you began the renovation?
Scott Paterek of Massimo: The opposite of that! It’s a 1980s house, and the rooms were more formal and closed off.
Rus Venable of Massimo: The open kitchen you see now was once three separate rooms: a cooking area, a breakfast room and a bathroom.…
The Goal: Create an efficient kitchen that’s welcoming and attractive within an open great room setting, and includes cooking and work zones, ample storage, plus seating for a family of five.
What they did:
The Baileys brought kitchen designer Susan Latta into the project at the blueprint stage—a critical element, says Latta, in ensuring that “the homeowners, builder and construction team have the same vision for the space before it is actually built.”
The floor plan the Baileys chose involved the kitchen flowing into an open family room with large French Country-style ceiling beams and a fireplace. Latta helped unify the two areas by creating an island that projects into the family room and offers counter seating. “The space and square footage lent itself to an unusual shape,” says Latta, who specified painting the island base as a focal point and staining the remainder of the cabinetry to tie in with the family room ceiling beams.
The biggest challenge:
Integrating attractive yet hard-working cooking and prep areas within a medium-sized open kitchen. Latta created two main work zones: one along the room’s back wall that includes the refrigerator, sink, range and pantry, and another on the side wall, featuring storage and display space plus a wet bar sink. Architectural details and artistic elements, such as metal corbels added alongside the range hood and a custom-made glass door for the pantry, help the kitchen blend with the overall style of the great room.
Their favorite part:
The open island with the raised countertop. “Most days, the kids sit there and begin homework, while I’m at the other side of the island prepping and cooking,” says Leslie. “I love that we’re all together.”
What the judges loved:
The multi-purpose island was a hit with Tobi Fairley, who could envision how well this design would work for a family with three kids. Beth Davis appreciated the room’s artistic touches, from interesting cabinet hardware to the glass pane in the pantry door to the intriguing pendant light over the wet bar.
Kitchen Design Susan Latta Designs, Fayetteville
Builder Nall Custom Homes, Springdale
Appliances Metro Builders Supply, Springdale
Banquette seating Interior Fabrics & Design, Fayetteville
Barstools, pillows I.O. Metro, locations statewide
Cabinet hardware Lighting Emporium, Springdale
Countertops Artistic Tile, Marble and Granite, Springdale
Faucets J&B Supply Inc., Springdale
Flooring Dramis Hardwood Floors, Fayetteville
Light fixtures Cobblestone & Vine, Little Rock; Lighting Emporium, Springdale
Paint Pratt & Lambert Paints, locations statewide
Tile Townzen Tile & Laminates, Springdale