Heber Springs had been Dave and Jan Allmendinger’s home away from home for nearly 25 years. To accommodate their growing brood of grandkids, as well as friends, it became apparent that they needed more space than their Eden Isle condo could provide. “Dave had taken up fly fishing on the Little Red River,” Jan says, “and he would go every weekend in all kinds of weather.” Eventually Dave convinced Jan to visit the river with him. “When I got on that river and saw Sugar Loaf Mountain, I was hooked,” she says. “It was one of the most beautiful, peaceful spots I have ever seen, just breathtaking.”
Dave and Jan searched diligently for the perfect home with the perfect view, eventually purchasing two undeveloped lots in a gated community. “Build was a scary word to me,” Jan admits, but thankfully the entire family pitched in. “The home was built with one constant thought process,” Dave says. “We wanted a place where our family and friends could relax, be themselves, nurture relationships and begin to fall in love with the outdoors.”
Jan’s and Dave’s daughter, Krista Lewis, also played a major role in the home’s design. After graduating with an interior design degree at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Krista relocated to Louisiana with her husband Dan. “We had made many trips to visit her,” Jan says, “and we had come to love the style of the area’s homes. There were lots of porches, tall ceilings and open spaces, yet so many nooks and crannies. It was a casual graciousness to me.”
The Allmendingers enlisted the help of an architect in Baton Rouge to put their plan for a primitive-style Acadian cottage down on paper, and Gary Xiques of Birdsong Builders took on the construction. Rather fortuitously, during this time, Krista and her family moved to Little Rock, and she was enlisted to put her expertise to work. “From planning the kitchen window view of Sugar Loaf Mountain to orienting the house on the property, Krista and Jan have been the leaders,” Dave says. “I was told I could be in charge of the dock and the deck. That was it. I did get my outdoor kitchen and fire pit, and naturally the dock was completed long before the house.”
Details give the home an Acadian feeling, from plank pine and brick floors to French doors with transoms, beamed ceilings and thick mouldings. Additonally, Krista and her parents took plenty of time selecting the perfect plumbing fixtures, floor materials and fabrics for each room. “My favorite is a copper sink that we found in Baton Rouge now used in the powder room,” says Krista. The selection of iron lighting fixtures also reflects the rustic French Country-style that runs throughout.
Krista personalized the home with her parents’ accessories and artwork, even framing some of her dad’s childhood puzzles and botanical prints to place on the walls of the upstairs media room. Making the indoors and outdoors work together was also key. “The backyard and the views were the main priority,” Krista says. The raised front porches were constructed on a foundation of brick piers with large rough-hewn beams overhead holding up a hipped roof. Large gallery porches in the front and back of the house provide the perfect place for taking in the views of Sugar Loaf Mountain and the river. “The entire back of the house is basically a wall of windows,” Krista says. “When you’re sitting in the living room, it almost feels like a tree house thanks to the bird’s eye view.” The completed home can sleep 18, assuring space for friends and family with special features, such as the window seat in the first floor family room, which can be used as seating for a dining table that folds out. “We want people to come and enjoy this wonderful place with us,” says Jan.