This Arkansas home combines the best of rural life and city living
Tyler Hill and Michael Mitchell had a difficult job on their hands when they took on the renovation of a three-bedroom property for two of their long-standing clients. The duo were charged with the task of retaining the footprint of the house, while scooping out the insides of the building and devising an entirely new layout. How would they create the illusion of space without actually altering the size of the plot? And, given the diminutive proportions internally, how would they conjure up the grand and spacious interior its owners craved?
The American interior designers (Hill is Texan, while Mitchell hails from South Carolina) like to play with proportion. It’s a calling card for Stateside designers and one that sets them apart from their British counterparts. The ability to ‘supersize’ is not confined to the drive-thru; it can be seen in homes all over the States, from Brooklyn brownstones to Southern pillared properties with wraparound porches. Going large doesn’t just give an air of confidence, it also helps to draw attention to key areas or provide a focal point. At this house in Arkansas, it has been added to the playful mix of art and colour, combined with bespoke pieces designed by Mitchell Hill, to rejuvenate the interior.
The centre of Bentonville in Arkansas is midway between a typical all-American town and an up-and-coming hotspot where gentrification is drawing young professionals and new businesses. The leafy central square beside the town hall is reminiscent of the spot where Tom Hanks settles down to deliver his monologue in Forrest Gump, and the town, home to the original Walmart, has a museum where visitors can experience a traditional soda fountain café. But Bentonville also has a burgeoning cultural scene that is encouraging locals to leave the suburbs and move closer to the city centre.
“People are selling their homes and buying smaller bungalows, remodelling them and moving downtown,” says Mitchell. New restaurants, boutique stores and the recently opened Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has given the place a real buzz.
The owners of this house were downsizing now that their children had grown up. They wanted to be able to accommodate visiting grandchildren, but without sacrificing their home’s sense of sophistication and maturity. “They emailed us to say, ‘We’ve bought this small house and we’re in over our heads. Would you be willing to help?’ We jumped at the chance.” Mitchell and Hill, who’d worked with the couple on their previous home in Charleston, South Carolina, started by drawing up plans to address the internal layout.
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Photography Nancy Nolan
Words Catherine Coyle