IN PLAIN VIEW
You can see it peeking through the pines. As you turn off Pinnacle Valley Road, winding up the hillside to the top of the ridge, it starts to reveal itself: a sweeping view of the River Valley below, and Pinnacle Mountain beyond. Up and up and up you climb, pinching yourself that you’re still in Little Rock and not, like, in the Sierras.
That sounds like an exaggeration. It’s not.
It was the view that sold homeowners Kevin and Dana Compton on the lot, and the view that dictated every aspect of the home’s design, says architect Burt Taggart Sr. (Well, that and the lot’s 200-foot drop, he’ll tell you with a grin.) The Comptons’ only requirement? “A curved roof,” Dana says, casting a glance up at the barrel vault ceiling, some 16 feet above. To her right, silent behind a floor-to-ceiling wall of glass, a 20-foot waterfall cascades down sculptural rectangles of concrete and stone; to her left, the snaking spine of the Arkansas River and rolling green hills far as the eye can see.
Walking through the space, through the airy open-concept main floor and down the stairs to the darker, moodier family room and guest quarters, your eye is continually drawn to those hills, or to that water feature out front. In each room, the view is the first thing noticed, thanks in no small part to the minimalist palette and carefully considered furnishings chosen by Burt’s daughter, interior designer Whitney Phelps. It was the first project the two had worked on together, and their collaboration shows—the interior finishes pick up where the bones of the place leave off, and both work in concert to bring the outdoors in. The palette is creams and grays and honey-toned woods, but green surrounds you, a blanket of color.
“It’s not something that says, Take a look at me,” Burt says of the design as he stands near the wall of windows, arms crossed across his chest, taking it all in. “But when you’re in the space, things that didn’t stand out begin to start standing out. It’s not like it doesn’t have a lot going on—it’s just that it’s not screaming at you. It’s quiet.”
“The idea was to use a limited material palette, because what we were trying to do was create this seamless kind of environment,” Burt says of the main level, which includes the master suite and an open-concept living/dining/kitchen space. Sculptural forms—the curved ceiling, the faux-concrete fireplace—play off the space’s spareness, as do the curated furnishings. A handful of eye-catching signature pieces, such as the Pierre Paulin ribbon chair and the onyx geode dining table, catch the eye without taking away from the focal point: the view. In the kitchen, riff-cut oak cabinets and minimalist quartz counters were chosen, as Burt says, for their “quietness.”
The limited material palette continues in the master suite, where elements from the exterior work their way inside, as with the sustainably sourced red grandis wood in the bathroom. The riff-cut oak carries over from the kitchen into the bathroom and even onto the master bed, which Burt designed specifically for the space. Grays and whites were chosen for the linens and furnishings so as not to interrupt the flow or distract from the view. “I was so wanting to respect my dad’s architecture,” Whitney says. “I wanted it to be pretty, but be a complement to nature.”
“Both the waterfall and the view take on a different feel 10 feet down,” Burt says, referring to the lower level’s family room and guest suites. It’s a darker, moodier space, one that enjoys a sweeping view of the water feature. The family room also functions as a movie room, with an attached wet bar and room-darkening shades. Windows in both guest rooms frame the valley views. “We captured every view we could,” Burt says.
(reprinted from Arkansas Life issue October 2017)