Charisma and charm abound in a builder’s self-designed Arkansas home with eclectic style.

By Mallory Abreu
January 03, 2019

To build a house that encapsulates Chris and Christy Milligan’s personalities is a tall order—and one that requires channeling the whimsy at the heart of their characters. And who better to take on the challenge than Chris himself? With years of designing and building custom homes in his back pocket, Chris was more than prepared when he, Christy, and their son moved from South Carolina to Little Rock to be closer to family.

“Everybody’s home should reflect who they are,” Chris says. “Christy and I are a little more funky—we have an eclectic taste, and I wanted our home to embody that as well. I wanted the house to be an experience—not just a house—that was warm, unique, and had a personality as big as ours.”

Chris wanted to give traditional building materials like brick, stucco, and Yellow Balau hardwood a new life, so he combined them in an eclectic fashion. The result is a beautiful combination that emphasizes the family's style and showcases the creativity of using mixed materials.

The quirkiness is clear from the get-go—from the sunshine yellow of the front door to the playful mix of the whitewashed brick, stucco, and richly stained hardwood of the home’s exterior. Chris’s manner of recontextualizing traditional materials by mixing them in unexpected ways continues throughout the home.

The home is an amalgamation of vignettes showcasing adventure, joy, and a love of gathering—and the back porch epitomizes this spirit. Adorned with string lights, a fireplace, and room for all, the back porch is where you'll find the Milligans playing board games, swinging, and even hosting local bands to play for friends. The patio’s table was made for Chris’s father by a friend who went diving in Pearl Harbor and salvaged a ship’s door—which he turned into a tabletop.

The living room speaks to Chris’s design philosophy—to salvage items wherever he can. “I love using reclaimed materials,” he says. “Anything that can work its way back into a house adds character and stories.” The ceiling beams are an example of that, being reclaimed from a turkey barn in southern Pennsylvania, while wooden molds used to form train valves flank a vintage poster.

The music room is the real heart of the home. “I play guitar and mandolin, Christy plays piano, and my son takes piano as well,” Chris says. “The reverb in that space is amazing.” The instruments that hang on the walls are passed down from family members or were found at pawn shops.

Chris and his father first spotted the leopard-print beauty salon chair on a front porch in Texas. The original owner told them that if they had a way to transport it, it was all theirs—so they hauled it back home without a second thought. It now serves as seating under the wood staircase near the home's bar and wine refrigerator.

Chris built the dining room table from wood he salvaged from Christy’s grandmother’s house after she passed away. “We wanted to have something that reminded us of her, that wasn’t just a dish or a picture,” he says. The lighting over the table is funky and unique, and the stained glass window adds a lot of character and color to the dining room.

The Milligans—especially Christy—are serious in the kitchen. Restaurant-grade stainless-steel countertops provide easy-to-clean surfaces that will endure wear and tear with elegance. Chris also used reclaimed wood to construct the island’s base so the material will only acquire more character as his family uses the kitchen.

Rustic brick and weathered wood ensure nothing is too precious in a kitchen that does endure so much wear and tear, while industrial pendants give the kitchen a loftlike feel. There is also a hardworking pantry to the right of the kitchen that houses a coffee bar and stores food and bakeware to keep the main area uncluttered.

Chris used old fence posts from Christy’s grandmother’s house to design the headboard in the master bedroom. By incorporating reclaimed wood into one or two accent pieces in the room, it gives the space an architectural interest and provides a warm focal point without making the whole space rustic.


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