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Beautiful Blue Kitchen in Arkansas

Whisper-soft color and thoughtful design elements cloak a hardworking kitchen in graceful elegance

Written by Sally Finder Weepie
  • Nancy Nolan

    Who says you can’t have it all? It is possible, at least in Deborah Roberts’s Little Rock kitchen. Deborah dreamed of a high-functioning cook’s kitchen. Getting dinner on the table every night for a family of six demands it. But she and husband Mike also entertain often—so Deborah yearned as well for a kitchen that looked good even as it was making her life more efficient.

    To get that perfect combination, Deborah found the perfect design partner—her sister, interior designer Kimberly Harper.

    A U-shape layout with appliances and fixtures organized by function makes working in this Little Rock kitchen a dream for Deborah Roberts. Guests who congregate at the center island savor gorgeous design touches and a pretty palette. Custom blues are set off by walls in “Gray Mist” and trim in “White Dove” by Benjamin Moore. 

    Photography: Nancy Nolan
    Produced by Donna Talley

    Architect: Terry Parker, Parker & Assoc. Architects, 100 W. Center St., Suite 103, Fayetteville, AR 72701; 479/443-2030,
    Interior designer: Kimberly Harper, Harper Howey Interiors, 4306 S. Thompson, Springdale, AR 72764; 479/790-4999,
    Contractor: Jack Hartsell Construction, 319 Gill St., Little Rock, AR 72205; 501/376-2871,  

    Wall paint (“Gray Mist” #OC-30); trim paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore,
    Ceiling and cabinet paint: custom color.
    Cabinetryoven hood (cast stone): custom.
    Cabinetry hardware (discontinued): Emtek,
    Marble countertops (“Mountain White Danby”): Vermont Quarries,
    Backsplash (“Tribeca Brick Field Tile”/Classic White, honed, 2x4 inches); backsplash behind range (“Tribeca Field Basketweave with Dot”/Classic White, honed): Walker Zanger,
    Flooring (Rift & Quarter Sawn, 8-inch Plank):white oak, custom stain.
    Windows (custom, wood, double-hung): Jeld-Wen Windows & Doors,
    Apron sink (“Blanco Magnum Large Single  Bowl Undermount Kitchen Sink with Apron”#501-113-A); prep sink (“Blancorondo Bar Sink” #500-336): Blanco, Available through
    Main faucet (model discontinued); prep faucet (“Astaire”/Satin Nickel #1668-155): Newport Brass,
    Ovens (model discontinued); warming drawer (model discontinued); dishwasher (“44 dBA Dishwasher with Panel-Ready Design” #KDTM0504EPA); ice maker: KitchenAid,
    Dishwasher drawer (“Panel Ready DishDrawer Tall Double Dishwasher” #DD24DHT17): Fisher & Paykel,
    Rangetop (“5 Series Gas Rangetop” #VGRT): Viking,
    Refrigerator (“36-inch Built-In Refrigerator Panel Ready” #BI-36R/0); under-counter freezer drawers: Sub-Zero,
    Microwave (“Microwave Drawer” #KB-6524PS): Sharp,
    Chandeliers (custom, for similar, “Mollie”): Julie Neill Designs,
    Counter stools (custom): Cache River Mill & Metal Works,
    Seat fabric (“Polka”/Pebble Neutral #130689, Momentum 3 Collection by Harlequin): Zoffany,
    Accessories: Harper Howey Interiors,
    Large vases on either side of sink window (by local artist): Tipton & Hurst,  

  • Nancy Nolan

    Natural Light

    “The biggest challenge,” Harper says, “is Deborah wanted a view.” She got it, courtesy of tall triple windows on the sink wall that bathe the spacious kitchen in natural light and allow Deborah to keep an eye on her young daughter when she’s outside on the swing set or playing with the dogs.

    A stainless-steel apron-front sink from Blanco sits at the heart of the cleanup zone, which includes both a full-size dishwasher and a dishwasher drawer. 

  • Nancy Nolan

    Double Ovens

    The flip side to the great view is less space for upper cabinetry. But Harper compensated in style, using every inch of the opposite wall, which she filled with a soaring expanse of crown molding-capped custom cabinets, painted in soft blue.

    KitchenAid ovens stack over a warming drawer, where dinner stays hot when the kids are a little late. Calacatta marble is used on both counters and backsplash. 

  • Nancy Nolan

    Integrated Appliances

    Paneled doors on the cabinet wall also conceal a full-size refrigerator and a pair of freezer drawers, creating a cold-storage area that forms one of the kitchen’s several smart work zones.

    A spacious Sub-Zero refrigerator is disguised by a stately panel that matches the cabinetry. 

  • Nancy Nolan

    Just Chill

    Ben & Jerry’s, anyone? Freezer drawers put treats in a spot that’s convenient for the kids but not in the way of after-dinner cleanup. A sculptural niche provides display space that breaks up the run of cabinetry.

  • Nancy Nolan

    Now You See It

    “Kimberly was so helpful with organization,” Deborah says. “She planned out little stations—for cooking, for baking, for washing vegetables, for cleanup. It makes the kitchen work so well.”

    Deborah’s mixer stands ever-ready for action, but whenever it’s not in use, it easily tucks out of sight behind the lift-up door of this appliance garage. An outlet built into the cabinet keeps baking adventures powered up.

  • Nancy Nolan

    Spice of Life

    Slim racks beside the cooktop stow oils and spices. Drawers under the cooktop house pots and pans. An appliance garage hides Deborah’s stand mixer. Pullout shelves in the island reveal pitchers and glassware. Glass-front cabinets capping the window wall add lightness and sparkle while keeping everyday dishware at hand. “Everything has a place,” Deborah says. “That makes my life easier.”

    A slim pullout rack keeps spices and oils at hand so there’s no searching for ingredients—and assures Deborah doesn’t have to step away from the rangetop when she’s in the middle of whipping up her latest culinary creation.

  • Nancy Nolan

    Party Ready

    Slide-out shelves under the bar sink stow items for entertaining, like pitchers and other serveware. This station, away from the main sink, makes it easy for guests at the island to help themselves to a cool beverage.

  • Nancy Nolan

    Beautiful Kitchen

    Along with all that function, the kitchen also delivers plenty of beauty. Hand-crafted chandeliers by New Orleans artisan Julie Neill light the island. A custom cast-stone hood gracefully crowns the cooktop. And expanses of gleaming marble top the cabinets and island.

    “Marble countertops were the first thing on my list,” Deborah says. “I went to Memphis to see the marble and its veining in person rather than just rely on photos. It was like buying a piece of art.”

    The white marble pops against a backdrop of ethereal blue. “Deborah wanted blue,” her sister says. “We went with soft blue on the cabinets and a blue that’s two shades darker on the ceiling. It really makes the space feel light and airy.”

    The Viking rangetop teams with a cast-stone hood and Walker Zanger basket-weave tile backsplash. 

  • Nancy Nolan

    Attention to Detail

    Careful details bring the final, jewelry-like layer to the well-dressed space. X-motifs on the island base and on glass-front cabinets are echoed by the design of custom bar stools. Oversize hardware that balances the size of the space interjects subtle shimmer.

    “Kimberly took all my big-picture ideas and figured out the details to give me the kitchen I really wanted,” Deborah says. “It was so fun to work with her.”

    Her sister agrees. “It was fun,” she says. “I loved being able to pull all the pieces together for Deborah. It was amazing to do something that meant so much to her.” 

  • Andreas Trautmansdorff