Good as new

Two Little Rock kitchens stuck in a previous century get a new lease on life thanks to these clever renovations
The front face of the island consists of a series of touch-latch paneled cabinets to store seldom-used appliances. | To add a touch of warmth, a hardworking butcher-block top was screwed into the quartz counters on the island. | A coffee bar tucked to the side of the kitchen offers more work space and storage. | Mocha-hued veneer serves as a nice contrast to the otherwise black-and-white color palette. | Asymmetric mocha shelves installed into the wall of glass subway tiles offset the kitchen’s linear aesthetic.

Everything in its place

Bill Wrape and Alissa Oates, the Distinctive Kitchens & Baths design duo behind this modern-meets-rustic space, could probably whip up Thanksgiving dinner in their client’s kitchen without batting an eye. Rubbed sage? Top drawer in the island. Turkey baster? Next drawer over. Roasting pan? Try the touch-latch cabinet at the top of the storage wall, where the seasonal items are tucked away. Vitamix blender? Over in the coffee bar with the other countertop appliances.

rp_arlife_160908_5557aThey know, because “every fork, every Tupperware lid” in this kitchen was deliberately placed, says Alissa. Scratch that—every cabinet, every drawer, every square inch of storage (and there’s a whole lotta storage in this 350-square-foot space) was chosen with a function in mind. Because when you make three meals a day at home (as this client most definitely does), your home’s gotta work.

Not that the rest of the home—a light-filled 1960s contemporary overlooking the Arkansas River—wasn’t working. Even at 50-some years old, it still felt relevant and right. The kitchen, on the other hand, was still firmly entrenched in the mid-century. There was a shortage of seating and storage space, as well as an inefficient island with a strange cantilevered cooktop, which forced the chef to stare at a wall while doing her stirring and sauteing. That all had to go—but the architectural features, as well as the original slate floors, had to stay.

Working within the kitchen’s existing footprint, Alissa and Bill installed a rift-cut-oak-veneer wall of storage hued in mocha on the eastern side of the space, allowing for floor-to-ceiling functionality. The island got a much-needed overhaul, increasing seating from two to five, offering two-sided storage and refocusing the cooktop to take advantage of the home’s centerpiece: the view. A coffee bar wrapped around the far end of the workspace gave the client a place to prep smoothies and her daily ration of espresso, while top-notch appliances—an induction cooktop, Thermador panel-ready refrigeration columns—made this a true chef’s kitchen. To top it all off, white-paneled cabinetry with integrated, seamless hardware created a sleek, modern space that plays well with the rest of the home’s aesthetic, without feeling too “now.”

“It was all in the details,” says Alissa, pointing out the hefty walnut butcher block on the island, the glass subway tiles, the asymmetric shelving, the rustic pendants. “When we were just looking at samples on the table, I thought it might read too contemporary. But all together, it just works.” 



Designers: Bill Wrape and Alissa Oates, Distinctive Kitchens & Bath

Cabinets: Brookhaven by Wood-Mode (slab doors in Alpine White and Rift Cut Mocha)

Cabinet hardware: Atlas Homewares

Countertops: Caesarstone Organic White layered with walnut-plank oiled butcher block

Backsplash tile: Emser Lucente Glass in white

Sink: Blanco Quatrus Zero Radius

Faucet: Kohler Purist

Light fixture: Currey & Co.

Tried and True

This cabinet dates back to the home’s original kitchen, lending the updated space an air of authenticity. | A stainless-steel work table pulls double-duty as an informal dining space. | The mosaic tile floor was made using a technique that would have been used in the home’s early days. | Since his clients are avid cooks, Kevin chose durable granite for the counters. | A stacked washer/dryer is hidden behind these cabinets.

When your clients are “light and airy” people, which is precisely how Kevin Walsh describes clients David and Lila Ashmore, they’ve got no business being in a dark and dreary kitchen. The rest of the Ashmores’ Heights bungalow had been renovated to follow suit: classic finishes, open spaces, lots of light. But the kitchen? It needed some help.

“It was sort of a bittersweet color before—kind of orange-y and dark,” says Kevin (who—fun fact—used to own the home, and sold it to the Ashmores two and a half decades ago). And it was too small of space to stay orange-y and dark. So out went the old, with the exception of one cabinet, which was original to the 1930s home—and which Kevin had painstakingly stripped back when he owned the home.

“That was my only request, that we keep that cabinet,” Kevin says with a laugh. “And it’s funny, because it’s now so on-trend. It probably wasn’t the most functional —but it does lend itself to feeling a bit more organic.”

In the rest of the space, Kevin and his clients decided to “pay homage to what it should be, while still letting it have a more modern feel.” To accomplish that, they kept the finishes simple and classic to serve as reminders of the home’s origins, with a touch of industrial warmth. For the flooring, they went to the experts at American Restoration Tile, who designed and laid a mosaic floor using dies that would have been used in the early part of the 20th century. The old cabinets (with the exception of that one, of course) were replaced with inset Shaker-panel doors, which received a dose of shimmer with the addition of classic nickel cup pulls.

Since his clients love to cook and really use the kitchen, Kevin chose hard-working granite hued in cream, black and gray—a reflection of the room’s clean, minimalist palette.




But while the materials were easy to choose, the space layout proved to be somewhat difficult. “The room is probably, oh, 10-by-13?” says Kevin. “And we had to get laundry in this space, too. So getting everything in the room was a challenge: refrigerator, ice maker, dishwasher, range, washer and dryer, storage.” To accomplish flow in a cramped footprint, he turned to the guiding principle that informs all of his kitchen designs: balance. “Wherever I’m doing the refrigerator, I want something on the opposite side to kind of counterbalance things,” he explains. “I’m just really trying to keep the symmetry in the kitchen, so there’s something of equal scale on the other side to keep it balanced.”

In lieu of an island, which might have overwhelmed the space, Kevin sought out a stainless-steel work table that could also function as a breakfast table. He installed industrial pendants overhead, “so you had a place to work but didn’t have to worry about hitting your head.” Nearby, a pair of French doors was added to increase flow between the kitchen and the entertaining space on the couple’s back deck.

“It’d be a fun kitchen to cook in,” says Kevin, looking almost wistful that it wasn’t this way back when he still held the keys. “You know, it’s even just fun to be in.”


Floor: American Restoration Tile

Cabinets: J&S Cabinet Concepts

Granite: All Natural Stone, Inc.

Backsplash tile: Acme Brick, Tile & Stone

Plumbing fixtures: Falk Plumbing Supply

Appliances: Metro Appliances & More

Light fixtures and cabinet hardware: Restoration Hardware

Work table: The Conran Shop

Chairs: West Elm

Paint: Sherwin-Williams Dover White

Kitchen Aid

Ready to renovate? These central Arkansas professionals—all recommended by industry insiders—might just be the folks to call. (Note: If a business, firm or contractor isn’t listed here, that doesn’t mean they’re not up to the challenge. This is just a jumping-off point.)


Advanced Bath & Kitchen

1010 Jessie Road, Little Rock |; (501) 978-7225

Bath & Kitchen Gallery Remodelers

921 Rushing Circle, Little Rock | 666-1868

Distinctive Kitchens & Baths

1414 Rebsamen Park Road, Little Rock | 666-7756

Inside Effects

5050 Northshore Lane, North Little Rock | 954-8866

Kitchen & Bath Ideas

8800 Maumelle Blvd., North Little Rock | 812-0200

Kitchen & Bath Concepts

9805 W. Markham St., Little Rock | 225-5221


Falk Plumbing Supply

Multiple locations |; (501) 321-1231

Lumber One Home Center

682 Arkansas 365, Mayflower |; (501) 470-1122

Ray Lusk Plumbing

921 Rushing Cir., Little Rock |; (501) 664-0940

PC Hardware

Multiple locations |; (501) 707-0600


10400 Maumelle Blvd., North Little Rock |; (501) 791-9928

Southern Pipe & Supply Co.

Multiple locations |; (501) 779-3200

The Bath Shoppe

7322 Cock of the Walk Lane, Maumelle | (501) 753-0788

The Plumbing Warehouse

923 S. Fillmore St., Little Rock |; (501) 664-4183


A-1 Granite Man

7657 Counts Massie Road, Maumelle |; (501) 753-9696 or (501) 753-9695

Acme Brick, Tile & Stone

10921 Maumelle Blvd., North Little Rock | 812-5574

AHI Stoneworks

130 East Hwy 171, Hot Springs |; (501) 547-3545

Casa Blanca Granite

8124 (or 11421) Stagecoach Road, Little Rock |; (501) 744-0387

C&F Flooring

2206 Cantrell Road, Little Rock |; (501) 399-9909


9460 Maumelle Blvd., North Little Rock |; (501) 812-4800

Emser Tile

10068 Maumelle Blvd., North Little Rock |; (501) 771-9111

Arkansas Granite & More

18525 Interstate 30, Benton |; (501) 315-4500

The Countertop Store

9817 Maumelle Blvd., North Little Rock |; (501) 771-9200


Duke Custom Cabinets

18410 Beaver Creek Road, Roland | 868-8111

Grant’s Cabinets & Millwork

1335 Robins St., Conway |; (501) 472-2923

J&J Custom Cabinets

13511 Lawson Road, Little Rock | 766-1870

Moody Cabinets

18735 Interstate 30, Benton |; (501) 778-8500

Renaissance Cabinets

10901 MacAuther Drive, Conway |; (501) 256-3252


Rod Collins Architecture & Construction 303-4578

Creative Heights Partners 350-9807

Dwellings; (501) 831-0729

Bret Franks Construction; (501) 680-1238

Chuck Hamilton Construction 374-7173

Keith Hardin Construction; (501) 508-8778

Richard Harp Homes 690-4277

Jack Hartsell Construction 376-2871

Parkinson Building Group 954-8570


GW Lighting

1225 Military Road, Benton | 315-2400

Light Innovations

8316 W. Markham St., Little Rock | 223-9026

TEC Electric

Multiple locations |; (501) 758-5483


Metro Appliances & More

8800 Maumelle Blvd., North Little Rock |; (501) 758-1988