“TAKE A LOOK at the sketch above,” reads the opening line of Chris Olsen’s book Once & Again: The Revival of the Edgemont House. “Looks a bit like an illustration from a fairytale collection or a historical novel printed in the Twentieth Century, doesn’t it? That’s because, in a way, it is.”
That first chapter (“History”) gives an overview of the Edgemont’s early years: how it’d begun life as a spec home in North Little Rock’s Park Hill neighborhood, how it was designed by noted Little Rock architect Max Mayer, how its Spanish Colonial Revival style, while in vogue on the coasts, hadn’t found much favor in Arkansas. It’s only when the book elaborates on the Edgemont’s more recent history, however, that you really get the sense of how much of a fairy tale this place was—specifically, when you take a gander at the before and after photographs of the 2016 renovation.
Although there are some especially dramatic changes—the terra cotta terrace, the lines of English columnar oaks filing through the courtyard, and oh goodness, the landscaping—the mark Chris made on the property is something found largely in the mixing up of disparate design elements, or as he calls it, “jhemajang.” (In case you’re wondering about that etymology: The story goes that a producer once asked him, “What do you think you’re saying?”—and Chris responded by copyrighting the word.)
And the library? Peak jhemajang. Here, you’ll find navy-blue shelves and the orangest couch, and a blue-and-white marble fireplace surround that frames a gas log original to the house. It’s a quiet, reserved, out-of-the-way space where people tend to camp out for hours at a time. And though you might need to see it for yourself to really get the effect, somehow it just … works. You might even say it’s got some magic to it. You might even say it’s something from a fairy tale.
For more information—including how to rent the Edgemont House and how to purchase Chris’ book—visit theedgemonthouse.com.