THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Twenty-one years ago, Jeff and Lori Standridge bought a piece of land in what was then far-west Conway, built a house in which to raise their two daughters, and invested themselves in creating a safe and happy place to live.
More recently, they have once again invested in this property by extending their living space to the outdoors and creating a comfortable place that the next generation of Standridges will want to call home.
“We built this house when the girls were 3 and 1. They’re 24 and 22 now,” Jeff said recently. Upon becoming empty nesters, Jeff and Lori discussed options to sell and build in a new place, or sell and buy a new house. They quickly decided to stay put on Chrysler Cove for two main reasons – their daughters Katie and Anna. “The girls said this is their home, and where they want to bring their kids when they decide to get married.”
Their recent vision for extending their living space included a two-level design with extra dining and extra seating for entertaining. The project started in late summer of 2014, and was finished in June 2015.
The design of the extended living area was centered on the fact that the home had three roof lines in the back. Therefore, it was decided to connect the roof lines by extending outward from the master bath and constructing a pergola outside the kitchen to connect the areas together.
Activities held in the new outdoor area so far have included family get togethers, birthday parties, crawfish boils, bible studies, work parties, a wedding, and a retirement party for Jeff’s mother. “We love to entertain, love to have friends over, love to have family here,” Lori said. Jeff added: “The neighbors use it when we’re not here. Our kids love it out here.”
There is plenty of seating space on both levels. A large wrap around couch and a couple of chairs are included, in addition to a dining table. The cut stone pillars around the exterior of the new space are of different heights, and can be used for extra seating – plus, the kids like to climb around on them, Jeff said. When larger parties are held, card tables can be added to the mix for more seating. Because of the installation of heaters, a massive fireplace and ceiling fans, the space can be used all year round.
Erik Menzie “was the visionary” on the wood and structure. David Grant of Grant’s Cabinets and Millwork constructed the cabinets. Cullum Brothers did the rock work. Brett Battles with The Plant Outlet was in charge of landscaping. “They all outdid themselves,” Jeff said.
Jeff said Lori had a lot of influence on the vision, working closely with the contractors. The dining area in particular has a lot of Lori’s vision included. One of their favorite pieces is a beautiful wooden light fixture that hangs above their round dining table. This rectangular fixture was constructed from scrap trusses from the rafters, and includes hanging Edison bulbs. “Lori showed the contractor some sketches, he took them home and then it was ‘oh, my Lord,’ it was perfect. It was her vision and his construction,” Jeff said.
A focal is the large rock and brick fireplace. Jeff said most fireplaces are built from kits these days. Their contractors, however, listened to what Jeff and Lori wanted, looked at sketches, and built it custom to fit the space. Jeff said he particularly asked for wood boxes on the sides and room for a television on the top. It is the perfect backdrop for watching football games or movies with friends and family.
Materials used throughout the space include corrugated fiberglass and a decorative sunscreen fabric on the roof of the pergola; light Douglas fir in the living space; thick 10X10 posts specially milled in Oklahoma, used in conjunction with the 400- and 500-pound stone slabs quarried and cut in Marshall, Arkansas; and Spanish cedar cabinets in the kitchen area. Lori said she was originally concerned about how the rock, brick and wood – all of differing textures – would mesh. Together, however, the textures have created an inviting feeling to this outdoor space.
For the dining area, Lori had originally envisioned a long farm table that could seat 8 or 10 people, with a round lighting fixture above it. After searching high and low for a table, nothing was just right. Then, Jeff’s mother happened upon a moving sale in Conway while Jeff and Lori were in Florida. At the sale, there was a unique, vintage table that would seat enough people. The problem? It was round! After long distance viewing and negotiations, the table was purchased and miraculously fit the space – “it was almost custom,” she said. “With the long light fixture, a long farm table would have been too much.”
Because the grill and smoker were already in place just off the kitchen, they decided not to create a full outdoor cooking area. Instead, they have a long counter top of poured and stained concrete that is used for a buffet line, plus an ice maker and refrigerator.
Lori added that her favorite way to spend time in their new living space is in front of the fire, snuggled under a blanket, watching television or a movie with Jeff, the girls and their boyfriends. “We’ve watched lots of football and spent lots of family time,” she said.
In 1995, the Standridges were some of the first in the neighborhood. They built with more space than was needed, and didn’t finish the upstairs right away. When the girls got older, they moved upstairs, and a TV room was also created.
“We decided (in 2014) that we would just invest in this place, like we did when we originally bought the lot. We cleared this lot ourselves. It was covered in cedar trees,” Jeff said. Lori added that their back yard had a barbed wire fence, and the neighbors’ cows would poke their head through fence.
From the reconstructed truss timber light fixture to the fireplace to Lori’s special “king toad” potted plant mascot, this new space is all custom built in Standridge style. Just like Jeff and Lori, it is inviting, welcoming and open to the world.
“The project took longer than we expected, but the end result is something we never could have expected,” Jeff said.