By Nancy Peevy | Photos by Chadwick Turner

Sustainable, Modern and Inviting

This real estate couple built a home that will suit their family for years to come
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Sumer Brandon has seen a lot of houses in her 20 years in real estate.


After graduating from undergrad, Sumer moved back to her hometown of Dallas to get her master’s degree. Sumer’s grandmother advised her to get her real estate license to make a little money while she was in school. With her first house sale, Sumer was hooked.


“My first clients were first-time home buyers,” Sumer said. “I handed her the keys, and she started to well up. She said, ‘Thank you for making this happen for us.’ It still gives me goose bumps to talk about it. It just pulled at my heart strings. I was like, wow, I get to be part of their story, I get to help these people make one of the biggest decisions that is made in life. They’re putting their faith in me to help with that. It’s so meaningful. I love what I do.”


Sumer is the principal broker and co-founder, with husband Chris Brandon, of The Brandon Group in Bentonville.

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In 2018, after living in Bella Vista with their three children for about 12 years, the couple decided to build their own home. Long-term living, affordability and sustainability topped their list for their new home.


As Sumer began their search for land, Chris had definite requirements. “Chris grew up on a 100-acre dairy farm in Gravette,” Sumer said. “His requirements were that it has to have acreage, it has to have live water and it can’t be expensive. I’ve been a real estate broker for over 20 years, and I told him, you want me to find a unicorn. You’re out of your mind!”


Finally, Sumer found 10 acres in Gravette for just $10,000 an acre. “When I came across this, I said, ‘I think this has potential.’ Chris said it was not a nice piece of land and probably didn’t have live water. But come to find out, it has three springs and a pond.”


Finding the land wasn’t easy, but deciding on a builder was. Sumer had worked with Lee Scarlett, owner of Celtic Custom Homes, many times over the years. “I’ve been in custom builds where it was a train wreck, where you’re holding on for dear life because the general contractor quit in the middle of the project,” she said. “Lee is very dependable, very knowledgeable and his sub-contractors are the absolute epitome of quality. There are very few custom home builders with Lee’s caliber of communication, attention to detail and craftsmanship.”

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Scarlett takes pride in the sustainable aspects of his houses, too. To better seal the exterior and add a level of waterproofing before bricking the house, he uses the ZIP system and ZIP tape versus Tyvek. Foam insulation between the walls not only adds a better-sealed home, but also reduces electric and gas bills. “It normally pays for itself in a few years,” Scarlett said.


“In Bella Vista we lived in a 2,600-square-foot house and our utility bills are almost the same as here,” Sumer said of her 4,900-square-foot home. “The foam insulation also helps with noise. We can turn the outdoor speakers up, but you can barely hear a sound inside.”


Other sustainability features include low-E — low emissivity — glass to reduce ultraviolet rays coming into the house, upgrading all light fixtures to LED, and upgrading the air conditioning units to 17 Seer versus the standard 14. Seer rating refers to the unit’s seasonal energy efficiency ratio. The Brandons also elected to install 5-star energy rated appliances. Scarlett seals all openings into the home from electric and air conditioning lines, seals the windows on the exterior between the frame and brick with silicone, and uses insulated pipe on all the HVAC ducts. On the roof, he uses solar board decking, which is laminated with a layer of aluminum foil to reflect as much as 97% of the radiant energy from the sun.


The Brandons wanted the home to be “open and inviting with a modern touch,” Sumer said. “Chris wanted ultra-modern. But I’m from Texas and I said, ‘No, I want it to feel homey and warm, but open.” The couple agreed on a floorplan they found online at

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All the houses Sumer had seen as a real estate broker gave her great ideas when it came to building her own house. In the large kitchen, she incorporated a cabinet with slots for sheet pans, a pull-out spice drawer, a utensils holder drawer, double ovens, double dishwashers and two sinks— one of them in the island.


Having seen hidden doors in a house, she put them in her office. They lead to the primary suite and closet. “I also wanted a loop from the primary bedroom to the closet, to the bathroom, to the laundry room,” she said.


Ceilings in the home soar to 20 feet in the foyer and 18 feet in the living area. The floors in the living area are epoxy. The Brandons like them because they are beautiful, easy to clean and stand up well to a lot of traffic and the family pets. The epoxy floors were economical at $4 per square foot installed.


The Brandons are pleased with how the house turned out and grateful for what they have. The home is sustainable and affordable, but most important of all, perfect for this family for years to come.

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Home Pros Used:

Appliances: Metro Appliances & More

Architect: Hobbs, Inc.
Builder: Lee Scarlett with Celtic Custom Homes
Cabinets/Doors: Oxford Carpenters, Quality Millwork, Verser Cabinets
Concrete/Driveways/Walkways: Josh Hurtt Construction, RKR Backhoe & Dozer, Inc.
Electronics/Electrician/Wiring/Alarm System: DES


Fixtures/Flooring/Windows: Encore Building Products, Glossy Floors

Garage Doors: A-Z Overhead Door

Granite/Marble/Tile: Gunn Granite Company, Millennium Tile and Floor

Masonry/Bricks: Junior Mounce 

Mirrors/Shower Doors: Bella Vista Glass & Mirror

Painting: Super Mario’s Painting Contractors Inc.

Plumbing/Fixtures: Plumb Perfect, Quality Plumbing

Pool/Pool Service: Megalodon Pools

Roofing: ABC Supply, J&M Roofing

Additional Vendors: Dave’s Siding, Preferred Cleaning Services LLC by Marisol Rogel, Trim by Big D and Son