A Place to Gather
With patience and planning, the Dennie family created a home ideal for raising children, hosting gatherings and enjoying for a lifetime
By Nancy Peevy
Photos by Beth Hall
Growing up in Springdale, Brittney Dennie’s family ate lunch every Sunday at her grandparents’ home in Goshen. Their porch was where everyone gathered – sometimes to eat and sometimes just to visit after a good meal. “My grandfather isn’t with us anymore, and some of the best times we had with him were sitting on their porch on Sunday and listening to him tell stories – or fabrications of stories!” she laughs. Anyone stopping by knew they could find the clan on the porch, enjoying family time. After Brittney met Jon Dennie, he joined in the tradition and the porch came to represent family to both of them.
After the Dennies married in 2010, they knew that when they built their own home they’d create indoor and outdoor spaces where family and friends could gather.
The Dennies are owners of Clearwater Construction and build houses for a living. Jon began the company in 2008. After he and Brittney married, they chose to rent instead of build, focusing on growing their business and starting a family, waiting to build until they could have the house they wanted. “I’d rather take some time, be patient, and get it right the first time, as opposed to taking a couple of stabs at it and by the fourth or fifth house, it’s what we want,” Jon says.
Once they were ready, deciding to build in Goshen was easy, Brittney says. “Being out here every week, my whole life, I really wanted to be in this area. This feels like home to me.”
In 2015 the Dennies were on their way to Sunday lunch and happened upon 10 acres for sale by owner. They bought it on Christmas Eve and began camping there. Spending time on the land helped Jon decide the best location and position of the house and road.
For two years Jon and Brittney worked on the design of the house. “We tell our clients, ‘Don’t rush the early stages where you’re trying to find the right house plan.’ People want to get to building, and small details can get lost,” Jon says. “I tell my clients, ‘Don’t design for the phase of life you are in, but design for the phase of life that’s coming.’ I tried to take that into account.”
Porches to gather outside were, of course, at the top of the list. “Having outdoor spaces that connect to and almost become part of the interior was the idea,” Jon says. That led to a porch with a fireplace off the kitchen. The space features a glass garage door in the kitchen that opens up so the outdoor porch and indoor living area become one.
The space is ideal for entertaining because, with it opened, it feels like one huge space whether guests are inside or out. “I have a really big family, so with all of my family here we can still feel like we’re all together,” Brittney says.
Another outdoor living area off the living room features seating and two grills; it’s where Jon can be found on weekends. Cooking is his way to relax. He designed the house so the outdoor grill is by the wall of the walk-in pantry. He can stand at the grill, slide open the window to the pantry to put dirty utensils in the sink or retrieve supplies. Recently he’s used the grill’s griddle to cook fajitas, street tacos and even onion volcanos, like at Shogun’s, he laughs.
The style of the house is modern, with black windows and garage doors, but also with some traditional aspects of a farmhouse such as wood posts, stained porch ceilings and the use of rough sawn cedar.
Jon credits architect John Starnes with combining the couple’s ideas with features like the vaulted living room with windows to the ceiling to bring natural light into the house, “He definitely knocked it out of the park in our eyes,” Jon says. “The house is nicely lit during the day without a bulb on.” The windows also bring the outdoors in and enable the family to enjoy the views.
Brittney decorated the house in a transitional style. “I like a touch of modern mixed with a little bit of traditional and even a bit of contemporary with bringing in some bright fun colors,” she says.
In the kids’ spaces upstairs, Brittney flipped the usual layout design and put the bonus room in front of the bedrooms. “You walk through it, so the room is constantly used. “I wanted to bring my kids out of their rooms and encourage them to play together and not be holed away,” Brittney says.
Since moving in six months ago, the Dennies say they have found the house to be perfect. “We don’t ever want to leave. We don’t go anywhere anymore, everyone comes here. We love home and family and it just feels like home in these spaces,” Brittney says.
This holiday season Brittney and Jon will open their home to Northwest Arkansas for the Junior League’s Winter Dreams Tour of Homes on Dec. 8. Along with a 12-foot Christmas tree in the living area, Brittney says she’ll have vintage Santas and a huge Santa portrait above the fireplace. The children’s rooms will have “sugar plum fairy” and “adventure” themes. Greenery, wreaths and soft white lights will adorn the outside of the home, with fires in the outdoor fireplaces.
HOME PROS USED
Architect: John Starnes
Builder: Clearwater Construction
Wiring/Alarm System: AV Design
Décor/Furnishings: Executive Flooring Solutions, Inc. Beyond Reclaimed Division