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For architect Lauri Matisse, some projects are dream projects — the clients are amazing, the builder constructs a first-class home and she gets to create a design she loves. This was the case with the modern Mediterranean house she designed in Fayetteville.


The owners had been through five other architects and none of them understood what they wanted. Matisse did. 


“We were searching for an architect that could give us a California look with a modern but comfortable and inviting feel,” the homeowner said. “I’ve always loved the black and white trend. It feels and looks so crisp and clean, and I knew it was something I’d never get tired of.”


After looking through pictures the homeowners gave her, Matisse recognized the modern Mediterranean style. She was familiar with it, having designed that style of house when she was an intern in 1985 for a house built in the Venice Canal Historic District near Los Angeles.

The modern Mediterranean style features traditional elements of Mediterranean homes, borrowing influences most commonly from Italy and Spain, but with a modern twist. The houses typically highlight indoor-outdoor living and include spacious rooms and open floor plans, and Matisse designed this Fayetteville home as so.


Arched windows, two front-facing and two rear-facing balconies, and white stucco all play a part in achieving this particular look. In this project, the floating stairs were the biggest challenge, but Matisse and the homeowners are pleased with how the home turned out.


Matisse is a total concept designer. Thirty years ago, just getting started, she worked for an internationally acclaimed architect who also did interior design, landscape design and furniture. “I got amazing training in the beginning,” Matisse said. 

Because of this, she has marketed herself as a full-service designer, able to design the exterior, interior and landscaping. Matisse helps clients achieve their vision by listening carefully and maximizing what they want. 


Satisfied with Matisse’s design, the homeowners turned to Lee Scarlett with Celtic Custom Homes for the construction of the 7,350-square-foot house. “I saw the plan and thought it looked interesting and was something I hadn’t done before,” Scarlett said. “We do a lot of modern homes, but this one was more eclectic.”


The entrance of the home has double floating staircases with glass railings, black trim and a catwalk on the second floor. “On the walls is a design element I’ve never used,” Scarlett said. “It looks like the walls have waves coming down them. Also, it’s the first house I’ve put a pivot door on, and I’ve been building houses for 28 years. It’s a giant door, and you push on one side and it pivots in the center.”

The pivot door opens to the entryway, leading into the spacious interior which looks out to the backyard with a beautiful view of the Ozark woods and, perhaps one of the most eye-catching features of the home, a five-dolphin fountain overlooking the pool.


The home’s interior is almost entirely black and white, with pops of color found in the large red painting hanging above the kitchen, blue vases and some green furniture scattered throughout. Gold side tables and lighting fixtures, as well as a pair of gold horsehead statues on either side of the hallway, stand out in the otherwise monochromatic interior. 


Marble is also a constant throughout the home. Though keeping with the black and white theme, marble flooring and marble kitchen countertops and backsplash add visual interest to the space. The interior’s stunning centerpiece is the 25-foot marble fireplace in the living room. “It is the best feature in our house,” the homeowner said. “We saw it in a hotel magazine and said we had to have it. It’s beautiful.”


The homeowner said the back-lit mirrors in the bathroom, along with floating vanities and stone showers, play into the vibe of a luxury-style hotel as well, bringing in the natural light look in a chic way without the help of windows. Another refreshing and relaxing addition to the primary bathroom is a commercial steam shower, which the homeowners use every day.

Scarlett’s vision of “building on the tradition of European quality” comes from his love of history, which includes a master’s degree in history. “I go to Europe and walk through these amazing houses and castles — some have been there for a thousand years,” he said. “When you build with European quality, you’re building something to last.”  

One of the most well-loved rooms in this home is the game room, with its hidden-door entrance off the kitchen. It houses a pool table, shuffleboard, pinball machines, foosball and table tennis. The walls are decorated with funny pictures of the family to give anyone who visits a quick laugh. “This room is highly trafficked,” the homeowner said. “My children love to hang out in there with their friends. We have a large family that are also our best friends, so it is often used for some friendly competitions.”


The family also frequents the theater room, with movie night taking place nearly every Sunday. “It was a tradition we started when the kids were very young, so it was important to make a space big enough for all of us now that they are grown,” the homeowner said.


The architect-builder duo that created this modern Mediterranean home certainly hit the nail on the head, bringing every vision the homeowners had to life. “We wanted someone that would build what is our one-of-a-kind house,” the homeowner said. “A house where every room was used every day and was big enough to move around in comfortably with a large family and friend group.”

By Nancy Peevy | Photos by Kathy Hader

Modern Mediterranean

A local architect and builder team up to create a home built with European quality and unique features

Home Pros Used:


Builder: Celtic Custom Homes

Architect: Lauri Matisse

Alarm/AV: 1st Choice Protection Systems

Appliances: Metro Appliances & More

Cabinets: Verser Cabinets

Fixtures: Plumb Perfect

Garage doors: Overhead Door Company of Springdale

Painter: Adrian Orozco

Plumbing: Quality Plumbing

Pool: Megalodon Pools

Stairs: UDI

Tile: Millennium Tile & Flooring

Trim Work: Big D & Sons Construction

Windows: Encore Building Products


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