Greers Ferry Happy Place


By Kim Dishongh | Photography by Jamison Mosley

Every weekend, Melody and Steve Stanley head north, to their happy place. The original blueprint of the home, built in the early 1970s, hangs in the entryway of the home they have made uniquely their own.

“We didn’t want a designer to come in,” says Melody. “We wanted it to look like us. This house reflects our personalities.”

Steve is program director for the National Science Foundation’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission; Melody runs North Little Rock’s Red Door Gallery, which they have owned since 2006. They have rental property on the side, and it was while they were spending some time there that they happened upon this home, tucked away on a gravel road near Greer’s Ferry.

Steve initially wanted to use it as rental property, but Melody felt like it was home. When they moved there in 2014, they found a penny embedded in the flagstone flooring. Melody framed it with the message “From Pea to Pea, I told you we were going to live here!! Rock House 2014.” It hangs on the wall of the room they expanded from a small bedroom to a master suite.

“Steve got to pick what [art] he wanted on his side of the bed and he chose ‘The Twins.’ That’s Jerry and Terry Lynn from Memphis, and they paint on the same canvas at the same time,” she says.

Living room with wood ceiling and huge windows

The Stanley’s unique personalities are reflected.

On her side are pieces by Morris Howard and Gino Hollander, and over the bed, textured art by Robin Steves.

The master bathroom shower is floored with a sliced rock tile and has a waterfall showerhead, and the vanity was custom-built from a wood pallet to accommodate a clear glass sink basin that Melody found years earlier, before she knew it would have a place there.

The woodworker who made the vanity also crafted the coffee bar Melody chose. The coffee bar is mere feet from their bed, the height of convenience for Steve, who has brought Melody a fresh cup of coffee every morning of their 17-year marriage.

“This guy made it from a sycamore tree that he had for 30 years and was waiting for the right thing to make with [it],” she says.

A collection of masks surround that small framed penny, souvenirs from trips they have taken around the world.

yellow goat hanging on a dark wooden wall

Unique pieces of art of all kinds can be found everywhere.

The guest bathroom upstairs features a Raku sink basin they brought back from South Africa, and on the wall hangs a tapestry showing an African woman with a basket atop her head that they watched an artist weave during their trip.

In the loft bedroom, Country Music Award prints and a painting of Rotiers, a restaurant Melody enjoyed when she was a child in Nashville, Tennessee, hang on the walls, and there is furniture that looks antique but isn’t — she found it at F.L. Davis Ace Home Center in Heber Springs.

Country music ripples through the house and out onto the deck, which wraps around two sides of the home and offers a spectacular view of the Greers Ferry Lake.

“When we’re here, that’s where we stay,” she says of the deck. “Music is important, so everything is piped outside.”

Wind chimes hanging in the trees

Their weekend home helps them relax and enjoy their natural surroundings.

There’s a hot tub out there, and a comfortable seating area. Music of the Spheres wind chimes make gentle sounds in the breeze. And there is art: a cactus guy made of railroad ties and metal sculptured faces on a tree (created by the late Trenton Byrd) and a long piece of driftwood, all lit up at night.

“At night we’ve got every tree up here lit up with lasers,” says Melody. “The whole deck is lit up.”

The pool house, with a small lap pool, is lit up, as well.

Outside porch with plants, trees and table

Their weekend home helps them relax and enjoy their natural surroundings.

After they bought the home, Steve and Melody contacted the Baton Rouge architect who designed it for the original owner, a Louisiana State University music professor and his family, for just $35,000. The glass front and stone walls on the southern side of the home were designed to gather heat and keep the family warm in the winter. The architect wrote them a letter, now framed and hung on the wall near the blueprints just inside the front door. In it, he joked that the house was “green before green was fashionable.” Central heat and air conditioning were installed seven years ago.

“When they built this,” Steve says, “it was all about energy saving, and I guess they thought this was cold climate and they were more concerned with keeping the house warm. They built a lot of rock walls to absorb heat. Well, for us it’s the view and air conditioning.”

Back inside, the living room and hallway are filled with art. A bronze moose on a rotating pedestal – “The Enlightened One” by a Colorado artist, Joshua Tobey – has a prominent place in the living room, as does an iron sculpture that holds lights behind its hands and face — a piece the Stanleys bought on a trip to Chicago. Paintings by Tod Crites – one a simple picture of four peas in a pod – are hung on the rock hearth.

man and woman with dog standing on deck with trees

Steve, Melody and their dog Juanita find peace in their Greers Ferry getaway.

Tod is a friend, privy to fact that Melody and Steve often refer to themselves and their dogs, Chester and Juanita, as peas in a pod. Chester was 17 when he died in late June.

Art by another close friend, Amy Hill, is also displayed throughout their home, one of the pieces depicting Steve surrounded by hummingbirds.

“Steve’s big thing is hummingbirds,” says Melody, pointing out several hummingbird feeders visible from the deck. A glass one swirled with bold colors, crafted by artist James Hayes, has a place inside their home.
The kitchen countertops are taller than standard, with deeper than normal kitchen drawers.

“The gentleman who lived here had the disease that Andre the Giant had, and he was 6-foot-11,” says Melody. “Our countertops are six inches taller and they’re deep. We thought the house was a work of art and we wanted to keep the integrity, so we kept the footprint of the kitchen but we replaced countertops and cabinet doors.”

They cut and framed scrap metal from the Sol Alman Company to create a backsplash and Charlene Prousnitzer, owner of Light Innovations, designed under-cabinet lighting to highlight African pottery and artwork by Jane Hankins and James Hayes.

American flag artwork hanging in living room above couch

The home features art from local artists, too.

“It was real important to both of us to be able to display art, and so, we have an art gallery,” Melody says, waving a hand toward the hallway, a veritable museum of their lives and of their time together.

“Everything tells a story, like this is Steve’s grandparents’ — Ma cut watermelons and Pa had a hammer,” says Melody, motioning to a hammer and knife displayed in a shadowbox. “And this is from Vietnam, this is Ellen Hobgood… everything is all over the board.”

An artist marionette they got on a trip to Prague, a Russian sculpture of a man in ostrich boots they bought in Boston and guitars played by Martina McBride and Asleep at the Wheel all have homes in this area of the Stanleys’ house.

On a table just inside the master suite sits one of the red engraved love locks – M & S, 2014 – that the Stanleys have left all over the world. There was one on the bridge over the Seine River in Paris before it collapsed and there is one on a sculpture at the highest point in South Africa.

green potted plant on table in front of dark wooden background

Melody calls their Greers Ferry getaway her “slice of happy.”

“Every time we travel we leave a love lock,” she says. “They’re in China. They’re in Paris. They’re in Spain; they’re all over. That’s what we contribute to the cities that we visit, it’s just a little bit of us.”

The Stanleys don’t pack anything for trips to their Rock House, except, on occasion, some groceries.

It’s a trip they look forward to all week.

“It’s just our little place,” says Melody.

“It’s our slice of happy.”

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