My husband, Jeff, and I spent our first anniversary at Eden Isle’s Red Apple Inn in 1984. We returned often over the years for weekend vacations with friends and our growing family. In August of 2017, while spending a weekend at Eden Isle, we noticed that one of Eden Isle's original "vacation villas" was for sale. We booked a tour and were intrigued. We loved the views of Greers Ferry Lake from the Retreat's deck, lot and sun room. We also loved the Retreat's architectural/design elements, including the private courtyard, vaulted and planked ceilings, exposed beams, the extensive windows and the unique light wells that allow natural light to cascade throughout. For years we had appreciated similar design features at the Red Apple Inn. We later learned that this was no coincidence and that the Retreat had been built as one of Eden Isle's first "vacation villas" by Eden Isle's developer, Herbert Thomas and used in the mid-1960s as a vacation rental.
Although we had never before considered owning a vacation rental, we purchased the Retreat in September of 2017 with the goal of converting it to a luxury "by owner" vacation rental. As we undertook this project, we quickly learned that the Retreat's restoration would be a labor of love, with an emphasis on labor. Even though the Retreat's original design included an open space layout, the old upper cabinets were in rough shape and blocked views of some of the Retreat's best features, including the great room fireplace, the rear deck, Greers Ferry Lake and the courtyard. Although we had originally contemplated keeping the Retreat's lower cabinets, we replaced these lower cabinets with new cabinets that offered modern features like "lazy Susan" turntables, large storage drawers, and the opportunity to increase the kitchen's original footprint. The kitchen's redesign allowed us to install the large quartz countertop that provides seating for 8 guests. We then installed hand-painted Talavera tiles for the newly remodeled kitchen's backsplash.
After completed our work on our the Retreat's cabinets, we replaced the its hodgepodge of old appliances with new high end appliances, including a KitchenAid convection range with a smooth surface downdraft cooktop, an ultra quiet KitchenAid dishwasher, an under-counter microwave oven and a new refrigerator with in-door water. We kept the Retreat's original maple kitchen table, which provides seating for 6 guests and the original outdoor wrought iron dining table that provides seating for 4 additional guests on new rear deck.
One of the Retreat's less glamorous, but important upgrades was an extensive overhaul of the Retreat's 1960s wiring and the installation of an upgraded electrical panel. During this process we were able to renovate and preserve the beautiful chandelier in the Retreat's great room and the vintage Mediterranean-influenced wall-plate/light-switch covers that add the the Retreat's charm.
We added a massive natural cedar mantle to showcase the Retreat's site-built wood-burning fireplace. We then restored the Retreat's great room chandelier. We then turned to the Retreat's floors. We replaced the Retreat's dated and cracked tile floors as well as its ancient carpet (ugh) with extra long "Twilight Oak" wide-plank flooring. In doing so, we painstakingly preserved the Retreat's original hand-painted Spanish tile baseboards.
We next restored the Retreat's original casement windows. We then restored the Retreat's retro (green) bathroom and completely renovated the Retreat's second bathroom, adding a large tiled walk-in shower with natural river rock flooring and hand-painted Talavera tile wall accents. We then added custom closet interiors to each of the Retreat's bedroom closets.
We furnished the Retreat by keeping the best of the Retreat's former furnishings and artwork (like the Georgia O'Keefe (Calla Lilly) print and a framed, June 26, 1965, cover (green frog) of the New Yorker Magazine). We then added our own touches throughout. Oddly enough, we purchased the vintage (1960s) Saturday Evening Post Magazine artwork in Paris France. The living room's coffee table was hand-made by a local (Heber Springs) craftsman from repurposed crib wood. Some of our favorite furnishings for the Retreat were found at Heber Springs' F.L. Davis, the most unique Ace Hardware Store I've ever visited.
We added a triple bunk bed and convertible futon to the Retreat's sunroom/bunk room, which now provides sleeping arrangements for up to 4 guests. We replaced the bedding throughout the Retreat with highly regarded Zinus Green Tea memory foam mattresses, high thread count sheets, hypoallergenic comforters and pillows.
After completing the Retreat's interior, we moved outdoors. We replaced the Retreat's deck, We added flagstone to the Retreat's courtyard and inserted a tile mosaic that was original to the Retreat. We also added a three-tiered fountain to the Retreat's private courtyard. We upgraded the Retreat's exterior lighting by restoring the Retreat's vintage lights and by adding extensive landscape lighting. We also added the custom stone fire pit that is surrounded by Adirondack chairs and the arched bridge that now leads to Greers Ferry Lake.
The Retreat's courtyard and fountain area provides guests a spacious, but intimate gathering area. The new deck offers offers guests a beautiful setting for outdoor dining and relaxation. The Retreat's Arkansas stone fire pit and locally crafted cedar Adirondack chairs provide another great gathering space that offers views of Greers Ferry Lake and Eden Isle.
Our goal was to great a unique vacation rental that would allow our guests to make memories during repeat visits to Eden Isle in the same way that our family has for many years. We hope you'll enjoy this little Retreat in the foothills of the Ozark mountains as much as we do!
Margo and Jeff