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Beauty & the Lake

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Lake Hamilton is known for spectacular scenery, from lush green islands and secluded channels, to soaring bluffs and stunning sunsets. For anyone who may have wondered about a particular landmark home that rises above a prominent peninsula, now is your chance to take a peek inside.

The home of John and Missy Gibson is, in a word, a showstopper. But this labor of love is more than one family’s everything—the Gibson home also serves as a base for charitable fundraisers and worthy causes, from Circle of Friends and Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen program, to Bible study groups and church functions.

On the day of our tour, a tiny person with a big smile opens the glass-and-ironwork door. It’s four-year-old Brooklyn and she’s a charmer, introducing the family dogs Belles and Bentley (a schnauzer and Malti-poo, respectively). “I like ballet and to skip and to jump!” giggles Brooklyn, dancing across the foyer. The home’s architectural flourishes include tile floors inlaid with patterned mosaics; soaring columns, banks of tall arched windows and ornately trimmed tray ceilings. When Missy and John join us, Brooklyn is showing off a cabinet that holds several tiaras—“Mommy’s crowns,” she explains.

Missy, a former Miss Hot Springs and Miss Hot Springs Village, now directs the Miss Hot Springs and Miss Hot Springs Outstanding Teen pageants. The statewide pageants take place this month, so Missy is gearing up for a busy June—son Jaxon and daughter Bailey will be on summer break, and daughter Sydney will be home from college. But that’s not all: “We’re renewing our wedding vows this month,” John explains.

“We spent our honeymoon in Maui,” Missy adds. “So the family is flying out and we’re renewing our vows on the beach.” The busy couple loves to travel (when they can get away) and describes a Mediterranean cruise taken when Jaxon was only six months old. “I have a photo of us taken at the Colosseum in Rome, with Jaxon sitting on my lap,” says John. Several lovely Turkish rugs, finds from that trip, adorn seating areas throughout the great room.

When Missy and John met through mutual friends at the Garland County Fair, she was a 19-year-old beauty queen and he was a divorced dad. For the next four years, the couple dated off and on. Eight months after they announced their engagement, they were married—and then began the ultimate dream home project.

“When we were dating, we’d go out on the lake and look at houses,” says Missy. Both she and John love Mediterranean architecture and had looked at homes in Miami before beginning their own design. As their family grew, so did the design—by the time Bailey was born, the Gibsons had found the perfect 10-acre peninsula and started work on infrastructure. “I joked that Bailey would be in kindergarten before the house was finished,” laughs Missy. She was right—the Gibsons moved in with baby Jaxon on the way.

In the process they also opened up acreage for other families. Now the quiet, shady cul-de-sac comprises half-a-dozen brick houses and is also home to John’s mom and Missy’s sister. “My sister, Laurie Rushing, is running for state representative,” Missy notes, adding, “District 26!”

John, who manages commercial properties as well as his business, John Gibson Auto Sales, was very involved with the design and construction of the home. “There are 20-foot-tall retaining walls, and we spent over a year putting in utilities and roads,” he says. He had some specific goals in mind, based on happy childhood memories: “I was active in my church youth group, and we spent time at church members’ lake houses,” John recalls. “I remembered having such fun on Lake Hamilton and I wanted that for my children.”

With lake views from nearly every room, the home’s two-story veranda is a family favorite. Overlooking an infinity pool and lawn landscaped with palms and gardenias, the breezeway makes a heavenly place to watch over the children as they swim and play. The lower level features an outdoor kitchen with dining and seating areas, including an inviting deckchair/recliner for two. A spiral staircase leads to the upper floor. Nearby, Garvan Woodland Gardens’ forested expanse provides a green vista, while the site’s Western exposure enjoys spectacular sunset views.

The patio’s patterned brickwork, a feature repeated in the home’s forecourt, makes a bold statement in the den as well. “We like big open areas,” John explains of the flow between kitchen, dining, den and great room areas. Blonde-wood cabinetry and a double-tiered island of pale green and gold granite make for a light-filled workspace. Design elements in surrounding living areas showcase textural fabrics, large round ottomans, rolled-back parsons chairs and a chaise lounge. Floor-to-ceiling embroidered draperies, groupings of freestanding candles, and stately urns filled with greenery serve to visually connect separate spaces. Ornate mirrors and chandeliers draw the eyes upward. A floating staircase features delicately scrolled ironwork. “The different tradesmen took two months to complete it,” John explains of the travertine cut to fit this graceful yet rock-solid masterwork.

The master suite offers a serene hideaway, with its sleigh bed, hand-carved hearth and cozy seating area. Plank-wood floors and plantation shutters add Southern charm, while a framed photograph of Missy in her bridal gown standing on the state capitol building’s marble staircase makes a timeless focal point. The adjacent master bath features a columned arch over a pedestal spa tub flanked by symmetrical blonde-wood cabinetry. A cross-vaulted ceiling and crystal chandelier crown the marble-floored space.

When asked her favorite room in the house, Brooklyn is emphatic: “My room!” And with a color palette in shades of peach and pink, it’s a room fit for a princess. A golden crown tops the bed’s festively striped canopy, while tiny faux gems decorate stenciled walls. With so much attention to detail, this unique custom home is a testament to John and Missy’s vision and determination—and judging from Brooklyn’s happy smile, her dad’s goal of creating happy memories has indeed been met.