Southern Living Idea House

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Gorgeous vistas, expansive porches, soaring ceilings with antique barn wood beams, and clerestory windows caught our eye during the first visit to the nation’s only 2013 Southern Living Idea House at Fontanel. It’s open for a tour from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday through December 29. In our second look, great design elements which can be easily adapted grabbed our attention.


With 2,800 square feet of porches, project builder Nashville-based Castle Homes used all-weather decking material and cable railing to make sure the view of the beautiful gardens, designed by Page|Duke Landscape Architects, remained unobstructed. Designer Phoebe Howard, Southern Living columnist, divided the large areas into individual vignettes including one of our favorite, the hanging porch swing with Sunbrella pillows.

Stepping into the light-filled living room you’re struck by Howard’s use of layered patterns accented with warm wood antiques including dining tables whose legs were reduced to make them into charming coffee tables.

Green and blue paisley were chosen as the main fabric for the room used on the windows and then the color scheme for the room built around it. Howard says her color plan for the room was inspired by the rolling hills and blue skies of Middle Tennessee. If you want to delve more into Howard’s design principals, it’s worth a trip to the bookstore to pick up her The Joy of Decorating – Southern Style With Mrs. Howard, a beautiful hardback coffee table book.


In the kitchen, a striking black walnut island houses a stainless steel farmhouse style sink. The three-bay custom sink will serve Fontanel’s Idea House as it transitions into a boutique hotel in 2014.

To tone down the sheen, Castle Homes worked with R. D. Herbert & Sons in Nashville to produce the weathered patina—a bead blasted finish.

Southern Living Editor Lindsay Bierman says the “Pewter Green” cabinets are a nice departure from the all-white kitchens trending recently. The surrounding countertops are Calcutta Gold marble, a still popular choice.


Each of the six bedrooms of the five-building Idea House project has its own distinct style. In the master, retreat is a reproduction spool bed from Howard’s line of furniture, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Collection by Sherrill Furniture. The soft, welcoming retreat features Olympus White walls and Ice Cube color on the ceiling. An all-Sherwin Williams home, the color choices throughout are detailed in the Resource Guide available in the garage where you’ll also find current copies of Nashville House & Home & Garden magazine.


The back porch, which faces west, thankfully has Sunbrella “Moreland Taupe” retractable shades by Nashville Tent and Awning for privacy and a sun break. Make a note of the pink ambient lights of the Bevolo lanterns. Made in Louisiana, the bulbs cast a prettier nighttime glow and are energy efficient. Bevolo touts itself as offering “sconces projected to last 300 years and lights feature are most energy efficient burners in the world. “

Visitors are most intrigued by the miniature versions of the main farmhouse. Called “bunkies” (aka, bunkhouses) and located on each side of the courtyard, the spaces are infused with the his-and-hers personalities of husband-wife fabric designers Peter Fasano and Elizabeth Hamilton. The foundation elements are the same, but hers has a pretty blue-and-white palette and his speaks in a decidedly masculine voice with darker wood finishes. Both weave deer heads into the décor. You’ll also see Lily Natural Alpaca fur pillows in the “his bunkie” and cow hide rugs in the guest cottage.alt

The home will be decorated for the holidays by November 8, so plan another trip out and don’t miss lunch at Café Fontanella, a favorite of ours.

A portion of the proceeds benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and team members and sponsors for the project include: Castle Homes, Page|Duke Landscape Architects, Historical Concepts, Phoebe Howard, Fontanel Properties LLC, Allstate, AT&T, Ballard Designs, Bevolo, Cesar, Chevrolet, Cottonelle, Lennox, LP Techshield, Mr. & Mrs. Howard for Sherrill Furniture, Nashville Convention, and Visitor’s Bureau, Rinnai, Shaw Floors, Sherwin-Williams, Southern Living Plant Collection, Sunbrella. and The Company Store. For tickets and directions, visit


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