We handpicked an all-star team to design, build, and decorate the ultimate Southern farmhouse on the grounds of Fontanel, former home of country legend Barbara Mandrell.
Our 2013 Idea House team designed, built, and decorated a new Southern farmhouse on the grounds of Fontanel in Nashville, Tennessee. Here, we bring you room-by-room inspiration from our best Idea House ever!
The chevron design of the wood door dates back centuries. Besides looking great, it's also a practical choice. The pattern keeps the door stable and sheds water to prevent warping.
Front and back doors open directly into a two-story-high living room, where spruce-planked walls and wood beams salvaged from
an 1890 Tennessee barn reflect the home’s rural setting and give the space a refined, barnlike feel. Interior decorator Phoebe
Howard balanced the rustic elements with color. “I added an air of elegance with a soft color palette that reflects the surrounding
sky and hills,” she says.
Phoebe used plenty of warm wood antiques to give the new upholstered furniture groupings a sense of age and patina.
To find coffee tables of the right size and scale, Phoebe used a decorator's secret: She started with antique dining tables and had the legs cut down to make them the ideal height.
From cabinet countertop configuration to hanging pendants, the two sides of this kitchen are almost exact matches. At each
end, the elements differ, but their size and scale balance each other to feel symmetrical.
Taken from an early-1900s Tennessee barn, the knotty boards of the custom sliding barn doors add rustic texture against the smooth painted walls.
Bathing the kitchen in color creates a cozy, friendly feel. "The one thing I had to have was white knobs," says Phoebe. "I love how they pop against the dark green."
Every Southern kitchen needs a spot to display china. Our glass-front cabinets flank the opening to the dining room for easy access.
In the back, a porch is nestled between the dining room and master bedroom. “With farmhouses, it was common for parts of porches
to be enclosed as interior needs grew,” says architectural designer Terry Pylant. “We designed the rear of the house to reflect
that tradition, as if the flanking rooms were once part of the porch.” A neutral palette connects the porch to the home’s
exterior and its pastoral setting.
"The wrapped covered porch is the key to this entire design because it provides the connectivity from space to space," says Terry. The porch's deep dimensions offer ample space for multiple seating and dining areas—a plus when entertaining large groups of people.
The casual dining space is surrounded by windows on three sides. Sheer cafe curtains, hung just above the bottom sash, give
softness and privacy while still allowing a view of the outside and inviting lots of sunlight to stream in through the upper
This small vestibule provides a pretty visual transition from the living room to the study, and master suite.
Just off the living room sits a wonderful, intimate little study that was designed as a purposeful departure from its big,
open neighbor. “It’s very important to have that room you can retreat to in the early morning or evening,” says Terry. A deep
green paint color covers the walls and built-in bookcases, elevating the room’s coziness. To counterbalance the depth of the
wall color, Phoebe used lighter colors for the curtains, upholstery, and rug.
For the study's large expanse of bookshelves, Phoebe started by placing all of the objects first to establish balance and then filled in with leather-bound books, all sorted by size and pulled to the front edge of the shelves to look neat and even. "Fill your bookcases with as many books as you can get in there, and stay away from using too many small knickknacks," she advises.
Phoebe used the same dark green (Palm Leaf by Sherwin-Williams) on the walls, trim, and built-in bookcases for a warm, eveloping effect.
Spool beds became popular with American furniture makers in the mid 19th century. This bedroom’s impressive example, which
is from the Mr. and Mrs. Howard collection by Sherrill Furniture, combines graceful spools, four tall posts (a Southern addition), and a pretty painted finish.
Located between the bedroom and bath, this painted dresser is topped with sparkly mirrored scones and a large mirror to reflect all of the bedroom's natural light.
For the master bath, Historical Concepts designed floating walls for the vanities that also function as room dividers for the tub/sink area and the large dressing room. “This allows both areas to share light and air through the entire space,” says Terry. Phoebe gave the vanities a more modern look by rapping each with honed marble and then using refined limed oak for the cabinet doors.
"Laid out in a pattern, this Ann Sacks tile gives the same graphic punch as a painted floor but is much more practical for a bath," says Phoebe. She continued the tile into the large closet and dressing area so that the two connected spaces would feel cohesive.
In addition to the matching floor tile and pendant lights, refined limed-wood door fronts and similar cabinet hardware link the enviable closet to the connecting bath.
In the second-floor suite, Phoebe gave the small space big impact by covering everything in the same fabric (Medium Ticking
in Warm Gray; laurakiran.com). “I took a farmhouse classic, the ticking stripe, and gave it a little kick by using it on the walls, curtains, upholstery,
and even the lampshades,” says Phoebe. Everything has a band of red trim to tie it back to the stunning oxblood red ceiling,
while all-white bedding by the Company Store provides a break in the pattern.
Wrapping the small room in fabric gave the look of wallpaper but with a warmer, tactile effect.
On the first floor, rich brown walls and a combination of neutral fabrics carry out a warm mushroom-and-ivory color palette. Everything from the upholstery of the swivel chairs to the curtains is made of durable Sunbrella fabrics. “Designing a guest room to be worry-free makes it even more comfortable,” says Phoebe. “These fabrics let a room be bulletproof without lacking style.”
The subtle color palette of the porch blends with the rustic views surrouding the guest house. Ample seating allows for a comfortable perch for visitors.
On the edge of the property, two miniature versions of the main house serve as a visual gateway into the compound. Known affectionately
as "the bunkies," the houses mimic each other inside and out and offer every comfort that a guest could want. Both have a
porch just right for a cafe table, a cozy bedroom with two indulgent queen beds, a petite kitchenette, and a full bath.
Phoebe called on husband-and-wife fabric designers Peter Fasano and Elizabeth Hamilton to help her give the two bunkies their own personalities. “I used Elizabeth’s designs to make her bunkie more feminine with a pretty blue-and-white palette, paisley wallpaper, and tufted headboards."
Fresh cut flowers and pretty accessories lend a feminine feel to this bunkie.
"His" bunkie is more masculine with a tone-on-tone striped wallpaper and darker wood finishes.
Darker, heavier furnishings give this bunkie a more masculine feel.
Both bunkies feature a petite kitchenette, a convenient feature for guests.
In the small bath, a mirror is suspended with metal rods in front of the window, allowing some sunlight to pass through.
A separate entrance from the porch opens directly into the hardworking mudroom with its pairs of custom open built-ins and
closed closets that provide ample space for open and hidden storage.
This space is stunning with its interesting mix of textures including walls of glazed moss green tile (annsacks.com), a Carrara
marble vessel sink (us.kohler.com), a granite vanity top (artisan-counters.com), aged iron sconces (circalighting.com), and
a faux-shagreen mirror (madegoods.com).
Tile is a pretty and practical choice for the light-filled laundry room. For interest on the walls, Phoebe used two colors
of the same small mosaic tile (Straight Chisai; annsacks.com) in wide stripes.
Open House Hours
June 29 – December 29, 2013
Open Wednesday – Sunday
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
4133 Whites Creek Pike
Nashville, TN 37189