Nashville Idea House Tour
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.
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.
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.
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 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 panes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.