Nashville Idea House Tour
We put together an all-star team to design the ultimate Nashville house. Located on the land of country music icon Barbara Mandrel’s estate, Fontanel, Atlanta and Peachtree City, Georgia-based architecture firm, Historical Concepts worked with uber-Southern decorator, Phoebe Howard who works out of Charlotte, North Carolina; Atlanta; and Jacksonville, Florida to create this Nashville house that can host a crowd. Mimicking an old farmhouse, the main house revolves around one large living room flanked by a hardworking kitchen on one end that boasts a laundry room with enviable laundry room shelving. The exterior boasts a wraparound front porch with extra-deep porch swings and completely a separate rear-dining porch that is connected to the living room and dining room. Outside the main house, Historical Concepts designed several guest houses and bunkies each with their own kitchenette and porch so that company could have their own privacy. Consider this the ultimate Nashville house.
Nashville Idea House at Fontanel
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.
The Living Room
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.
The Living Room
Phoebe used plenty of warm wood antiques to give the new upholstered furniture groupings a sense of age and patina.
The Living Room
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.
The Back Porch
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 Front Porch
"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 Dining Room
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.
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.
The Master Bedroom
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.
The Bedroom Anteroom
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.
The Master Bath
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.
The Master Bath
"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.
The Master Closet
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.
The Guesthouse Upstairs Suite
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.
The Guesthouse Upstairs Suite
Wrapping the small room in fabric gave the look of wallpaper but with a warmer, tactile effect.
The Guest House Downstairs Suite
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 Guest Bath
The Guest House Porch
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.
The Bunkie Kitchenette
Both bunkies feature a petite kitchenette, a convenient feature for guests.
The Bunkie Bath
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.
The Powder Room
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).
The Laundry Room
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.
Y'all Come Visit
Our 2013 Idea House is now the Inn at Fontanel, a six-room boutique hotel outside Nashville. With six employees (basically one person per room) and someone to care for guests around the clock, the attention here is as personal as it gets. Staff can help you secure a table at a hard-to-book Nashville restaurant, such as Husk, or last-minute tickets to a show at the Grand Ole Opry. Attendants have even been known to walk guests' dogs. (Two of the suites are pet-friendly.) If you want to go to town, the innkeepers can easily arrange car service into Nashville.