Southern Living Idea House: Nashville

Being a blogger is so much fun! I get invited to some of the best events and last week was invited up to Nashville to preview the newly opened Southern Living Ideahouse on the Fontanel property.  What a treat!  I love touring homes and to get to experience the ideahouse with several other bloggers was so much fun.  I met many bloggers from the Nashville area and some of them I knew and some I didn’t.

I invited one of my dearest and oldest friends, Vicki, to go with me. She was so excited to go on this fast trip with me.  She and I have been friends since we were 15 and in high school at Sprayberry, right here in Marietta.  We lived in the same area too and rode the bus together. We go way back and have been through thick and thin together. You know those kinds of friends, right?

Vicki and Rhoda

Vicki and me.

The new Southern Living ideahouse has just opened to the public and will be open the rest of the year, so if you get a chance, you must go and tour it.  A portion of the proceeds go to the St. Judes Childrens Research Hospital, which is a great cause.  This ideahouse was built on the property of Fontanel, which is Barbara Mandrell’s old mansion, which we also toured. I’ll tell you about that another day. It was also a treat to see, this huge log cabin home.

Developer:  Fontanel Properties LLC

Builder:  Castle Homes

Architect:  Historical Concepts

Interior Design:  Phoebe Howard

Lanscape Design:  Page/Duke Landscape Architects

Charitable Partner:  St. Judes Childrens Research Hospital

ideahouse Fontanel

We got there a little early and had a chance to take outside pics before everyone arrived, which came in handy.  All the bloggers started arriving a little later.  From the outside of the house, it’s set up in a U-shape around a courtyard, with lots of beautiful plantings.  After the Ideahouse is closed at the end of this year, this will become a bed and breakfast, which I think is so neat.

Southern Living house

It’s farmhouse in feel, with a huge wrap around porch that connects all the buildings.

Southern Living Idea House

Backside of the Ideahouse looking in from the courtyard.  You can see those beautiful shades that pull up and down for sun control.  It’s a gorgeous house, but we were only allowed to take photos of a few areas, but had full reign outside, so you’ll see lots of pics of the outside.

Southern Living idea house 2

This is another guesthouse suite that connects with the porch.

front of house

Front side of the house, from the road.

front and side of house

From the front and side of the Ideahouse, a pond was also built.  It’s in a picturesque valley with a mountain in the background and such a beautiful area for this home.


One of the two bunkies at the Southern Living house. These are small guest suites, but so cute.

bunkie on right

The other bunkie.  You can see all the beautiful landscaping that was done at the house.  I love all of this too.


View of the entrance and pond.

waterfall and entrance

Waterfall into the pond.


On the spacious wrap around porch, there were several seating areas and this beautiful hanging swing.

hanging swing

Don’t you  love this?  The rope around the chains is a nice touch.  I could definitely take a nap on this.

ideahouse grounds

Background against a pretty green hill, you can see the expanse of the courtyard.


From the porch, the left side of the compound.


Chimney from the outside.

table and chairs

Table and chairs on the main porch.

table on porch

Beautiful rustic table.


Doghouse and seating area.

SL Ideahouse

Main house view.

rain catcher

A rain catcher, so pretty.

SL garden

The Southern Living plant collection.  I loved seeing all the beautiful landscaping too. Can’t wait to get started at my house on this part.

SL landscaping

Beautiful planting beds.


Along with hydrangeas,  my favorite flowering bush. I’m planning to have plenty of these at my house too.

landscaping 2

More planting beds.

Southern Living house (2)

Getting ready to tour inside the house.

SL tour

We were introduced to the Southern Living folks, including Jen (who is the Southern Living media contact, great gal!), Lindsay Bierman, Editor in Chief for Southern Living, and Designer, Phoebe Howard.  It was a treat to see Lindsay again, I love talking to him and never miss his letter at the beginning of each month in the magazine.  Everyone at Fontanel was so friendly and welcomed us all in.  It’s such a treat to get to meet them all at events like this.

dining room

We all entered the house and took a tour. Again, because Southern Living will be covering the house in the August issue this year, we couldn’t take pics of all rooms, but did get to do a preview of the dining room and guesthouse. This is the well-lit dining room, simple and spacious. All interior design by the well-known and talented, Phoebe Howard.

dining room (2)

Loved this little corner piece with artwork.  Check out the pretty café curtains in the room too.

antique dr table

The table is an antique stone from Europe, so pretty.

guesthouse 1

The other area we got to photograph was the guesthouse.  It was painted in darker tones, mostly neutral browns and creams, but very cozy and inviting.

guesthouse 2

Bookcase with lots of things from Ballard Designs, also a sponsor of the house.

guesthouse 3

Beautiful sitting area around the fireplace.

guesthouse 4

Turtle shells.

guesthouse 5


guesthouse 6

Bathroom suite.

guesthouse 7

With tub and shower.  Wouldn’t you love to stay here for a visit to Nashville?

guesthouse 8

Spacious bathroom.

guesthouse 9

Interesting accessories.

guesthouse 10

Small kitchen area. We had a lot of fun touring the house and out buildings and then Vicki and I took off for the Fontanel tour and again, I’ll tell you all about that later.  Loved it!  It’s right up the road from the ideahouse and Fontanel is now open as a tourist destination, since the Mandrell family sold it a few years ago.

Ideahouse party

Later that evening, we gathered once again at the Ideahouse for the grand opening party and that was a treat too.  Lots of good food and drinks for a crowd of about 250.  Many Nashville dignitaries and country celebs were there.

Rolls Royce

A Rolls Royce was parked out front. This is the closest I’ve ever been to one of those.

SL Ideahouse party

A big crowd gathered and it was a beautiful evening for an outdoor party.  Music was performed by The Farm, local musicians.

stage and house

The big wrap around porch came in handy, with many spilling into the courtyard.

SL ideahouse crowd

You can see the crowd here.

Rhoda and Jamie

One funny story for you!  See my striped sun dress?  I just bought this at TJ Maxx a few weeks ago and love it.  Jaime Dudney, Barbara Mandrell’s daughter, was introduced from the speaker podium during the talks and I noted that she and I had on the same dress!  Funny, right?!  It’s always interesting when that happens.  I couldn’t let the opportunity go by without speaking to her and making light of the fact that we were dressed alike.  I sauntered over and said hi, Jaime, I have to tell you one thing, “we have great taste in clothes.”.  She laughed and was super friendly and I decided that we had to take a pic together, just to prove it.  So, that’s what we did.  Thanks for posing with me, Jaime!  I also had to tell her that I just love her mama, cause I do.  I have always admired and respected Barbara Mandrell so much.

Ballard designs folk

Met up with the Ballard Designs gang and it’s always fun to hang out with them too.  They are one of our big sponsors at Haven this year and we can’t wait for that either.

What a fun trip, short and sweet.  I’m so blessed to get to do the things I do and I have to pinch myself every single day that I’m invited to these type events.  God is good!  I’ll keep doing this and sharing it with all of you as long as it keeps going.  Thanks for going on the journey with me!

For more sneak peeks of the house, check out Southern Living’s Pinterest board.  Also, several other bloggers covered the house and it was so good to see them all, including Dana TuckerBlonde Mom Blog, The Decorologist, and LLH Designs.

You can find lots more fun pics at their blogs too!

- Rhoda


  1. Wow! With the amazing environment, the view, and the house itself, it’s impossible to not be able to relax there. It’s a good thing you took photos of almost all the areas. It’s not a surprise why bloggers flock there. You can even make it an inspiration when you build and design your own house.

  2. Sarah Frost says

    How can I find out where the wicker club chairs came from? They are exactly what I am searching for!
    Thanks for you help!

    • HI, Sarah, my source list says the table and chairs are from Ballard Designs. They did all the outdoor furniture.

  3. Rhoda, it was such a pleasure (as usual) to see you! So glad you loved the house. We’re so happy to be a part of this gorgeous project.

  4. Thanks for sharing your tour with us! The porch swing is my favorite!

  5. I love how they casually wrapped the jute rope around the porch swing!!!

    Looking good in your stripes mama!


  6. Beautiful house! I wondered about those bathroom mirrors … were they wood? I’m getting ready to do a mirror framing for my mom and was looking to do something fairly rustic looking. Can you tell me more about them?

  7. I handled publicity when Barbara and Ken sold Fontanel at auction. It’s a massive place. I spent a good bit of time there, and we got a lot of press, including a live tour on Today, with Matt Lauer interviewing Barbara as she walked through the house. They spent the whole day the previous day running cable through the hallways. I had somehow not realized the buyers (who were friends of Barbara’s) had turned it into a museum of sorts.

  8. Great write up Rhoda! Loved seeing you! So glad you got to drive up to Nashville. What a fun event – how FUN is that picture of you with Barbara Mandrell’s daughter? I’m a TJ Maxx girl…their clothes are great.

  9. Great article Rhoda, I appreciate everything your guys are doing for Nashville. Keep it up.

  10. Julie O'Leary says

    Any idea where I could purchase the sunbrella slip covered swivel chairs flanking the fireplace in
    The Guest House Downstairs Suite?

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  1. […] Phase I of the master bathroom renovation is in full swing and my latest progress includes creating some easy, DIY wall stripes. If you recall, my inspiration for the space comes from the 2013 Southern Living Idea House. […]

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