This week has been a flurry of PR activity as blogs, newspapers and local TV channels alike have all been promoting the opening of the 2013 Southern Living Idea House. In fact, you’d have to be hiding under a rock somewhere to not know about this upcoming event!  Here at Interior Canvas, we’ve been honored and delighted in helping Southern Living cover the progress of this amazing house from start to finish… 


This week, Interior Canvas was delighted to have an exclusive interview with ever-talented Phoebe Howard (interior designer for this year’s Idea House) and Southern Living Editor in Chief, Lindsay Bierman, as they were on-site making their final rounds before the grand opening of this beautiful home.  We’re delighted to share pieces of that conversation with you today.

IC: What is the history and background of the Southern Living Idea House?

Lindsay Bierman: This year is our 59th year to do the House. It started out as an extension of our house plans program. It was seen as an opportunity to partner with sponsors and advertisers to show off their products, which had all been happily endorsed by our editorial staff, both from a quality and design standpoint. The Idea House has evolved over the years and grown exponentially. This year’s house is the first we’ve ever done that will become part of a historic property.

IC: How did Southern Living decide to build a Bed and Breakfast over a Single Family Residential Home?

LB: One of the brand extensions that we just announced in our current July 2013 issue, is the Southern Living Hotel Collection. So it is not coincidental that this house will turn into a B&B. We have begun to partner with a chartered collection of properties and we’re partnering with various hotels (all independently run) in the South.  So we loved the idea that this was never intended to be a spec house, but was something that would be enjoyed by generations of visitors and also become more of an event venue. I could see people planning weddings here, for instance.

IC:  Describe how Nashville’s style is reflected in this Idea House.

LB: My personal feeling about Nashville and this house is that they’re the perfect marriage of rustic and refined. I love them both!

IC: How much of the Idea House’s design and architecture keeps with traditional themes and how much (if any) of it features more trendy ideas?

LB:  We are interested in timeless more than trendy, and all of our houses have that quality about them. They should never evoke a particular time in history, they should just look and feel definitively Southern as well as have a certain warmth and inviting quality to them.  These are all homes that are rooted in tradition from a design standpoint, but the way they function is very modern.

Phoebe Howard: I also think that all the houses Southern Living builds reflect the region they’re being built in. So, for instance, the decorating style for this house was led by my thinking of it as a modern farmhouse. Meaning, it has all the modern conveniences of technology and functionality, while still having the charm of a farmhouse.

IC: Phoebe, what were some of the biggest challenges for you when designing this home?

PH: My first challenge was the “Great Room” of the house. It has 18 foot ceilings and a tremendously strong point of view as far as the architecture is concerned. It has rustic beams, giant sliding barn doors and all those windows!  So my first challenge with this room was to go straight to the curtains, because that was going to be my biggest expense. My next challenge was figuring out how to make this rustic space feel refined at the same time. It came for me as a push and pull between masculine and feminine. I wanted to create a kind of tug-of-war that gave both a male and female point of view – to make it soft and pretty yet strong and formidable.

IC: What was your inspiration for the color palettes used in the home collectively?

PH: The surrounding hills that were so green and that brilliant blue sky. Those were the first two things I noticed flying into Nashville, so it made perfect sense that blues, greens and neutral shades would serve as my color palettes for this house.

IC: Describe your relationship (as a designer) to the builder and architect in this type of project.

PH: You have to be a collaborator with an open mind, rather than a dictator. When a great team is in place, you listen to other people’s ideas and by doing that you get a much better product as an end result.

IC: You used several pieces of furniture from your personal furniture line, Mr. and Mrs. Howard (Sherrill Furniture), when furnishing this Home. Can you single out a favorite piece from your collection that was used?

PH: My favorite was the South Hampton Poster Bed we used in the master bedroom. It looks like it was made to go in this house!

IC: We’d like to say thank you, Lindsay, for giving Interior Canvas the opportunity to report the progress of the Idea House throughout this year! What are your takeaways for collaborating with an independent blogger for a specific project and how might this effect future Southern Living collaborations with other independent bloggers?

LB: We value and love the creative energy and insight you have brought in your coverage of this house. This was an experiment that we really loved! It gave us an extra set of eyes and ears on the ground, and told the story of the house as it was unfolding. It was really a treat for Southern Living and we appreciate all you did! As for the future, we are always open to future projects, using contributing writers and bloggers who bring something different and original to the table.

Thank you, Lindsay and Phoebe, for sitting down to talk with Interior Canvas!  We loved the conversation!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! The house will be open for tours starting TOMORROW, June 29.  It will be open every Wednesday – Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. through the end of the year. Tickets will be $12. 

(Image #1, 2, 3 & 7 courtesy of Interior Canvas; All other images courtesy of Southern Living)

 Nashville Interior Design Blog