Southern Living Idea House Tour
Southern roots meet thoughtful, timeless design.
This year’s Southern Living Idea House explores the concept of a “forever home,” meant to accommodate occupants of various ages while acknowledging that more time than ever before is spent at home.
The 2021 Southern Living Idea House is inspiring on multiple levels—from the stunning location in Louisville, Kentucky overlooking the Ohio river, to the design-driven home that marries European countryside vibes with a timeless aesthetic. Dubbed the “forever home,” the concept was to design for all stages of life, with thoughtful spaces that meet the ever-evolving needs of families today.
The 5,545-square-foot, Colonial Greek Revival Cottage-style home is located in The Breakers at Prospect community and is the collective effort of many, including builders Jason Black and Jimmy King of Artisan Signature Homes, Atlanta-based architect Brandon Ingram of C. Brandon Ingram Design, Nashville-based interior designer Sarah Bartholomew, and Josh Myers with Myers & Co. Landscape Architecture. This is a home that balances livable and lively ideas. What follows is a tour of some of the most interesting, beautiful spaces in this year’s Idea House.
While it may have formerly been a trend to embrace open layout living spaces, following the pandemic families are seeking spaces in the home that feel separated, to allow for privacy. Rooms with clear intentions allow more options for areas in which to spend time, depending on your mood. This home’s living room stands on its own, separate from the kitchen and other rooms, and resonates with old-world charm and a neutral palette with touches of blue.
“I wanted the design of the house to feel both casual and easy but also elegant and elevated,” Interior Designer Sarah Bartholomew said. “By the use of antiques, textures, and textiles, this space achieves that goal.” Marvin Ultimate Swinging French Doors maximize use of natural light and open onto the back porch.
The dining room toes the line between refined and relaxed. This is achieved through subtle elements, such as the antique farm table and wicker furniture, which imbue the elegant space with southern comfort. Meanwhile, flourishes like the soft-hued wallpaper, a striking striped pattern on the floor, and overall delicate color palette take the room to a high level of sophistication.
"The formal dining room is the center of memories, especially in Southern houses," Architect Brandon Ingram said.
The kitchen takes on a sophisticated, yet lived-in feel with painted floors. “I was inspired by some travel I did to Sweden and England and really wanted to incorporate [painted floors] into this house to create a sense of age and beauty and natural patina."
The pantry and appliances are tucked in a galley hallway around the corner from the heart of the kitchen, leaving this space uncluttered and free for meal prep and casual conversation. Of note is the single shelf mounted over the two Ultimate Picture windows. This unique take on open shelving is the perfect place for storing serving dishes for indoor and outdoor entertaining.
When guests visit the home, their quarters are hardly an afterthought. This room is intended for guests to find quiet and respite, with a stunning compilation of windows that harness light, air, and views. The Marvin Awaken Skylights overhead vent to allow air flow, and a wall of Ultimate Double Hung windows fills the space with a natural glow.
“We’ve all had multiple family members living under one roof this year and this is a great place for guests to have a quiet retreat away from the center of the house,” Bartholomew said.
On the home’s second level is a versatile studio space with expansive views through Ultimate Picture windows that overlook the Ohio River. Here, there’s workspace and storage nooks for office supplies and books. The fresh green color of the wood trim and built-in furniture give the space a playful, productive energy.
"Our goal was to create a home with a timeless design with modern elements that are both elegant and functional,” Builder Jimmy King said. “It was also very important to position this home on the lot in a way that fully takes advantage of the spectacular views."
The main bedroom is set in the back corner of the first floor. It’s the “catbird seat for the whole house,” according to Ingram, and ushers in light through stunning Ultimate Double Hung windows whose wood interiors are painted a lofty blue color. That same shade of dusty blue is carried through to the room’s trim, creating a pleasing sense of continuity. One playful detail that Bartholomew loves to point out is that the canopy bedframe pays homage to Louisville by incorporating a Louisville Slugger baseball bat into its design.
A custom basket skirt made from willow saplings encloses the cast-iron tub in the main bathroom, capturing attention the minute you enter the room. Warm light flows through a row of Ultimate Double Hung windows, giving the space a bright and clean feeling.
Overall, the home balances thoughtful details like this while illuminating broad concepts of what’s trending in modern architecture. "We wanted to create a house that spoke of home from many different perspectives,” Ingram said. “It's a classic Southern house at its roots but has subtle nods and references to a broader spectrum of American architecture. It's dressy but casual, and refined but comfortable, and it incorporates rooms and spaces that make it universally functional."