20 Decorating Ideas from the Southern Living Idea House

20 Decorating Ideas from the Southern Living Idea House



Please tell me you have an extra ten minutes today.

I know you’re busy.

I know it’s Friday.

I know your to-do list is long and it’s cold and the day is already full….but seriously…..

…..you have to see this house.


This is the 2013 Southern Living Idea House.

Built by the 2012 Southern Living Custom Builder of the Year….Castle Homes….the house is located in the Nashville area and is open for tours from now through December 29.

I went and toured it yesterday…..

…..and this is what greeted me at the door.



And on an amazing scale….if 1 is the perfect chocolate chip cookie and 100 is finding a yard sale where all the milk glass marked $1.00….

….it’s a 250.


It’s classic and farmhouse and timeless and new and barn wood and burlap and visionary….

….and what my farmhouse wants to be when it grows up.

So here’s my list of 20 decorating ideas from my trip to the 2013 Southern Living Idea house to get started. 🙂


Idea #1:  Hang magnolia wreaths on the exterior windows from ribbon attached above the molding.

Idea #2:  Wrap jute rope around the chain on the porch swing.


Idea #3:  Combine an old farmhouse table with wicker chairs.

Idea #4:  Add architectural interest to a ceiling with exposed beams that are painted white.

(total aside….these porches were amazing).


Idea #5:  Make magnolia crosses for either side of front door.

Idea #6:  Install a front door that looks like it came over on the Mayflower.


Idea #7:  Create a welcoming porch with stripes and patterns in neutral gray with fresh greenery.

Idea #8:  Convince my husband to go into the table making business….starting with this coffee table.



Idea #9:  Install french doors off the dining room that open onto a screened-in porch.

Idea #10:  Add industrial nesting tables with wood tops to the back porch.

(total aside:  they didn’t allow beverages….but I really wanted to drink a cup of coffee right here).



Idea #10:  Add dried hydrangea to the Christmas tree.

(total aside:  I’m taking my fall wreath apart and moving the hydrangea to the tree.  This idea alone was worth the price of admission.)


Idea #11:  Genius alert.  Built-in cabinets over the doors.

Idea #12:  Add a basket for books, magazines and newspapers under the coffee table.


Idea #13:  Swag greens with burlap and dried hydrangea.

(total aside:  So happy I dried all those hydrangea this year).


Idea #14:  Install a fence outside the bedroom windows.

Idea #15:  Add two tufted ottomans to the end of the bed for storage and a place to put on your socks.



Idea #16:  Create a dressing room with wood doors and painted molding.

Idea #17:  Install a bench in between two cabinets.

(total aside:  I would be happy with just one of the cabinets and that flooring).


Idea #18:  Build a counter top for the washer and dryer with built-ins and baskets on the side.

Idea #19:  Add greenery….like miniature topiaries….to the laundry room.


Idea #20:  Move in. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed the tour as much as I did yesterday.

For tour information click here.

For details on the house….click here.


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  1. Gotta try that fence outside the bedroom window! I hope the neighbors won’t mind me tearing down their homes so I have sufficient room. Great post!

  2. I’ve got to show this house to Jane. It might be worth a trip to Nashville to see. Of course there’s plenty of other things to do too. Ummmmmm. Nashville. That’s the ticket.

  3. FABULOUS!!!!! : ) hugs…

  4. This is a fabulous home! Thank you for sharing it with us! It’s full of ideas and I love the ones you chose!

  5. Oh my gosh, so glad I woke to this, this morning. Thank you! I’ve already started small Christmas décor here and there in my home. I love to decorate with natural things. We have a few amazing stores in Savannah to shop. (Paris Market, One Fish Two Fish) are two of my favorites. I managed to do a little damage there a few days ago. So happy with the unique purchases. Thanks for the lovely post as always. Sandy

  6. Hi Kari Anne, Gorgeous rooms.

    I really love the front door adorned with grand garlands and the wonderfully organized laundry room. I wouldn’t mind doing laundry if my room looked like that.

    Hope you have a nice weekend.


  7. Oh..breathtaking. every detail and room.I wish I went with ya.

  8. Still trying to plan a trip to see that gorgeous house!…thanks for the tour Kari…it is a gorgeous home!..Have a great weekend!

  9. What a beautiful home…..love your 20 ideas! Sometimes these model homes are too over the top for me,but this one is perfection!

  10. I am ready to move in right now! Gorgeous!

  11. Kari, soooo, sooooo, happy to meet your sparkly self and sweet husband yesterday that the Idea House. I see a road trip in our future. 🙂 Thanks for the excellent coverage.

  12. What a fantastic tour. There is nothing like a fine Southern house to make you feel right at home. Love it ALL! xo Diana

  13. Thank you thank you for sharing! how beautiful and such fresh ideas….I wish I had some dried hydrangeas…sadly mine didn’t produce many at all this year….now on the hunt for some:)

  14. Perfection! I’m speechless!

  15. Oh how I love a Southern Living Home Tour and since we don’t live near Nashville anymore…thanks so so much for sharing! My heavens I love this home and the decor. I’m dreaming of a dried hydrangea Christmas. I’m thinking I need to plant a dozen or so of these beautiful bushes.

  16. Oh my! How absolutely gorgeous! You must have been in heaven!

  17. Love it! Love your comments! Love Southern Living and their Idea Houses! Thanks for reminding me to put it on my Must Do List!

  18. Great ideas….especially #8!! That is one gorgeous table! Enjoy your weekend! 😉

  19. Oh Karianne! Thank you so much for the sneak-peek at the SL Idea House!! You’re right! It’s a BEAUTY!!! ~hugs, Jennifer

  20. Such a beautiful house! Love the green cabinetry in the kitchen along with the black accents. Color but not over powering. I also love all the live greenery/plants that were used in every room. Plants make a home feel full of life and that really speaks to the gardener within! Thanks for the great tour, living in rural Nebraska does not allow me many great home tours 😉

  21. Ok, I will start on numbers 123,5,7,9,10,14, 18 and 19 this morning. 🙂

  22. Oh my goodness!!! Breathtaking. I want to move in. And how funny – I was decorating my tree last week and stuffed a ton of my dried hydrangeas into all the gaps on my tree to help make it look fuller.

  23. Dang it. Not just my front door decor has to come down. I have to start over. I look just plain Walmart beside this. Poor Layla. She has to stare at it. Good bye. I have work to be done.

  24. I just started following your blog a few weeks ago and I have to tell you how well organized it is and how much I enjoy reading it. This was such a pleasure to read this morning! This house is beautiful and I just fell in love with it as did everyone else! I would love to see some more detail photos of the Christmas Tree – that tree would work perfectly in my sitting room – now I need to figure out how to replicate it!

  25. sigh. My kingdom for a magnolia tree. Oh, the house is lovely and the ideas are inspirational and the photos are gorge . . . but I NEED a magnolia tree. Not a branch, or two, thank you. A tree.

    Wait, what was the question? Was there even a question? 😀

  26. Although, I don’t live in a southern state, magnolia trees seem to like it up here in Wisconsin. However, we’ve gotten our first snow this past week so all of the magnolia leaves are now soggy. Bummer! Anyone know where to get them (real or fake)? Otherwise, I think I might be able to recreate this with boxwood. Ideas?!

  27. Love these ideas, beautiful!!!!

  28. Oh my goodness!!! Incredible, incredible house. Love your ideas 🙂

  29. I’m like 45 minutes from that dream house, and I haven’t been?! What am I waiting for!? So BEAUTIFUL! Life to the full! Melissa

  30. Just gorgeous! I especially liked the little check wallpaper in the laundry room, which makes the space look so cozy. Might have to look for something like that when I tackle my laundry room reno this winter. Why can’t a washroom look as good as it can?

  31. It’s a gorgeous house but your home is just a beautiful, just like you 🙂

  32. Gorgeous, just perfect Karianne..Thanks for sharing..

  33. Oh, I just love all that they’ve done for Christmas! Simple elegance at its best! I went to the opening with some design bloggers, but couldn’t make the Christmas decorating tour. Knew I was missing out. I’m with you: this is what I want my farmhouse to look like when it grows up!

  34. I’m speechless. It’s perfectly stunning. Or stunningly perfect. Take your pick.

  35. Jennifer from Chesapeake, VA :

    I’m in total stinkin LOVE!!! I’m coveting the mantle greenery, the wreath on the door, oh………lets just be honest…I heart every bit of it!!! Thanks for sharing!!!!

  36. I liked the swags under the porch lamps, as well as the wreath on the door. Everything was amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  37. Oh I loved it. All of it. Thanks for the tour, that was beautiful!!

  38. That is just the most amazing house, thanks for sharing it with us.

  39. That was quite Enjoyable, Thank You and I think my Favorite Room was The Laundry Room lol.
    And I did like the cabinets above the doors. That was Wonderful and Your Photos are so Beautiful.
    Thank You

  40. Thanks for sharing! We had a Southern Living home here in Bryan, Texas several years ago and I volunteered as a docent. I loved spending my few hours a week showing others all the great ideas in the house.

  41. Great tour, though your home is equally beautiful.

  42. I can’t get over how much I love that house! I could live in the laundry room alone!

  43. So happy I dried all those hydrangeas this year, too! 🙂

  44. I visited the idea house in August. Although it wasn’t dressed for Christmas it was still an absolutely amazing home. Thanks for the tour. I love seeing it decorated.

  45. This house is so fine! Thanks so much for sharing.

  46. Glad I didn’t throw the dried hydrangea away! Thanks!

  47. Ok rockstar so did you just find this on your way in to town!? 🙂 hehe. So pretty! Maybe if you move in……you could spot me a room? 🙂

  48. You should have called me. I would have joined you! I’ve been wanting to go see that house with someone. It looks seriously fabulous!

  49. I love everything…especially the laundry room! Thanks for sharing, Karianne!

  50. My favorite idea is #20. I don’t take up much space. They probably wouldn’t even know I was there. SIGH!!! xo Laura

  51. HI Karianne, I love your takeaways from the lovely house! I just wanted to let you know that I am finally getting to watch the Home for the Holidays series, and I have enjoyed it very much so far. I was in the grocery store the other day, and with the holiday baking items I saw the nabisco chocolate wafers. I remember thinking…what are those for? I vaguely remembered that they were used to make something with cream in it, and thought maybe I should search for a recipe. Then today I see your icebox cake and thought “aha!” . I will be making your cake for my Christmas party for sure! I wanted an easy recipe for something other than cookies. Thanks! 🙂

  52. Lots of great ideas in this house!

    I really like useful laundry rooms. The stacked units in a closet just don’t cut it!

  53. LOVE. I was just in Nashville this weekend and we weren’t able to go. SO thank you for the recap! ;}

  54. oh my gosh i am in love!!!!!!!!!!!

  55. Lip-smacking gorgeous, Kari! Thank you for sharing.

  56. Stunning home! It’s worth a trip to Nashville. I can stop by and see Graceland (stuck in a time warp) Loved every detail of this home. Sure wish I would have dried more hydrangeas this year.

  57. SWOON!! Oh my, I just want to move in (and I live in beautiful Southern CA)! Thanks for sharing the awesome tips/ideas.

  58. Love this house!! Does anyone have a ‘How To’ on the burlap wreaths and swags?

  59. Does anyone know the color of the exterior paint? I’ve been looking at Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter, but this is a little more taupe, which I like! Anybody know where I can find this information? I’ve searched the Southern Living page that she linked to for the details of the house, but no luck!

  60. This house is seriously breathtaking, and these ideas are amazing! I hope my home will look half as gorgeous as this someday.

  61. Sheryll & Critters. :

    Wow, I am in love with that house! Did you by any chance ask or look to see if the fireplace was a real wood burning or propane? I wish mine was propane. Thought of converting it, but it would cost a fortune….. and I would have to pipe it around and to the back of the house, cause of no where to put the propane tank.

  62. Awesome! Its really remarkable piece of writing, I have got much clear idea about from this post.

  63. Do you have a tutorial for idea#8- the coffee table? Or was it a kit? love it!Maybe you could convince my husband to make it:)