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VOL. 37 | NO. 22 | Friday, May 31, 2013

Southern Living Idea House spotlights classic regionalism

By Hollie Deese

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The Southern Living Idea House spotlights Page|Duke Landscape Architects, Castle Homes, Historical Concepts and Phoebe Howard Interior Design.

-- Michelle Morrow | Nashville Ledger

When local landscape architects partners Ben Page and Gavin Duke were tapped to design the gardens and courtyard at the soon-to-open Southern Living Idea House at Fontanel, they knew right away what they wanted to do.

Their mission was to show off some of the classic techniques, plantings and elements unique to the Nashville area, particularly drawing from the past for a “greatest hits’ in local landscaping.

“This is the new South,” says Page of Page|Duke Landscape Architects. “This new version encompasses this whole thing of farm-to-table, home-grown food and local, native plant communities. It is all going back to early 20th Century, late 19th Century ideas.’’

Southern Living Idea House

Fontanel Mansion

June 29–Dec. 29, Wed.–Sun., 9 a.m.–3 p.m.

Tickets: Adults $12, seniors 60 and up $10, children 6-15 $5, students and retired military $10, active military and children under 6 are free.

A portion of the profits will go to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Information: southernliving.com/ideahouse

“Regionalism has gotten to be a very exciting thing for everybody,’’ he adds. “It’s appropriate, and much more environmentally sensitive, and more cost-effective. It showcases our deep roots. There’s nothing wrong with having a plant that has done well for 200 years in this area and use it creatively and in a new way.”

Their traditional work was then overlaid with the latest Southern Living Plant Collection flowers to showcase the color trends of the season, with many of the plant varieties used just a few years old. The result is a perfectly curated space for consumers to glean dozens of ideas.

Landing the Southern Living Idea House puts a spotlight on Nashville, Fontanel Mansion and all of those involved, including Castle Homes, Historical Concepts and Phoebe Howard Interior Design.

It will be open to the public June 29-Dec. 29, Wednesdays through Sundays. Southern Living will publish a complete tour of the project in its August issue.

The magazine’s Idea House in 2012 was in Senoia, Ga., a historic farmhouse renovation. The idea house program has been ongoing for more than 20 years, building and renovating homes from “brownstones to beach houses,’’ according to the magazine’s website.

Page and Duke were given strict budget parameters, resulting in ideas that any number of homeowners could find room for in their budgets.

Not that Page doesn’t still think about elements that didn’t make the cut.

“We had a very wonderful rustic picket fence that was going to go across the front of the courtyard that got value engineered out, but I would say that about 80 percent of what our vision was got put in place,” Page says. “You’re going to see a lot of things that are appropriate for even modest scale budgets.”

They were, of course, awarded some luxuries most homeowners don’t have, unless they are building from the ground up, like being able to orient the house and gardens to best take advantage of sun exposure and wind patterns.

The house, which was built by Castle Homes and will be converted to a bed and breakfast when its stint as an inspirational structure is over, features five farmhouse-style buildings forming a compound with nearly 3,000 square feet of porches and patios – perfect for outdoor entertainment.

“Everything you see out there is predicated on double use with the big porches going to be used as gathering places for artists,” Page says.

And while the gardens look great now, Page says they will really hit their stride in a couple of years, just like any garden space they create for a client would.

“This is only 20 minutes old,” he says. “It takes about three years to get it all to settle down. The first year is a trial run of things, the second year things really start to settle down, and the third year you get a real garden out of something.”

Also on site are “Porter’s Pond” and “Beverly’s Waterfall,” which were dedicated on May 30. The waterfall, donated by Gary Yamamoto in honor of his wife Beverly, was mandated for water runoff.

The decision was then made by Gary Shiebler, key promoter of the annual Porter Wagoner Memorial Artists and Anglers Fishing Tournament, to turn the pond into a catch-and-release fishing pool.

“It is a really cool facility that we feel very fortunate to have worked on because the architecture is very keenly in the Southern vernacular,” Page says. “And our landscape imaging evolved into something that felt very regional in imprint.”