The 2021 Southern Living Idea House: Redefining “Home”

The famous line “there’s no place like home” took on new meaning as families hunkered down in their houses to stay healthy during the pandemic. In many ways, the experience has transformed our relationship with home, a place where versatility and comfort are more important than ever. 

This newfound appreciation of “home” and all the ways it can serve a family is at the heart of the new Southern Living Idea House in Prospect, KY., just minutes outside Louisville.

“This year’s home was designed as a place where you could truly spend a lifetime—a forever home,” said Sid Evans, editor in chief of Southern Living, which has been creating signature custom homes that celebrate life in the South for more than 30 years. “We wanted it to be flexible, with multi-purpose spaces to work (and school) from home, as well as room to accommodate family, friends, or aging parents. But it also had to be beautiful, welcoming, and of course great for entertaining, and this talented team has struck that balance perfectly.”

The talented team includes Jason Black and Jimmy King of Artisan Signature Homes, Nashville-based designer Sarah Bartholomew and Atlanta-based architect Brandon Ingram. The team spent countless hours collaborating to devise an ideal layout for the house, which is situated on a bluff overlooking the Ohio River. It’s a layout that provides the perfect balance of gathering spaces and interesting nooks.

“We wanted to create a house that you had to explore, with rooms that were separate yet connected,” Black says. “That’s how this house works so well—there are lots of different rooms, but they all flow.”

The stunning 5,000-square-foot home is sophisticated yet approachable, refined yet comfortable. Black says areas were designed to take the wear of daily life, and just look better. The kitchen, for example, is clad entirely in wood – no drywall – with the idea that the wood will expand and show gaps over time, enhancing its lived-in, homey feel.

“We’ve dubbed this the forever house. You can live here, retire here, raise kids here. There’s an in-law suite with separate entry,” Black says. “Flexibility was the thought of this space.”

Most importantly, it is universally functional, especially in and around the kitchen—the hub of the home.

Inspiration in the Kitchen — and Beyond

Snagging the prime location in the house – a corner room with bright light and scenic views, situated next to the kitchen, butler’s pantry and scullery – is a colorful studio space that serves as a family epicenter where kids can tackle school projects or crafts and parents can work at a built-in desk. There’s also ample storage with cubbies for backpacks, and a hidden closet for games, art supplies and more.

“We wanted a room where you could have your home office – you could Zoom from it, the kids could do homework,” Black says of the room, which was featured on the cover of Southern Living. “It’s centrally located by the kitchen and the laundry, and it has great river views.”

A bright white, wood-clad kitchen with ample windows offers equally picturesque panoramas of the river, making it the natural gathering place for family and friends. A white oak butcher block island exudes a casual warmth and provides plenty of seating—perfect for a morning cup of coffee from the Café Specialty Drip Coffee Maker made at the adjacent morning bar just off the kitchen. Custom hardwood floors, hand-painted by artist Ken Dean, give a casual-yet-bespoke vibe underfoot. Inset Shaker-style cabinetry with burnished brass hardware flanks Monogram’s 48-inch Dual-Fuel Professional Range and Custom Hood. A hit with tour visitors so far, says Black, is the separate 36” Smart Integrated Column Refrigerator and Column Freezer from Monogram, which flank the doorway to the formal dining room.

The kitchen’s French doors open to a welcoming back porch and patio area, which features a gazebo, dining area and grilling station—an entertainment space made complete with the Monogram 24-inch Outdoor/Indoor Undercounter Refrigerator and a 15-inch Built-in Gourmet Clear Ice Maker.

Back inside, a scullery and galley-style butler’s pantry provide additional storage and prep space, with a 24-inch Built-In Drawer Microwave, 30-inch Built-In Advantium Speed Cooking Oven and a 30-inch Warming Drawer. Situated between the kitchen and the multi-purpose homework/office/studio, the appliances are convenient for grabbing snacks and drinks while working, or heating up dinner after practices.  

“We wanted to jam as much function into the kitchen, working scullery and butler’s pantry as possible, and that’s why we tried to mix so many products. At the end of the day, it’s an Idea House, so we want people to come in and be inspired,” said Black, who has worked with Monogram for years in building custom homes. 

“Monogram was the first person we recommended Southern Living chat with, and it worked out to be a great partnership.”

The Southern Living Idea House is open for tours through Dec. 19, 2021. Visit the Idea House website to read more about it, take a virtual tour and check out the elevated appliances by Monogram.

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