Fontanel Joins Forces With Southern Living To Enhance Estate Experience

By Melinda Hughey

Step into a typical Southern home and a well-worn copy of Southern Living magazine is apt to be one of the first things you’ll find. For 47 years, this publication ‘s status as the “bible” of Southern culture, cooking, travel, house plans, gardening and home decor has guided nearly three million readers . And, each year, when the magazine puts together a development team to build one of its celebrated Idea Houses, it’s a very big deal.

When they build their biggest Idea House ever on the grounds of a country music icon’s former estate, it’s a sure bet that crowds will flock to gather inspiration for their own homes and gardens. And, that’s the driving force behind the 2013 Idea House unveiled last week at Barbara Mandrell’s Fontanel Estate in Nashville.

Patterned after a 150-year-old Middle Tennessee farmhouse, but with a twist in the form of flanking guesthouses and apartments linked by a sprawling porch, the Idea House is expected to draw thousands to Fontanel between now and December 29, after which it will be converted to a private boutique hotel. A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales are being donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

Further enhancing the Idea House experience, the magazine announced it’s first-ever Biscuits & Jam Concert Series. Emerging country artists will perform acoustic selections, while guests will be treated to a picnic-themed menu featuring Southern Living’s famed Test Kitchen recipes.  The hour-long live concerts will be staged in the courtyard of the Idea House every Sunday evening from July 7 – August 25.

The addition of the Idea House marks a new chapter of expansion for Fontanel. Not only can visitors tour Mandrell’s 27,000-square-foot mansion, but they can explore her tour bus, have lunch or dinner at Cafe’ Fontanella, shop at a newly-revamped Farmhouse Gift Shop and Coffee Bar, grab a Goo-Goo Cluster or ice cream cone and the new Goo-Goo Outpost, sail through the treetops via the new Adventure Works Zipline, of play 18 holes of disc golf on the first ever PDGA-approved Prodigy Signature Course. Later this fall, the award-winning Fayetteville, Tennessee-based Prichard’s Distillery opens a second location on the Estate.

Group sales staff at Fontanel can package a one-day visit including both houses and a meal at discounted rates. Booking information is available at and additional details about the Idea House can be found at