Every year, Southern Living builds three Idea Houses -- homes designed to showcase the best new ideas in architecture and interior design. Here, our editors reveal their favorite design tips and architectural innovations from each of the 2005 houses, located in Atlanta, Georgia; Choudrant, Louisiana; and DeLand, Florida.
We've included links to virtual tours of each Idea House, plus driving directions to the homes themselves. Feel free to grab a cup of coffee, sit down, and explore the highlights of the these Southern Living Idea Houses.
Idea 1: Strapped for space? Simple painting strategies can make your home seem larger than it really is.
Located only two miles from downtown Atlanta, Parkview combines big-city allure with a relaxed and comfortable style. The open floor plan is not enormous, yet the house still seems spacious.
To create this effect, the design team used similar colors on the walls to make the rooms flow together better. In this house,
all the walls, trimwork, ceilings, and built-ins in the main living spaces are painted a cream hue to give the space continuity.
Idea 2: Jazz up your more formal rooms with creative touches and design techniques.
Throughout the house, interior designer Mary Margarett Nevin went out of her way not to match all the furniture and accessories, which gives the house a casual, unstuffy attitude.
In the dining room (shown here), she arranged different pairs of chairs -- some leather and some fabric-covered ones. "Dining
rooms are more difficult to make interesting," she says. "My secret is that I never use all the same chairs -- never ever."
Idea 3: Individuality is the rule for children's bedrooms; they're the perfect place to experiment with unusual fabrics and decorating ideas.
In this children's room, two twin beds share an extra-wide, custom upholstered headboard and are covered with floral matelasse coverlets. In between the beds, a small table decoupaged with sheets of music is the kind of piece that stays in the family for years because it's so quirky and priceless.
Idea 4: Love a rug's color and sophistication, but hate having to vacuum and mop in the same room? Paint a design on your hardwoods.
Our Louisiana Idea House is built of aged cypress, copper, and brick. Designer Connie Smith Howard and assistant Jessica Gilmore achieved a wonderful balance of comfort and style.
To give the dining room its own masterpiece, Connie designed a painted "rug" that lets the color and grain of the wood floor shine through. By applying wood stain and paint to the bare pine boards, decorative painters Marsha Nealy and Shelley Edgerton created an ornate center medallion surrounded by trailing vines and a scalloped border.
Idea 5: A sleeping porch lets you slumber on warm summer nights in comfort and style.
At the Louisiana Idea House, the second-floor playroom opens to a deep porch. Wooden daybeds, treated to withstand outdoor
use and outfitted with pillows, let this open-air area function as a sleeping porch. Fabric shades sewn from a weather-resistant
fabric can be raised or lowered between the porch posts.
Idea 6: Potting isn't just for the garage or back porch anymore. Having a fully-equipped space dedicated to gardening makes growing those beauties easy and fuss-free.
Near the garage, there's a small workroom for arranging flowers and potting plants. The countertop consists of poured concrete
that is tinted with green colorants. Given a rock-face edge, this thick work surface looks decades old. The slender, stainless
steel, trough-shaped sink is perfect for both conditioning freshly cut flowers and cleaning golf clubs.
Idea 7: If you enjoy grilling and dining out of doors, consider adding an outdoor kitchen to your screened-in porch for even more convenience.
At the Florida Idea House, architects Carson Looney and Mark Jones masterfully melded form and function -- an accomplishment readily apparent in this innovative outdoor grilling porch.
Dining alfresco is a breeze, thanks to an outdoor kitchen complete with a grill, small refrigerator, and pot faucet. Retractable
power screens installed around the porch keep insects at bay and provide shade when necessary. They roll all the way up at
the touch of a button for unobstructed views.
Idea 8: A little imagination goes a long way in making overnight guests feel at home. Give them even more room to relax by incorporating a lounging area into the guest bedroom.
The Florida Idea House features a mix of tweed fabrics and leather in deep chocolate and cool teal. This custom piece near
the center of the guest room creates two separate areas: a sitting room and a bedroom. On the sitting room side, the cabinet
houses a TV and fold-down desk. On the bedroom side, there are drawers for storage and a space to hang a flat-screen TV.
Idea 9: Make the most of your kitchen space with an island and a rollaway cabinet.
The best kitchens incorporate storage and extra counterspace in smart ways. Here, a cabinet with a butcher-block top hides
away in one end of the island and rolls out to add more prep space. An electrical outlet installed in the island makes it
easy to plug in appliances such as a mixer, toaster, or blender.