Press, Design + Build

Buchanan Construction Builds the 2020 Southern Living Idea House

Buchanan Construction Builds the 2020 Southern Living Idea House

For the 2020 Idea House, working alongside an amazing team, we built a spectacular escape that shows off Asheville, North Carolina’s down-to-earth style.


Come October, the leaf peepers putter bumper to bumper along the Blue Ridge Parkway to take in its famed autumn color. So when it came time to decide on a location for this year’s Idea House, we headed north (well, not too far) for a nice dose of Western North Carolina’s mountain magic. Asheville has really exploded as a hot spot for outdoor adventurers, innovative artisans, and award-winning chefs. Not to mention the fact that Biltmore is a picturesque Southern pilgrimage. We broke ground in The Ramble Biltmore Forest, a secluded 1,000-acre community (part of the original farm founded by George W. Vanderbilt in 1897) nestled into a wooded mountainside. It’s around 15 minutes from the action downtown but feels like it’s a world away. We called on a talented team from across the region to bring our Appalachian getaway to life: interior designer Lauren Liess, builders Rick Buchanan, Jason Norton, and Rodger Gardner of Buchanan Construction, architects Kate Campbell and Beau Clowney of Beau Clowney Architects, and landscape architect Greg Cloos.



“We wanted to design a classic mountain house with a nostalgic reinterpretation of the vernacular architecture of the North Carolina region,” says Beau. “It’s full of light and air with classical proportions.” The blueprint (a collection of smaller cabins layered around a larger one) represents the idea of a family farmhouse that’s been added onto over time. “Great Southern homes have a connection between indoors and out. This house feels like a quaint cottage in the woods,” Kate adds. Lauren infused the interiors with soulful antiques, earthy color palettes, and cozy gathering spaces that are just as relaxed as the beautiful Blue Ridge setting. The result? A laid-back escape for year-round mountain living and getting together with family and friends. Step inside this year’s home for inspiration.


Setting the Tone

The Inspiration
“The location really was my starting point. My vision came from the views outside the windows of the house,” says Lauren.

The Palette
“People choose to live in the North Carolina mountains because of the natural beauty of the surroundings here, so I emphasized the different shades of green (which I pulled from trees and other plants) as well as the texture of the wood,” she says.

The Feeling
“This is a space for exhaling, relaxing, and not worrying about anything else,” Lauren says.

Designer Picks
Lauren chose fabrics and surfaces that were mostly neutral but provided a lot of texture. Here are some of the materials she used throughout the home.

  1. Taylor King in Kale
  2. Squid Flower in Black and White,
  3. Fern Star in Lou Lou’s Pistachio,
  4. Veranda Marble in Antiqued White,
  5. Terra Folk Bouquet in Honey,
  6. Live Sawn White Oak in Custom Finish,
  7. Oak Cabinetry,
  8. Emerald Designer Edition Momentum, SW 9530,


Inviting Entry

A wide terrace greets visitors. James Hardie’s Artisan lap siding and HardieShingle siding (on the archway) are painted with Sherwin-Williams Emerald Rain Refresh Exterior Acrylic Latex with custom tint in Quill Extra White (SW 7006), which stands up against the weather. The front door looks welcoming in Sherwin-Williams Rural Green (SW 6418) (shown on left).


Living Room

In this open floor plan, the living room had to be equal parts hangout spot, entertaining center, and functional pass-through. A jute rug, layered with a vintage kilim, helps distinguish the space. Deep sofas and a large ottoman (from the Lauren Liess Collection by Taylor King) can seat a crowd. “I often use new upholstery but bring in quirky antiques—like the Victorian armchair—to add charm,” Lauren says of her first purchase for the house.



Lauren created a focal point above the range with terra-cotta tiles (Folk Bouquet from her line by Architectural Ceramics) that’s the perfect backdrop for displaying essentials like the Southern Living Collection for Dillard’s cast-iron casserole dish and other kitchen solutions. The sleek Wellborn Cabinet, Inc, cabinetry has built-in organizers and a touch-to-open wastebasket and drawers, making it functional for busy families and great for entertaining. The chimney-style range hood (with an oak board) adds a historical touch to the new space.


Dining Room

Tall Marvin Ultimate Casement (Stationary) windows wrap around the dining room, making it seem like a glassed-in porch. Forgoing draperies and painting the frames glossy green (Sherwin-Williams Emerald Designer Edition Momentum, SW 9530) helps draw attention to the pine trees in the background. “I kept the space spare so all eyes would be fixed on the view,” says Lauren. A traditional farm table from her collection by Woodbridge Furniture anchors the modern metal Windsor chairs from Wayfair.




A busy cottage needs a quiet room to retreat. The comfortable leather furniture (Lauren Liess Collection by Taylor King), floor-to-ceiling oak bookshelves, and painted ceiling (Sherwin-Williams Emerald Designer Edition Momentum, SW 9530) with reverse-shiplap detailing make this a cozy spot to relax. “Dark colors have a cavelike effect and create a sense of privacy,” says Lauren. With a stocked bar cart, the library can transition into a cocktail lounge later in the evening.



Screened Porch 

“Living in the mountains calls for a wood-burning fireplace,” says Rick. A screened porch off the living room combines the best of indoors and out. The team installed Zuri Premium Decking in Chestnut, which resembles the interior’s hardwoods but resists scratches and stains. In the living area, a stone coffee table from The Home Depot and LEE Industries sofas covered in Sunbrella Spinnaker Cream fabric invite guests to gather around the fire.


Sitting Area 

Gold velvet chairs (from the designer’s collection by Taylor King) encourage passersby to plop down and enjoy the view. “Slipper chairs are comfortable and more noncommittal than armchairs. This is a great sneak-away spot for conversation during a party,” Lauren says.


Main Bedroom

Reid Classics mahogany canopy bed (topped with bedding from The Home Depot) and Morris & Co. Meadow Sweet wall-paper are historical nods. Decorating tip: Crisp white bedding grounds the sculptural furniture and ornate wallpaper in this space.

Laundry Room

An apron-front sink, lace curtain, and moveable zinc-topped potting table add farmhouse style, while the vintage drying rack brings a Victorian detail to the laundry.



Twin Room

A bold wallpaper by Morris & Co. “helps form memories of a space,” says Lauren of family homes. A pair of Reid Classics mahogany twin beds topped with cozy quilts keeps guests feeling snug. A pair of plush armchairs from Lauren’s collection with Taylor King are perfect spots to curl up with a book before bed.