In a truly southern home, the kitchen may as well be called the ‘living room.’ It’s where we gather and chatter, commiserate and contemplate. I’ve been to many events in grand homes with palatial sitting areas, decks and views yet all I can recall are the kitchens. Maybe it’s the anticipation of what’s cooking or the warmth and familiarity of the space. Whatever draws us in, the kitchen is, indeed, the heart of the home.

In the Nashville Southern Living Showcase Home (presently making its debut in Dorset Park just off Granny White Pike), the kitchen is the heart of the matter—by design. The first floor layout embraces our natural inclination to gather in the kitchen. The bright, open space is only a few steps from the front door and flanked by inviting areas for milling, relaxing and (of course) dining. The space embodies the concept of southern hospitality.

Mind you, this is a “Showcase Home,” so no detail has been spared in presenting the absolute latest and greatest in a chef’s kitchen. Design elements and product selections were made by Castle Homes Interior Designer and Heather Looney, who form the in-house design team of show house builder Castle Homes. From premier appliances and hardware to durable surfaces and generous conveniences, this kitchen has it all.

Here’s a quick list of the must-see touches:

–  A highly functional center island constructed of Calcutta Gold honed marble with thickened edge, containing a pop-up lifter for a kitchen mixer, towel pull-out and Asko dishwasher
–  Perimeter counters in Caesarstone (a non-porous, mineral-based surfacing product) with a mosaic natural stone backsplash
–  Maple cabinets, custom crafted for the space by Larsen Cabinet Shop and painted an “Origami White” for a fresh, open feel
–  A Wolf dual fuel 48” range with double ovens, topped by a pewter finished hood, as well as a Wolf microwave drawer
–  An enameled, cast-iron farmhouse sink with apron front and parq chrome, bridge-style faucet—both by Kohler
–  A Sub-Zero 27” wide, tower refrigerator/freezer with a new flush inset with cabinet panel doors
–  Entire area, including adjacent breakfast nook, features low VOC paint, 3”-thick, coffee-stained oak flooring and fresh, ample and attractive lighting and natural color schemes for walls and upholstery

“This showcase home is about southern hospitality, and we didn’t forget a key part of being hospitable is cooking,” Designer Heather Looney summarizes. “Every square inch of this area is inviting, comfortable and welcoming…and ready for gourmet cooking.” While this home is a true showcase of the grandest products and designs, Looney offers some practical design insights so we can all add a little “Southern Living” to our kitchens. Here are the take-aways.

–  Counter intelligence: Choose durable surfaces for lasting functionality and beauty, and keep those surfaces as uncluttered as possible to make food preparation simple.
–  Bright ideas: Don’t skimp on good lighting in the kitchen, and select soft, natural colors for draperies, cabinets and walls to enhance the view from within.
–  Appliance reliance: Invest in appliances that will meet your family’s needs long term. Even if you can’t attain the Sub-Zero or Wolf selections, opt for good performing, sturdy and generously proportioned refrigerators, dishwashers and ranges.
–  Soft landings: Contrast the hard surfaces of kitchen cabinets and counters with plenty of upholstered seating and drapery panels.
–  Open up: If you’re considering a remodel, find ways to open up space around your kitchen to make all that southern gathering and chattering more comfortable and possible.

Get firsthand kitchen inspiration by touring The Southern Living Showcase Home between October 21 – November 6. For more details, visit the Showcase Home on Facebook and Twitter.