I’m not an inte­rior design critic or writer. But show me a beau­ti­ful house when I have my cam­era in-hand and I can play one on the internet.

I wasn’t par­tic­u­larly sur­prised that P. Allen Smith’s Moss Moun­tain Farm home looks like a spread from Tra­di­tional Home mag­a­zine. After all, he’s firmly rooted in the South, resist­ing to move his media empire to New York City or Los Ange­les. He has that whole South­ern ele­gance thing going on. The house is located on a 650-acre spread over­look­ing the Arkansas River Val­ley. And he has devel­oped a cer­tain per­sona that sug­gests tra­di­tional rather than contemporary.

I was sur­prised, how­ever, that he opened the doors and let 25 guest blog­gers dur­ing a recent hosted tour called Garden2Blog 2013  just wan­der through with their cameras.

A beautifully curated arrangement of apples on a sideboard in the foyer of P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm

A beau­ti­fully curated arrange­ment of apples on a side­board in the foyer of Moss Moun­tain Farm

Smith kindly pro­vided a wel­come and intro­duc­tory remarks that described his his­tor­i­cal research into South­ern his­toric houses and the efforts to build Moss Moun­tain Farm home in the Greek Revival style four years ago. Because of his research into the char­ac­ter­is­tics of period houses, his house is almost a study in archi­tec­ture of the time. It is a three-story struc­ture with high ceil­ings, deep walls, hid­den doors and screened porches extend­ing along the back of the house over­look­ing the Arkansas River Valley.

The inte­rior is a lit­tle crowded by con­tem­po­rary design stan­dards, filled with stuff chairs, arrange­ments of col­lec­tions and stacks of book on tables. It’s all very com­fort­able and pleasing—the kind of place you would enjoy curl­ing up with a good book and a glass of wine.

I cer­tainly hope Smith gets to do that with all his busy-ness. He seems to be for­ever launch­ing some­thing, mak­ing some­thing, pro­mot­ing some­thing, talk­ing about some­thing, doing, doing, doing.

P. Allen Smith's light-filled kitchen of white-on-white white and marble

P. Allen Smith’s light-filled kitchen of white-on-white white and marble

In addi­tion to his gar­den­ing and cook­ing activ­i­ties, Smith is also a tal­ented artist. When he went off to study in Eng­land his grand­mother asked if his plans were to study paint­ing. Smith demurred, say­ing he planned to study hor­ti­cul­ture. “Well, you’re a damned fool,” she replied. (Grand­moth­ers in the South curse in a very charm­ing way, when necessary.)

The house is so photo per­fect that some of the blog­gers on the tour whis­pered, “Do you think he really lives here?” Cer­tainly he must, but I caught more than one peak­ing in kitchen cab­i­nets. I wish I had the nerve to peak inside the refrig­er­a­tor for signs of habitation—a car­ton of milk, some left­over chili, a half-eaten car­ton of vanilla yogurt. I did spot a loaf of store bought bread (gasp) under a cake dome.

White-on-white is the predominant theme in P. Allen Smith's kitchen at Moss Mountain Farm.

White-on-white is the pre­dom­i­nant theme in Smith’s kitchen.

White-on-white rooms have become cliché in the home dec­o­rat­ing mag­a­zines. In fact, the edi­tor of Archi­tec­tural Digest recently com­mented that the major­ity of the pho­tos she sees cross her desk are white-on-white. Peo­ple are so afraid of color!

Nev­er­the­less, my favorite room in the house was the white-on-white, sun-filled kitchen. Kitchens get a pass on my judg­ment against white-on-white because I think the food should take cen­ter stage and not get lost in a sea of color. White also seems more san­i­tary. If you’ve ever had a white-on-white kitchen, you know why that’s the case. You see every lit­tle mari­nara splash and panko bread crumb. Scrub, scrub, wipe, wipe.

A huge, marble-topped cen­ter island fills the cen­ter of the kitchen. White ceramic ware arrange­ments are art­fully arranged here and there. There are milky white walls, white appli­ances and white glass pen­dant lighting.

An arrangement of egg cups, a ceramic egg tray and wire egg organizer in the white-on-white kitchen at P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm

Egg cups, a ceramic egg tray and wire egg organizer.

White-on-white arrangement in the kitchen of P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm

More light and a white-on-white arrangement

What’s an ele­gant farm­house with­out a mud room? Well, you haven’t ever seen a mud room like P. Allen Smith’s mud room. I saw no mud. There was evi­dence that this is a work­ing area since there were bot­tles of plant fer­til­izer, rolls of paper tow­els and a jum­ble (an ele­gant jum­ble) of flower arrang­ing containers.

P Allen Smith's elegant Mud Room

P. Allen Smith’s idea of a “mud room”

The upstairs screened-in porch is arranged as a sleep­ing porch, with a deep, hand-forged, open-air cop­per tub at one end. Smith still seemed a bit uncer­tain about the decor.

I hope it doesn’t look like an infirmary.”

P Allen Smith's screened-in sleeping porch overlooking the Arkansas River Valley

The screened-in sleep­ing porch over­looks the Arkansas River Val­ley and sleeps three comfortably.

Upstairs a cen­tral foyer is cram packed with a cen­tral table and a col­lec­tion of nature-related trea­sures. There are only two bed­rooms on the sec­ond floor of the three-story house–a guest room dec­o­rated in greys and mauves and the mas­ter bedroom.

The writing desk in P. Allen Smith's master bedroom showcases his love of books.

The writ­ing desk in P. Allen Smith’s mas­ter bed­room show­cases his love of books.

 

P. Allen Smith's master bathroom  is decorated with an antique mirror collection.

P. Allen Smith’s mas­ter bath­room is dec­o­rated with an antique mir­ror collection.

Guest room in mauves and greys at P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm

The guest room is dec­o­rated in mauves and greys.

Smith has cre­ated a com­fort­able and lovely home to go with his beau­ti­ful gar­dens. And speak­ing of gar­dens, P. Allen Smith’s expan­sive gar­dens will be the sub­ject of another post. Soon.

 

Robin
Keep Reading

Coun­try liv­ing can be ele­gant. P. Allen Smith’s Moss Moun­tain Farm is a per­fect example.

Back in May I was sur­prised and pleased to be invited to join a bunch of other blog­gers to visit P. Allen Smith’s Moss Moun­tain Farm in Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas, for Garden2Blog13. Even if you don’t rec­og­nize his name, you prob­a­bly rec­og­nize his face. P. Allen Smith is the gently-Southern-accented spokesper­son for Proven Win­ners plants, is a tele­vi­sion gar­den celebrity and has a whole slew of books on food and gardening.

A grand old oak tree dominates the entrance to P Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm home, Little Rock, Arkansas

A grand old oak tree dom­i­nates the entrance to P Allen Smith’s Moss Moun­tain Farm home, Lit­tle Rock, Arkansas.

Smith’s Moss Moun­tain Farm is about a 45 minute drive from Lit­tle Rock. Although not a pub­lic space—after all, it is his home—even the aver­age Joe can tour the farm with reser­va­tions and a paid ticket. Smith and his highly pro­fes­sional staff do such a vol­ume of tour busi­ness that they have built pub­lic restrooms and opened a gift shop. Still, we were wel­come to wan­der not just the gar­dens, but also his ele­gant home.

Robin Ripley and P. Allen Smith

Robin Rip­ley and P. Allen Smith

The Greek Revival house at Moss Moun­tain Farm looks as if it has been there for decades. In fact, it was built just built less than five years ago but with the ben­e­fit of metic­u­lous research into his­toric houses. Like many older houses, the house looks as if it has been expanded here and there over the years. Even the exte­rior patina of the paint is art­fully aged and chipped to resem­ble a his­toric home. (I’ll share some pho­tos of inside the home in a sep­a­rate post.)

Coral red chairs make an accent statement on the front porch of P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm home.

Coral red chairs make an accent state­ment on the front porch of P. Allen Smith’s Moss Moun­tain Farm home.

Aside from enjoy­ing wan­der­ing through the orna­men­tal and veg­etable gar­dens I par­tic­u­larly appre­ci­ated the intel­li­gent and inter­est­ing pre­sen­ta­tions from Jobe’s Organ­ics fer­til­iz­ers and Star Roses and Plants. There was a cool hands-on demon­stra­tion from Troy-Bilt of their lawn care prod­ucts. (I’m still dis­ap­pointed I didn’t win the big prize of that one). Bon­nie Plants, which I didn’t real­ize I have been buy­ing for years, gave a fun pre­sen­ta­tion. And Laguna Ponds pro­vided a multi-part, step-by-step demon­stra­tion of how to build a pond.

A view from the gardens of P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm home

A view from the gar­dens of P. Allen Smith’s Moss Moun­tain Farm home

I have lots of pho­tos to share of inside his ele­gant home and, of course, the gar­dens. Come back again to see more.

View of the Arkansas River Valley from Moss Mountain Farm

View of the Arkansas River Val­ley from Moss Moun­tain Farm

 

Update: Tour the inte­rior of P. Allen Smith’s home here.

 

Robin
Keep Reading

Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, will be released later in 2014 from Taunton Press.

Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.

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