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Plein Air in the News

Southern Living house six weeks from debut

Oxford Eagle
05/15/2008

TAYLOR — The centerpiece of Taylor’s Plein Air development has gone from construction site to picture-perfect this week, as Southern Living readies to reveal it to the world this summer.

Crews of stylists and decorators have been working long hours to prepare the house for a five-day photography session next week. Meanwhile, local volunteers are gearing up to man the house during its four-month public-tour period.

“Seeing them furnish and decorate a house in 36 hours is pretty wild, and something you have to watch to fully appreciate,” Plein Air developer Campbell McCool said this week.

“It’s gone from being pretty much finished with construction on Monday morning to decked out now, with curtains hung and toys in place for the child in this model family. The details are amazing.”
Designers and decorators from the Memphis, Tenn., firm Looney Ricks Kiss began the whirlwind process Monday of furnishing the house for the lifestyle of an imaginary young family with two children.

Azaleas, oaks, maples and begonias also took their places this week like an “instant yard,” McCool said, before the photographers arrive Sunday.

Dream house

The Southern Living model home is a first for Mississippi in the lifestyle magazine’s 18-year-old Idea House program, which has typically focused on larger markets and metropolitan areas.

The Plein Air neighborhood was recommended to Southern Living as a potential site by architect John Tee, the development’s lead architect who’s designed several Idea Houses for the magazine.

The 3,000-square-foot house will be one of three featured in the Southern Living’s August issue; the other two are in Whisper Mountain, N.C., and Fort Worth, Texas.

The Taylor house will be open for public tours from June 28 to Oct. 19. Hours will be Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays from 1-5 p.m.

Some 20,000 people are expected to visit the house — from curious area residents to home-design pilgrims who plan their summer vacations around Southern Living’s annual showcase.

Of the $5 admission fee to tour an Idea House, $2 goes to a local charity. Proceeds from the Taylor house will be dedicated to Oxford Medical Ministries Clinic, which provides free preventive healthcare to the working uninsured.

Volunteer opportunities

The clinic stands to raise thousands of dollars in exchange for providing volunteers to help staff the model home.

But because the clinic’s operation depends on volunteers already, the local Retired Seniors Volunteer Program is stepping up to recruit and coordinate additional helpers from around the community.

“I think it will be fun to be there and be able to show the home,” RSVP Director Arledia Bennett said. “It’s a big honor that Taylor has been chosen to have one of these homes, so we’re really excited about it.”

Volunteers will be assisting the pair of house managers which have already been hired to oversee the public-tour operation. Volunteers’ duties may include directing guests, taking admission fees and sharing information about the house.

RSVP already has more than 200 members, Bennett said, although not all will be interested in working at the Idea House. The organization will also be coordinating non-member volunteers of all ages to work at the house.

Those over 55 who want to volunteer at the Idea House may join RSVP to get the additional benefits of being insured on the job and getting their fuel expenses reimbursed, Bennett said.

A volunteer-training session has been set for June 25 and 26.

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