• Interior designer Meredith Ellis, of Austin, was chosen to design Southern Living’s 2018 Idea House that is now open for tours. Ellis is the daughter of Jim and Barbara Thomas of Fredericksburg. — Submitted photo
  • The front porch of the 2018 Southern Living Idea House helps make it “a Texas house.”-Photo courtesy of Southern Living
  • The sitting room was designed to be a comfortable gathering space for friends and family.-Photo courtesy of Southern Living

'Southern Living' in Austin

Meredith Ellis designer for magazine's 2018 Idea House that is now open for tours

Southern Living magazine has featured an “Idea House” in its pages for 26 years, and this season, the home has a Fredericksburg connection and is practically next door in Austin.

The 2018 Idea House is unique in that it is located in a major city, it is not part of a planned development and it was a renovation project rather than a new build.

But that’s not all.

The home was designed by Meredith Ellis, a graduate of Comfort High School and daughter of Jim and Barbara Thomas of Fredericksburg.

“This has been such an honor for me because Southern Living is such a reputable magazine,” Meredith said.

The 3,200-square-foot home with four bedrooms and 4½ baths, built in 1988, is located at 6401 Rusty Ridge Drive in Austin (78731 zip code).

Tours began June 15 and will continue through Nov. 8. And as in the past, it will draw thousands of visitors from all over the country.

The Idea House will be featured in the August issue of Southern Living, which will hit newsstands in mid-July.

“This is a chance for people to see new things done in a home,” Meredith said, adding, “and it’s Southern.”

“I’m so excited about it,” she said.

 

Getting started

The process for the 2018 Idea House actually began in 2017 when Southern Living reached out to Meredith, who is a part of a designer network as Meredith Ellis Design.

Southern Living chooses a different destination in the south each year for its Idea House. This year, they wanted the home to be in a major city and they wanted it to be a renovation.

“One of the most appealing things about a renovation versus building is the cost effectiveness and the timeline,” Meredith said.

“Austin,” she said, “was such a natural for them because it is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. It is so Southern, but in a different way.”

Along with Meredith, the team also included Chris Sanders of Sanders Architecture and David Wilkes of David Wilkes Builders.

They found the property in October of 2017, closed in November and began the four-month renovation timeline in January of 2018.

“In the two months we were waiting for our permits, the architect and I were ferociously drawing to figure out a game plan so when we could get in there, we were ready to go,” Meredith said.

She said throughout the process they worked closely with the team from Southern Living.

“They were awesome to deal with,” Meredith said.

In creating the Idea House, Meredith said, “We got to use great products, and pretty much as the decorator, I got to do what I wanted.”

“It’s beautiful,” she said. “It is very classic with a lot of Southern charm.”

What originally drew Meredith to the home was its low country look and its use of limestone.

“It is very much a Texas house,” she said, with its big front porches, ceiling fans and entertaining space.

 

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