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.


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