Diehard fans of Time Inc.'s Southern Living can live in a Southern Living-branded house filled with Southern Living-branded décor, thanks to the brand's formidable stable of brand extensions. There are home goods (furniture, tableware, bedding, potted plants), house plans, Idea Houses, and, as of last year, a hotel collection.
And if that's not enough, now they can live in an actual Southern Living community. The new Southern Living Inspired Communities is a collection of seven Southern Living-approved real estate developments.
“Southern Living has been advocating principles for neighborhood planning for years,” said Lindsay Bierman, the magazine's editor in chief. “It was the logical extension of the Idea House program to move into turning this into an entire neighborhood. Someone’s going to do the development work, so it might as well be us setting the standards.”
The communities, in cities including Tallahassee, Fla., to Asheville, N.C., to Chattanooga, Tenn., were chosen by the magazine’s editorial and marketing teams for their proximity to the I-85 corridor, where the housing market has been rebounding. Despite being set in warm climates, the developments aren’t being marketed as retirement communities but as primary homes, said Kristen Payne, the magazine’s executive director of marketing. Most are the work of Southern Living Custom Builder program members and are either new developments or new phases of existing ones. The homes will average around $300,000.
"We’ve featured homes in many of these communities over the years, so we were already familiar with them and knew they were doing great work," Bierman said. "We want you to be able to drive through any one of these communities and say, ‘It looks just like what I see in the magazine.’"
A former architect, Bierman has been consulting on the homes’ design and pushing for landscape conservation. “These communities are going to be around for a very long time, and my measure of success is that they improve with age, which is not often the case with some of these builder spec developments that you see going up,” he said.