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"Look at this map!" gushes Trace Adkins. "Awesome!" Trace, a Civil War buff, is admiring the decor in "his" room - a gentleman's library - in the Nashville-area house that's been taken over and transformed by CMT in the TV network's second season of its Ultimate Home series.
"That's the Battle of Franklin, ladies and gentlemen," says Trace, one of a dozen entertainers and sports stars whose thoughts, hobbies, tastes and personal lifestyles have been used as a basis to transform the 3,500-square-foot house into a unique, custom-designed home.
The completed home was given away to a lucky CMT sweepstakes winner in the final episode.
Through ten half-hour episodes beginning April 10th, the show's design team remodeled the house after interviewing Trace, Mark Wills, Phil Vassar, Sara Evans, Kellie Coffey, actress Gena Lee Nolin, NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, the Trick Pony trio and NFL running back Eddie George of the Tennessee Titans.
But the team - designer Kim Nunn, carpenter Joe Parker and accessorizer Nicole Hart - didn't stop there. They also interviewed family and friends of each artist to find out what hobbies and passions excite, and also comfort, each star. Each design was been kept under wraps until unveiled in a total celebrity surprise - like the one Trace got when he saw the library based on his own interests.
"I like it ... I really do like it. It's got a warm feeling," says Trace with a smile as he looks around the very masculine room, which features a wall of books, Civil War memorabilia and a cigar humidor behind a hidden compartment.
"I think the room probably shows more of the thinking-man, Renaissance, history-buff side of me," he declares with a grin. "It's a very distinguished look. You know what it may do - it may cause some people to think that you're smarter than you really are. And that's always a good thing."
In Phil Vassar's room, a huge game room with vaulted ceilings, the decor may cause people to think he's a guy who loves to have a good time - and they'd be exactly right! The high-energy keyboard player had some definite ideas about what he wanted to see - and not see - in the finished design.
"There should be a piano in there somewhere," he declares with a smile. "But don't screw it up! Don't give me pinks! Don't mess it up ... make it cool."
The finished room reflects not only Phil's profession - yes a step-up, piano-shaped dance floor is in the room - but also some of his passions, including shoes! The decor is complete with a neon wall treatment and arcade games.
"Oh man!" explodes Phil in laughter as he gets his first view of his room. "Hey, where are the legs on this piano?" As he looks around and takes it all in, Phil gives a running commentary of everything he sees.
"Karaoke machine, stage ... It's all comin' together now," he smiles. As Phil surveys the room, the design team watches on a TV monitor in another room - hoping he'll think they've captured his personality. "I get it. Zebra print, very nice.
"Welcome to my club," cracks Phil as he checks out the footwear encased in the room's Plexiglas bar. "Shoes ... very cool."
Phil tosses a dart at the board on the wall and does a spin on the piano dance floor - on his stomach, arms and legs out, just the way he does it in his shows. Then he jumps on the sofa and sums up his impression of the room with a single word. "Sassy!" he says with a big grin.
But is there anything missing that would make the game room complete?
"A keg!" roars Phil.
The Trick Pony modern great room doesn't have a keg either, but it does manage to pull off the challenging task of incorporating the three very different personalities of Keith Burns, Ira Dean and Heidi Newfield into one room.
"What was cool about it, everything was in threes," explains Keith. "They had three guitars on the wall, three TV monitors on the wall, with three VCRs and three hats - it was just really cool."
"I don't know that I qualify as an interior designer, but I think the design team did a great job!" echoes Heidi.
Before making design decisions for the room, the design team asked Heidi, Ira and Keith which one thing each of them always had to have with them. For Heidi, the answer was simple - lipstick! "I told 'em I could live without makeup," she smiles, "but I can't live without lip gloss or lipstick. And they found a very clever way to incorporate that into the room."
"They had three containers filled with little crystal balls and little containers of lipstick," declares Ira. "Heidi has a lipstick color that was designed especially for her, and that's what they had in the vases."
While Keith doesn't know if he'd ever incorporate containers of lipstick in his own place, he does think the concept works great in this room. But after a moment of thought, Ira decides he might just be able to find a practical use for containers of lipstick at his house.
"I have enough problems when girls leave their lipstick behind," he laughs. "But that's a great idea! I might do it just so I can throw 'em in the jar and not get caught! If you're with someone and they ask, 'Whose lipstick is that?,' you can just say, 'It must've fallen out of the vase. It's part of the decor!' "
The show's final episode aired June 12, and each room or area inspired by a celebrity was displayed - including Mark Wills' study with a lawenforcement theme, Sara Evans' child's softball bedroom, Kellie's lake-house master bedroom, Gena Lee's spa/relaxation room (complete with hanging bed), Jimmie Johnson's south-of-the-border kitchen and Eddie George's backyard beach.
-- Story by David Scarlett