WORK IN PROGRESS: AT HOME WITH MARTINA McBRIDE

One thing's for sure: Martina McBride is not in Kansas anymore.

"I'm still surprised to find myself living here," she says with wonder, looking around at her expansive, Italian-style home just minutes from downtown Nashville.

"When we drive in it's kind of like, 'Wow – we live here?!' "

The reigning ACM Female Vocalist of the Year is too modest to call her dream home a mansion – but anyone else visiting the breathtakingly beautiful, three-story manor might use that very term.

Kansas native Martina – with husband John and daughters Delaney, 8, and Emma, 5 – moved into their current Nashville home in January 2000. But long before that, Martina remembers driving by the house several times, her curiosity finally getting the best of her.

"John and I made an appointment to look at it," she says, "but I was really just looking at it for fun, to see what it looked like on the inside. I walked in and immediately fell in love with it."

And what's not to love? The first floor has a formal dining room and a casual-yet-Moulin Rouge-style sitting room, complete with a bar and pool table. There's also an adjoining music room, where Martina keeps her piano, beloved pictures of musical heroes and an impressive collection of awards.

The living room and kitchen are connected by a double-sided fireplace. "We use that fireplace every night in the winter," explains Martina. "I usually start a fire sometime in the afternoon, around four o'clock when Delaney gets home from school. We keep the fire going until John and I go to bed. We love it."

Martina's bedroom is a soothing oasis of pastel blues and creams. "It feels so comforting when I go in there," she reveals, dressed in silk pajamas and curled up in a cozy chair. "I love the color of the curtains. They're a beautiful blue." A huge mirror leans against the wall, nearly reaching from floor to ceiling. "I found that in New York at a place called ABC Carpet & Home," she says. "They had it as part of a display piece and I asked if it was for sale. It's a French mirror from the 1700s."

Martina – who is decorating the entire house with the help of a local designer – says the room isn't finished yet. "I've ordered a lot of mirrored pieces," she notes. "I'm going to do a mirrored dressing table on my side of the bed, a mirrored chest on John's side of the bed and a mirrored table in front of the window. I want it to feel like 1940s Hollywood glamour."

Throughout the house are numerous books on entertaining and decorating, such as Pad:The Guide to Ultra-Living; Vintage Cocktails; Dinner After Dark and several of designer Rachel Ashwell's Shabby Chic books.

Read more about Martina McBride in the current 5/13/03 "Newsstand Issue" on sale now!

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