By Catherine Sherman
While the kitchen is a place to gather in the home, it's not everyday you invite guests into your master bathroom -- especially when a camera is rolling. But Sylvia Roberts did just that. Her extravagant six-acre estate has been transformed into the home of country-music star Rayna Jaymes, played by Connie Britton (pictured below with co-star Hayden Panettiere) in ABC's "Nashville."
"Initially when I signed up to do the pilot, I had no idea it would turn into a hit TV series," Roberts said. "The process has been a little bit longer than expected, but I'm excited. I feel like it will get picked up for the next season." But while Roberts is having fun playing host to television stars, her property has yet to secure a buyer. She listed the home in October 2010 for $22.5 million and has since dropped the asking price to $19.5 million. Even for prestigious Belle Meade, Tenn., a city within Nashville, this is a lot to pay for a six-bedroom.
See photos of the house in "Nashville" in the gallery below.
"The price range is limited in terms of who it attracts," said Steve Fridrich of Fridrich & Clark Realty, the listing agent for the property. "Exposure for the house has been good. Of course, on a TV show they don't say the house is for sale." While Fridrich was initially skeptical about whether "Nashville" would help sell the home, Roberts says that she would do it all over again in a heartbeat. "To me, it's amazing," she said. "For years, Nashville has been looked at as a redneck, hillbilly situation, but it's a warm, loving community and they have tried to represent that."
Roberts and her ex-husband purchased the 20,533-square-foot estate in April 1999. Over the past 14 years, she's raised a family, hosted charity events and weathered a flood filling her basement with five feet of water. But with a massive wine cellar, European wash bins and a spiraling staircase, any signs of damage were washed away with the flood.
"You don't really understand the home until you walk in the door," Roberts said. "Then you feel the warmth." The home's traditional Georgian style was inspired by A. Hays Town, a famous American architect influenced by the Spanish, French and Creole history of Louisiana. "We were in New Orleans and saw these brick columns [designed by Town] there," Roberts explained. "They were amazingly unique, so that's what we did. We didn't plaster over the columns."
And Roberts didn't stop there: She worked closely with interior designer Mary Spalding, filling the home with antiques and old light fixtures. "It's custom-built, every detail," Fridrich said. "It would be tough to rebuild it." But that's exactly what the producers of "Nashville" did. After shooting at the home for a few weeks, Roberts says the crew has only come by a dozen or so times to take measurements and photos of the landscape.
"They made a set duplicating my home," she explained. "From the coffee pot to the stove, the brick, the mortar -- they measured and took an exact replica of my home."
But a lack of movie cameras hasn't kept Roberts away from the show. Whether hosting viewing parties with her friends or making time for media interviews, she's embraced the adventure that is "Nashville." In fact, she may even play a cameo role in an upcoming episode. "I'm not going to have made that much money, but I've made so many new friends, and it's opened doors I didn't foresee," she said.
Due to the publicity on the show, Roberts says, the estate is going to be marketed overseas. A buyer from Atlanta also has recently shown interest. "It's kind of like 'Downton Abbey,' " said Fridrich. "That house is famous now and will always be famous." Hopefully, fame will turn into a sale. Today marks 911 days since the home hit the Nashville real estate market.
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