Adding Sweet Southern Style to Your Home
In homes from Dallas to Savannah and Atlanta to Charleston – southern style is alive and well. But what is it? Ask a dozen interior designers and you’ll get a dozen different answers.
Chances are pretty good you don’t live in a southern plantation home. But that shouldn’t stop you from wanting to add a little southern charm to your life. Don’t think your house has to look like Tara from Gone With the Wind – southern decorating reflects many different eras, personalities and geographic areas.
By experimenting with these five southern design elements, you can easily incorporate this look into most any decor.
Using vintage items in edited collections is very common in southern decorating. For instance, a small grouping of shiny antique toasters looks quite charming when displayed on open kitchen shelving. A collection of baskets made by local artisans can be used to organize clutter in the media room.
Other logical choices for collections include family silver and china showcased in a well-worn hutch, on a buffet or displayed as part of a decorative tablescape in the dining room.
Typically, items in a collection should be related in one way or another, whether it be color, type, shape or use. One important rule of thumb is to keep the number of items in your collection to a minimum. Large collections can overwhelm the delicate sensibility of southern style.
Bed Linens and Fabrics
A hand carved, mahogany four-poster, simple wrought iron or elaborate tester reflect different bed styles found across the South. The bed linens you choose should coordinate with your bed style. Look for simple florals to dress an iron or brass bed. Formal beds look best when decked out in crisp, white linens with an embroidered family monogram!
However, don’t limit your use of southern-esque fabrics to the bedroom. Consider using flour sack tea towels for your low country kitchen. Dress your formal dining room in an exquisite lace table runner.
Cotton was king for many years in the southern U.S. That makes it a great choice for upholstered pieces. Breathable linen is also a logical choice for drapery and pillows in hot and humid climes. However, remember to mix in contemporary fabrics to keep your southern style fresh!
Indoor Garden Inspiration
Elements from outdoors play a big role in southern style. Some examples include magnolia leaves and flowers, dogwood, azaleas, hydrangeas and Spanish moss, to name a few.
Bring these outdoor inspirations into your home via fragrance – room sprays, diffusers and scented candles. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have them growing in the yard, make arrangements from clippings straight from your garden. Florists can also source these southern botanicals for use in your arrangements.
Another sneaky way to bring the southern landscape into your home is by using wallpapers with floral motifs. This is a great idea for a powder room – wall-to-wall florals in small spaces equal big impact! If that's too much visual stimulation for you, purchase a vintage floral still life to grace one of your walls.
New and Old Furniture
Interior designers have a knack for using antique and new furnishings to project what they refer to as new southern design. You can do it too!
Southern style doesn’t necessarily need to be matchy, fussy and formal. In fact, mixing old and new furniture is a great way to achieve a contemporary spin on southern design. Repurposing an heirloom sofa with new cushions and modern fabric will bring it stylishly into the 21st century. Painting an old dresser or table and chairs will allow you to maintain the past while looking to the future.
Still, southern style has much of its roots in history. There has always been a rich tradition of using framed family portraits as wall adornment. In families whose southern ancestry dates back hundreds of years, you might find an oil painting of the old family patriarch ornately framed and in a position of prominence above the fireplace.
Today, you can continue that tradition in your own way with a grouping of photographs of family members printed in sepia tone and framed to suit your version of southern style. Or, take a photo of the entire family and have it transferred to canvas. There are also artists who will paint portraits from a photo – it may cost a bit more, but will surely be a family keepsake and focal point in your home. You can also use framed documents and old maps to help bring your family history to life.
Southern Decorating Tips
© 2013 lindacee