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 you probably don't live in an antebellum home. But that shouldn’t stop you from wanting to add a little southern charm to your life.
Although your house doesn't have to look like a neoclassical plantation home. Southern decor reflects many different eras, architectural styles 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 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 low country artisans can be used to organize clutter in the great 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.
2. Linens and Textiles
A hand carved mahogany four-poster, simple wrought iron or an elaborate tester reflect a variety of different bed styles found across the South. Your bed linens should coordinate with your bed design. 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.
Cotton was king for many years in the south, which makes it a great choice for upholstered pieces. Breathable linen is also a logical choice for drapery and pillows in hot and humid climates. However, remember to mix in contemporary fabrics to keep your southern style fresh.
Don't limit your use of southern-esque fabrics to the bedroom. Consider using flour sack tea towels for your French creole kitchen. If you have a formal dining room dress it up with an exquisite linen and lace tablecloth
3. Garden Inspiration
Elements from outdoors play a big role in southern homes. Some examples include magnolia leaves and blooms, dogwood stems, forsythias, azaleas, hydrangeas and Spanish moss just to name a few.
Bring these outdoor inspirations into your home via fragrance. Room sprays, diffusers and scented candles add subtle aromas that replicate southern blossoms. If you’re lucky enough to have them growing in the yard make arrangements from cuttings straight from your garden. Florists can also source these botanicals for your arrangements.
Another sneaky way to bring the southern landscape into your home is by using wallpaper featuring 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.
4. Old and New Furniture
Interior designers have a knack for using antique and new furnishings to project what they refer to as contemporary southern design. You can do it too. Southern style doesn’t necessarily need to be matchy, fussy or formal. In fact, mixing old and new furnishings is a great way to achieve a trendy spin on southern style. Repurposing an heirloom sofa with new cushions and modern fabric will bring it preserve the past while looking to the future.
5. Family History
Southern style still has much of its roots in history. There has always been a rich tradition of framed family portraits as wall adornment. In families whose southern ancestry dates back hundreds of years, you might find an oil painting of the family patriarch elaborately framed and placed in a position of prominence above the fireplace.
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 the new, old south. 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 Linda Chechar