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How To Decorate Your Home in Decadent Southern Style
Decorating Southern style is not the same as country style. Within the South, you have many different areas: Texas, which has its own style, the French and Spanish- infused Gulf Coast area which includes New Orleans, the Low Country, and then the Appalachian mountains. When I think of Southern style, I think of classic, traditional home décor with an heirloom twist. Some might picture mobile home trailers and crocheted afghans in impossible colors, but Southerners have amazing homes. While traditional homes are across the nation, Southerners perhaps have the advantage of a past with a Latin flair. Coastal ports, like Savannah, New Orleans, Mobile, and Charleston, had contact with Europeans, as well as the British, and soaked up their style into a gumbo of décor.
You want to portray style that has built up over many years. Most long-time Southerners first hailed from Virginia, exhausted the soil there, and journeyed on to the Carolinas. After the Native Americans were rudely pushed off their land in the cotton lands of the Mississippi and Alabama territories, many newly rich planters began amassing their fortunes, only to lose them 30 years later in the American Civil War.
Check out how make a new house look old!
Great Books to Learn About Antiques
Old, Time-Worn Pieces
A look that has been passed down through the family over several generations is going to have some wear. First, start with an old hand-knotted rug if at all possible. These are easy to find in antique stores in various price ranges. You'll want to turn it over to inspect the stitching, as it should have neat stitches on the back similar to needlepoint. It's even better if it has some wear to it. I prefer antique rugs, but I have ordered hand-knotted rugs from the Home Decorators catalog. Ballard Designs also has a great, traditional selection.
Next, you'll want to add antique furniture. Again, it's not the end of the world if a drawer pull is missing. I first started collecting a style called Eastlake, circa 1880s, because it was hand-carved and reasonable. Today, my favorite style is Empire, circa 1820's-1850s, known for its heavier look with mahoghany veneers. My goal is always to get the best piece for the money and I also mix up the different furniture eras.
Add some wall décor such ornate, carved mirrors with gilting and classic oil landscapes with gilted frames. Gilt gold mirrors are a must for decadent decorating. You will find these at the best price in an antique shop, but Horchow has a luxe selection. I used to find surprisingly good oil paintings at places like T.J.Maxx or Tuesday Morning, but now it's just too cheap-looking in the selection. Your best bet will be to hunt antique shops, just like for all the other stuff.
Notice the lush, long silk curtains puddled on the floor.
Southern Accents is a now-defunct Southern Décor magazine that is still seen on Pinterest in pictures. It was DIVINE and I really miss it. Traditional Home takes its place but is just not as great as SA. A similar publication in the same company is Southern Living, which has the added bonus of being a life-style magazine with recipes and travel.
Ballard Designs was started by a Southern designer, and it is a great resource. Southeastern Salvage carries their items at a substantially reduced price and is good to check out. Restoration Hardware is pricey but beautiful. Shades of Light has great lighting but if you want to save on chandeliers, check out Great Chandeliers. com. The Murano style goes great in traditional homes and I love some of their Empire style ones.
I also enjoy looking at large photo books on Charleston, New Orleans, or Savannah's interiors to get ideas. The great thing about decadent, Southern style decorating is it will save you money and keep you from having that generic, Rooms To Go look.