Warmth, elegance, and tradition. These are the three standards by which Southern-style decor is recognizable. Southern hospitality is one of the biggest American virtues everyone in the world heard about. And this spirit is incorporated in every piece of furniture and decorative element. This classic, traditional look had sustained throughout the years and found its rightful place as one of the most popular luxury interior design styles. But no matter the budget limitations, every house breaths grace and class. In the end, it’s not about the style; it is a way of life.
Every room tells a tale
When it comes to Southern homes, most things in the room have meaningful, personal touch perfectly assembled. As one of the signature marks of this home design, the traditional furnishing and color palette make every room feel like home. But most of all, American Southern-style decor provides a sense of comfort. The original architecture is rich, with many rooms where homeowners used creativity and a personal note to give them purpose while following contemporary fashion standards.
Interior color palette
The color palette is one of the essential elements of this style. It all starts from the bright and neutral base colors of the walls. The wall can be a work of art for itself, where crown moldings would break any possible monotony of base paint. However, the furniture and decorative elements follow a broad palette and patterns. Southern designers are not afraid to use colors, especially in wallpapers, wall paneling, decorative pillows, rugs, and other accessories. When it comes to the color palette, this style is anything but sterile.
Furnishing a home in Southern-style decor
The best way to create an authentic design when it comes to furnishing modern homes is to use a combination of antique and contemporary informal elements while finding the perfect balance. For example, using affordable furniture, like overstuffed sofas and wicker decor combined with more traditional, classic pieces, like an armchair, neoclassical coffee table, or chest of drawers, will give your living room the necessary class and warmth this style is famous for.
Drapes and textiles for coziness
One of the most important elements of creating that unique home atmosphere is the choice of textiles and draping. This design dictates specific window treatment, with heavy drapes that create a vertical texture and give a cozy vibe to the room. The colors and patterns vary, but they never blend in with the walls. The same goes for upholstery, patterns on the pillows, rugs on the floors, etc. Choosing the right fabric for each room is essential if you want to provide the right appeal.
Accessories are what gives this style a soul
When it comes to Southern-style decor, we already mentioned that color and traditional elements gave the design warmth. Still, if anything gives the soul to a room, it’s the collection of accessories. From textiles to art and lighting, everything about these decorative elements is personal. Family portraits, heirlooms like chinaware, teapots, silver candlesticks, and flower vases are carefully displayed in the living room like in a small museum.
Very often, the walls will have lamps, clocks, or antler paraphernalia on the console. Sometimes ever personalized monograms on objects, like cocktail napkins, appliqué on bedding, and hand towels. In luxurious homes, you can often find chandeliers and crystal decorative elements as well.
How to make it work in your modern homes?
The classic Southern-style homes define a specific period of fashion. However, revivalists have drawn inspiration from these overwhelming designs for decades. If you’re not from the Southern parts and plan to “spice up” your interior with this particular style, you will have to be creative to make it affordable. You can always go antiquing in vintage shops and flea markets. They are a great source of precious Southern-style decor pieces. If you’re lucky, you might even find some original bits. There is nothing like patina sprucing up your house with a traditional-classy look. Still, don’t forget to give your home a personal touch because that’s what this style is all about.
Words of advice when it comes to DIY furnishing
If you plan to furnish your home as a DIY project, you need to be extra careful. Don’t mix modern, clear-line objects with rustic elements. Even though today’s “modern Southern-style” combines the old and new features, you’d have to draw a clear line when the furniture becomes too modern for this mix.
Moving and furnishing a new house is stressful as it is. Therefore, you’ll have to pay attention when transporting valuable objects. Old and expensive living room pieces need special care and handling. To have the luxurious living area prepared and ready for the move, you need to buy special packing materials. And if you’re not sure you know how to handle it properly, maybe it’s better to hire a packing service.
Southern vernacular home architecture
Designing quality and sustainable homes is something every architect strives toward. And even though we live in a modern age of technology, where basically anything is achievable, sometimes we have to stop and admire old designs that were revolutionary for their time. When it comes to designing vernacular homes, Southerners understood the importance of the harsh environment and air conditions they were facing. In doing so, they’ve created resilient and sustainable homes that share the commonalities of materials, form, and setting. Original homes date back to the 18 century, and 20% of these structures still stand today.
What makes “antebellum” architecture decor recognizable?
First of all, a Southern home has to have a porch. In many cases, even wraparound, with rocking chairs, lazy swings, Greek columns, and Victorian design elements like gingerbread trims. The exterior is symmetrical with the centered front door, while the colors of the houses are bright.
Also, homes are often surrounded by magnificent gardens with boxwoods, cherry blossom, kudzu, wisteria, dogwood, and different vines. It is quite the sight to see. However, today’s exterior southern style decor is more down to earth when it comes to going for the details. Still, respect for the original design is significantly maintained. If you plan to give your patio a Southern makeover, a good way to start is by adding traditional furniture and using the vertical space to increase Southern appeal.
A summary of Southern-style decor and furniture design
The Southern-style decor is anything but sterile. If you’re moving into one of these magnificent homes, and you want to furnish it to match the exterior, you can’t go wrong if adding some neo-classical, European, and federal types of furniture. Any antiques and accessory pieces that give your room a nostalgia vibe are welcome as well. Basically, anything that will turn the home from a modern to rustic look should be taken into consideration. Many original homes are heavy on heirloom pieces, old paintings with rich frames, chests, and chandeliers. Such elements may be glamorous, but having in mind that this particular style offers permanence, it is a great idea to invest in it.
Clarice Thomas is an exchange BA Interior Design student at the Edinburgh College of Art, specializing in Industrial interior design. She is a blogger and a writer currently affiliated with Spyder Moving. In her spare time, she likes to go on “flea market hunts”. She thinks it’s amazing how much soul can you find in old, antique trinkets.