Text by Hannah Nance for The Cottage Journal, a sister publication of Southern Home
The comfort and beauty of a truly Southern home is unmistakable. Hospitality exudes at first welcome, and the blend of classic and cozy style keeps guests coming back for more. Want to know how you can recreate this sought-after style in your home—no matter the location? We consulted our Southern style experts and rounded up their top tips below!
Classic and Timeless Design
“The homes I love most in the South are filled with pieces that speak to the owners, to grandmothers before, and to the modern generation of new collectors,” interior designer Maggie Griffin shares. “They show clean lines mixed with traditional silhouettes, oil paintings mixed with a few abstracts, and plenty of color.” Southern-style homeowners don’t buy into every trend on the market. Instead, they opt for pieces that will stand the test of time, no matter the current latest craze.
Maggie also notes that the same emphasis of timelessness is placed not only on the décor but also on the style of the interior. “Classic Southern design is, well, classic,” she says. “Simple rules of symmetry, scale, balance, and color make for rooms and homes that feel as current today as they did when they were first done.”
Décor with Meaning
Visit any Southern home, and you’re likely to come across a piece, large or small, that’s been passed down through generations of the homeowner’s family. “Our sense of history is greatly celebrated in the South—in particular, a homeowner’s personal history,” says designer Eric Ross. “I find that Southern people love to tell guests which family member gave them a piece here or there. It also gives a person a connection with their past, which is very Southern.”
Don’t have any heirloom pieces in your personal collection? No problem! Now is the perfect time to start from scratch. When selecting décor, pick items you love and ones that will keep for years or that have a special meaning to you. It could be a pressed floral arrangement from your wedding bouquet, a figurine of a favorite pet, or furniture from a time period you love—pieces that spark conversations with guests are always on-trend.
A Place to Entertain
Whether it’s an open-concept floor plan or an area for indoor-outdoor entertaining, Southern homes have plenty of spots for guests to gather. “Southern style is about gracious entertaining with your home as a beautiful backdrop, filled with pieces passed from generations before and collections for modern times,” Maggie says. No matter your home’s layout, you should design each space to create a casual flow of traffic when friends and family visit and be sure to include as much seating as possible. Even in the smallest cottages, seating can be found in unique spots, such as window seats and ottomans. And never be caught unawares! Entertaining can range from a formal holiday dinner to a casual brunch with neighborhood friends, so keep your favorite dishware and linens at the ready and a few snacks and drinks on hand for spur-of-the-moment gatherings. As Eric puts it, “what Southerner would have a guest over and not offer a beverage and a light nibble?”
Casual, Inviting Spaces
Another key to having a perfect home for entertaining is designing welcoming interiors. Southern homes are classic yet casual, perfect for either bringing the extended family together for a barbecue or having a cozy fireside chat with a best friend. Durable linens and cozy throws and pillows entice guests inside and keep them comfortable to stay. But it’s important to remember that practical and pretty should exist together. “I always strive for approachable fine living,” Eric says. “Paramount in every room is not only is it beautiful, but comfortable and inviting.” Outdoor fabrics are a wonderful option when considering durability. Nowadays, they come in stylish prints and patterns and are easy to clean. You could also go with slipcovered furniture, and select rugs with a texture or print that will hide stains.