Southern homes are known for grand architecture, inviting porches, quirky antiques and a decorating style all the owners’ own. Pack away the hunting trophies and camouflage, retire the kitschy rooster art, and haul the sofa off the porch…Here are a few tips from Pamela Berger with Sweet Peach Blog on ways to turn your home into a chic, sleek Southern sanctuary.
You’d be hard pressed to find a Southern home that doesn’t have a space for family and friends to gather. The communal table is an integral piece of furniture with character and charm, wide enough for a pitcher of iced tea and some nibbles. Biscuits are good, but so are freshly made cookies or a pecan pie.
Southerners are well aware of the correlation between good food and good conversation. The point is to stay awhile, unwind and remember the importance of quality time.
To some, the South represents a formal home with formal attire and although that is true in some cases, I find it’s more true for homes down South to have a bit more colorful personality and laid back attitude. I can’t tell you the number of homes and porches I’ve been to that share the love of mismatched chairs. I see it often—they’ve been collected over time and when placed all together, make the prettiest picture.
I shot Chef Hugh Acheson’s wonderful home in Athens, Ga., last year and his dining room is full of homespun charm … and mismatched chairs.
Old Mixed with New
The modern Southern home is a mix of old and new. As so many of the older homes here are filled with character, it makes sense to celebrate and complement their history with home décor items from the past, then update the pieces with newer items to match your preferred style.
Antiquing is big in the South. You’ll find antique shops in every small town you drive through, which is why it makes so much sense to accent your décor with found pieces from markets and second hand shops. If you’re lucky and you look hard enough, you could find an old metal and wood cabinet just like this one.
A Welcoming Kitchen
It can be big or small, modern or traditional, but the Southern kitchen always has some aspect of hominess to it. It could be fresh flowers or freshly pickled vegetables on the kitchen counter; colorful vintage prints and grandma’s tea towels; or just cozy, inviting chairs to fall into and talk about your day.
The Family Past
Whether it’s granddad’s old ladder, a great Aunt’s quilt or vintage mirror, there’s always a piece or two from the family past in a Southern home. It could be an old cookbook, radio, rocking chair or embroidered pillow, but a treasured item of generations past brings a safe and comforting feeling. Plus, it has a story to tell. And Southerners love their stories…
Furniture that sways
Long, hot summer days naturally lure us onto our porches. We sip on iced tea or cold beer. We take a moment to relax and then, we sway. It’s the law of the land here and I couldn’t be a bigger advocate. Whether it’s rocking chairs, swings or full beds on ropes, to rock back and forth quiets our minds and soothes our weary souls.
This may be the most obvious but it’s also the most essential element to a Southern home. The American porch grew first and most quickly here in the South. The Shotgun homes were the premiere structures to universally include a front porch and since that time, all variations of porches have been added to our homes. The important rule to remember is to always make sure your porch is wide enough for at least two rocking chairs.
The porch is that transitional space between our private and public worlds. When we sit on the porch, we watch people go on by. We say hello, we invite neighbors and friends to come sit and chat with us. It’s informal and inviting. As the digital age continues to consume us, it’s ever more vital to keep our porches. To sit and sway, to tell our stories…to laugh and sing or say nothing at all.
Pamela Berger is a television producer, writer and blogger. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow her at sweetpeachblog.com.