If you've ever spent time in the South, you may have noticed that decorating seems to come naturally to those that live there. It's a part of the lifestyle and the culture, and Southerners often inherit family heirlooms like hand-painted oyster plates, julep cups, and old oil paintings that make their homes all the more intriguing. Needless to say, there's something about a Southern home that's hard to emulate-they just have that je ne sais quoi. But we'll try anywayвЂ¦ Today we're talking to three interior designers about how to decorate like a true Southerner.
Read on for our conversations with New Orleans-based designer Melissa Miles Rufty of MMR Interiors, Atlanta-based designers Carter Kay and Nancy Hooff of Carter Kay Interiors, and L.A.-based designer Mark D. Sikes, who recently brought Southern spirit to the interiors of Reese Witherspoon's Nashville store, Draper James.
Plus, we're giving away a $1000 shopping spree to Draper JamesВ and $1500 to Viyet-learn how to enter below.
When we asked the designers to describe the core tenets of Southern style, there were a couple themes that rose to the service. The first was this idea that dГ©cor is collected over time. As Melissa Miles Rufty explained, вЂњMy mom always had a saying, 'You don't want a room to look like it all arrived on the same day.'вЂќ Southern interiors вЂњlook collected over time and in most cases, a little imperfect,вЂќ she says, which gives them вЂњan unmistakable soulful aura.вЂќ Mark D. Sikes points out that antiques and family heirlooms are common denominators in every Southern home.
Another tenet is that Southern interiors should be entertaining and playful. Carter Kay Interiors designers, Carter Kay and Nancy Hooff, tell us that Southern style requires a combination of comfort, humor, entertainment, and thought-provoking elements. Southern interiors should not only make guests laugh and smile, but also feel welcome. As Rufty describes it, вЂњChina, sterling silver, and monogrammed linens are used every dayвЂ¦ nothing is too precious.вЂќ She adds: вЂњAnd by all means, you must burn your wicks when putting out new candles. Otherwise you would seems as though you never entertain.вЂќ
The sentiment that Southern homes should be designed for entertaining was echoed when we asked the designers to share the number-one essential every Southern home should have. For Sikes, it's вЂњa big kitchen/room for gathering and hosting.вЂќ And Rufty votes for вЂњfresh flowers and greenery from the yard (camellias, magnolias)-never store-bought.вЂќ And Carter Kay Interiors: вЂњLiquid refreshments!вЂќ
Given that Southern interiors are rooted in tradition, we asked the designers to share their thoughts on how to make grandma's settee and that antique oil painting feel fresh. For all three, the answer was simple: mixing the old with the new. Hooff and Kay tell us: вЂњWe love to mix old, quirky items with new ones. Fine art pieces with odd objects and heirlooms. And supporting clients' contemporary art always feels fresh and new.вЂќ Rufty's standby is to upholster antique furniture with newer textiles, вЂњsay, a cream pleather on a Queen Anne, or throwing a modern lamp on a Victorian sideboard.вЂќ Sikes adds that вЂњdetails like trims, painted ceilings, and fabric on the walls,вЂќ are all great places to integrate modern elements.
As with every region, a few new trends are taking hold in the South. Sikes is excited about вЂњshiplap walls, statement lighting (I'm loving white plaster chandeliers), eclectic art, and a mix of textures.вЂќ Rufty has seen a resurgence in the use of wallpaper and old-school prints. вЂњFloral chintz is back, baby!вЂќ she says. Meanwhile, Carter Kay Interiors notes that midcentury furniture is still prevalent, and вЂњthose clean lines really appeal to our Southern sense of elegance, comfort, ease, and humor.вЂќВ
The idea of layering seems to be gaining popularity as well. In New Orleans, вЂњthere seems to be a movement away from trendy decorating with graphic prints to a more layered, acquired look,вЂќ Rufty says. And in Atlanta, though Carter Kay Interiors finds that вЂњthe industrial look is losing its edge,вЂќ the designers вЂњstill love it softened with an antique rug or animal skin.вЂќ
Another new trend you might be seeing more of? Corner banquettes. вЂњI like to use them in entrances when I can,вЂќ says Rufty. вЂњIt sort of sets the tone when you enter. It says, 'Come on in, kick off your shoes, have a drink, and let's talk about the neighbors.' I call it my new Southern welcome mat."
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Shop a few Southern-style dГ©cor finds below.Draper James Large Custom Mint Julep Cup $85Shop The Southerner's Handbook by The Editors of Garden & Gun $28ShopBunny Williams Home Ivory and Gold Neoclassical Mirror $1275ShopCurrey & Company Traditional Mansion Large Nine Light Chandelier $1620ShopDraper James Single Letter Guest Towel Set $78Shop
What do you think is most essential toВ Southern style? Share below.