Becca Gaines is an interior designer living in Collierville, TN. She's a longtime customer of Bella Vita, and is currently helping Brent and I design the living spaces of our home. Below, you will see Becca's top 10 things to love about Southern design. -Steph
Southern design is so much more than a single style. It’s the Southerner’s whole approach to home design, an approach governed by hospitality, tradition, and family. Southern passion and character defines our design and fills to the brim our charismatic homes like a tall glass of sweet tea.
Why We Love Southern Design...
1. It's Rooted in Tradition
Historic southern homes were built in reaction to our hot, humid climate. Large windows with operable shutters, deep porches, wide roof overhangs, and elevated main living areas became a staple among southern plantations to take advantage of cool breezes. These beautiful features can be seen across the Southern states, but it is what they represent that makes them Southern, such as time spent “porch sitting” in rocking chairs interacting with family and friends or blessing Sunday lunch after church. And even though nobody really knows why the ceiling hovering overhead is painted “haint” blue, each has a theory and continues the tradition of the blue porch ceiling. If anything, it’s because that’s what you do or what grandma did. Not to mention, it is good design.
2. It Revolves Around Family
Everything in the Southern home revolves around family, from the treasured pieces displayed inside to the layout of space and furniture. Family portraits, heirlooms, and handmade quilts surround us because these represent the people we love most and where we have come from.
Dining tables are well set and extra-long, but they never seem long enough because there’s always a reason to pull up a few extra chairs. Tablecloths are not just for parties and fancy restaurants, but suitable for even lunch on the porch.
3. It's Hospitable, Y'all
Because that’s what we are! Our homes are not designed to impress others, but to accommodate them. The southern guest room is one of the most important spaces in the home and is always prepared for visitors. Thoughtful touches like fresh towels and toiletries, pressed bed sheets, local and current magazines, snacks and a bedside pitcher of fresh ice water encourage guests to relax and stay a while. Board games and books are scattered throughout the home and across the porch. If it’s football season, the game is on the TV. Southerners are always looking for ways to include more comfortable seating in living spaces for whoever may stop by or just in case they need to host a shower.
4. It's Well Built
Like the men who come from the South, both sweet and tough, southern home design is strong, meaningful, and withstands time because it is built on more than good fashion sense. It is about love and interactions that matter. Those things will never be “dated.”
5. It's Always Dressed for the Occasion
Southerners understand etiquette and that it’s courteous to dress for the occasion. But our personal style extends beyond our clothes. We know traditional home decorating rules and even when and how to politely break them. Often our homes are gracefully morphing to suit each occasion – guests, parties, Bible studies, or holidays.
6. It's Well Fed
Where Southerners gather, there is food. Generously sized kitchens with simple but strong details reminiscent of old staff kitchens are prepared with a spread of casseroles for a crowd of friends. Cocktail tables are strategically placed throughout the home for snacks and sweet tea glasses. Grandma’s best cast iron skillet and corn bread pan hang on the wall for decoration.
7. It's Approachable High Design
Southerners are confident mixing high design with relaxed comfort. Where else are children running barefoot through the churchyard in exquisite lace gowns? Or dressed to the nines for an afternoon football game? It’s true that we all own pearls and they go with everything from jeans to Sunday’s best. The same confidence translates into the home where stunning heirlooms sit among interesting things found in the barn.
8. It Tells a Story
Like the country music that was born in our region, our homes tell stories and are places for story telling. Rooms are arranged for intimate conversations and porches for sitting and listening. We collect and display objects that are representative of relationships and experiences. Complimenting a southerner’s décor will often be met with a story.
9. It's Easy
Not lazy. We value hard work and a job well done. We decorate with things that are meaningful or useful, not pretentious or stuffy. Southerners are too focused on being good hosts creating a friendly and welcoming environment so our homes are left to develop an effortless elegance in design.
10. It's Romantic
Frankly, my dear, we’re suckers for romance. Stemming from our value for southern tradition and heritage and old stories of the deep south, we love fresh flowers and floral prints, lace, ruffles, plush seating, and swooping chandeliers in bright airy spaces.
Y’all see what I mean? Southern design is so much more than a style; it’s a way of life featuring values and traditions passed down from generation to generation. North to south or east to west, southern design is achievable if you understand the underlying principles, looking ahead at what’s modern and reaching back for what’s been.