“The pieces don’t need to match,” she says. “They just need to be similar and simple.” Charlotte, North Carolina, designer Cindy Smith takes a slightly different approach. “I like to mix patterns,” she says. “The fancier, the better. I like the juxtaposition of fancy silver with simple plates and glasses.”
If you stand to inherit silver, make sure any new pieces match the old silver. (Sounds obvious, but it’s often ignored.) If you have to purchase your flatware, consider what pattern you want carefully before buying.
Steer clear of posed-looking family portraits, though. “Instead, take candid, casual pictures, and collect them as a nice assortment on the wall,” she says. And whatever you do, get photos professionally framed.
Books are just one example of how details matter. “I love to incorporate family heirlooms, one-of-a-kind rugs, and antiques with unique lampshades, pillows, and accessories,” says Birmingham-based designer Tammy Connor.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, designer Charles Faudree prefers to let fabrics, trims, and accessories take center stage to more neutral paint colors. Tammy likes to let nature—especially that of the Carolina Lowcountry—inspire her palette. The main thing to remember? Let color reflect your personality.
A white monogram on a white napkin will never go out of style, Phoebe says. A nice set of these also makes a beautiful wedding present. “Make sure that you find a quality monogrammer,” she says. Some monogrammers use premade templates, while others create their own distinctive styles, which make your linens more special.
Charles likes to layer toile, striped, and checked fabrics and then add fabulous fringes and trims for a luscious Country French style. Tammy likes textured neutrals for a timeless look but offers this tip for when you need lots of yardage for drapery. “I use Patterson from Fabricut,” she says. “It’s a solid linen and comes in many colors. Finish the edges with a tassel or trim in a contrasting color, and it will look like you spent a million bucks!”
“Living rooms should be arranged for conversation, with several different seating areas,” says Phoebe. “Slipper chairs always work, and surprisingly, men like them too. They aren’t for football watching but for conversation and moving about the room easily.” Phoebe’s favorite slipper chair is from Lee Industries (#1560-01). For deeper seating, Cindy likes Lee’s #1077 chair with a dressmaker’s skirt and English arms, pictured.
“If you’re not lucky enough to inherit antiques, don’t buy cheap ones,” adds Cindy. “Save until you can buy a good piece. You don’t have to have a room full of antiques—one nice piece in a room can elevate everything around it.” As for which to buy first, Cindy suggests a mahogany Sheraton-style sideboard or a walnut English chest of drawers.