You may recognize her as the "warrior princess" mother behind Sandra Bullock's character in the Blind Side, but Memphis-born Leigh Anne Tuohy also has an eye for interiors. Between being a children's advocate through her family's Make It Happen Foundation and writing her latest book Turn Around, Leigh Anne – owner of Flair I Interiors – shares her best ideas on decorating for Fall.
"Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. I consider it the 'starting lineup' of the holiday season. On that first chilly morning when the air is crisp, I run to pull out that new sweater that I've been dying to wear. I become anxious to build the season's first crackling fire. And, if you hadn't guessed already, we are a football family. We mark the days off the calendar until the first kickoff – be it high school, college or NFL. The South is so steeped in rich traditions, and many of these revolve around football and Fall."
Q: How do you work Fall into your decorating? A: It's a beautiful picture every Fall – the leaves change into deep, rich colors. Fall hues are some of my favorites. I like to incorporate natural elements into my decorating to warm things up inside the house. Whether you choose pumpkins, gourds, leaves, fruit, branches, antlers, or crafts your kids have made over the years – decorating is about choosing accents that fit with your family’s personality. Add these seasonal elements to your mantle, coffee table, bookcase, or centerpieces. By enhancing your candles, swapping out a few throw pillows, or even changing your lamp finials, you can create awareness around the season.
Q: What colors would you recommend? A: I always like to start with a backdrop of creams, off-whites or grays. These shades feel very inviting and comforting in a room. Then, warm up your neutral backdrop and add warmth to the room with the depth of Fall color. Some of my favorites are mossy green, caramel, tones of red, pumpkin (not orange!), a touch of chocolate brown and that deep dark purple – I call it blackberry.
Q: What are your go-to paint colors? A: I love Benjamin Moore #864 Oyster Shell, White Dove, and Bruton White #CW-710. I'm also drawn to Sherwin Williams #6103 Tea Chest, #7028 Incredible White, and #7036 Accessible Beige. They all make me happy every time I use them.
Q: What's your “trademark”? A: I take great pride as a designer that I stay away from trademarks. Many decorators have a go-to fabric, carpet, artist they love or signature paint color. I want my clients' homes to be a reflection of their style – not mine. I hate walking into a room and immediately recognizing the designer's work; to me, this indicates that it was more about the designer's preference than the client's. While I have a few things that are tried and true, I try to avoid calling them "trademarks."
Q: How do you define Southern style? A: Southerners are generally very welcoming and friendly – “hospitable” as my grandmother would say! Our decorating style reflects this in a way that comforts the soul. Southern style means walking into a room and being embraced by warmth and balance. However, it also goes beyond architecture and design. Whether you're from New Orleans, Nashville, Natchez or even Baltimore (my son SJ goes to school there and claims to be still in the South...humph is what I say to that!), we are a people defined by our history and our heritage – this combination defines our style. To me, "Southern" means antiques, family photographs, manicured lawns, mixing periods of furniture, fresh flowers, using your good china everyday, flickering candles, and the smell of freshly baked cookies.
Q: What should every home have? A: That's easy! Every home should have a splash of leopard print and monogrammed linens.
Q: How do you mix your passion for philanthropy with your work in design? A: I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "Between our head and our hands is our heart." While my head and hands are busy creating beauty in people's homes, my heart is busy creating beauty in people's lives. It's amazing how similar the approach really is. I don't have to travel the world to be challenged or inspired – I can walk out my front door and, within a few miles, there is a need to be filled. I'm compelled to roll up my sleeves and get to work because I know that when you invest in someone's life, you change it. Thankfully, I have seen more and more people with hearts to make a difference invest themselves in the lives of others. It gives us a sense of purpose to give back to the community. I truly believe that doing good for others will do you the most good. Our family did one simple random act of kindness and turned our car around – I challenge you to also break free of your comfort zone.