Timeless Design Ideas That Will Never Go Out Of Style In Our Southern Homes

Louisiana Plantation The LeJeune House
Photo: Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

When it comes to the way we decorate our homes, Southerners aren’t exempt from the allure of the day’s latest and greatest trends. But even as we scroll Instagram and take note of designers’ dos and don’ts, there are some decorating ideas we’ll never part with—no matter what the pros say. Here, we’ve rounded up nine timeless design ideas that will never go out of style in our Southern homes.

A Piece (or Three) of Brown Furniture

We’re always happy to layer in more modern furnishings, like an acrylic coffee table or plaster chandelier, into our design scheme, but a Southern home just doesn’t feel quite right without something heavy and brown to deliver a dose of history and character. It’s the warmth and imperfections of aged pieces like these that make a house feel anything but sterile—especially when they’re heirlooms that have been passed down by loved ones. 

Full China Cabinets

While some homeowners may consider such furniture to be relics of the past, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Southern home without a china cabinet. Where else, after all, would you store the dishes your great uncle has been gifting you since you were a child? And lest you think that these plates and bowls simply camp out in the chest and collect dust… think again. We’ll pull them out to set the table at every opportunity, no special occasion required. 

Well-Dressed Walls

If there’s a blank space in our home, we’re going to cover it in a collection of something meaningful. From oyster plates to family photos to artwork picked up in our travels, we’re all about a sentimental mix. 

A Pretty Bar

Rather than tuck away the good stuff in an out-of-sight liquor cabinet, Southern hosts have been known to style an antique chest or commode in the living or dining room as an easy-access bar instead. Not only will you find the bourbon and vermouth here, you’ll likely also find a stash of hand-me-down julep cups, embroidered cocktail napkins, and elegant barware for shaking, stirring, and pouring. 

Dining Room Sets

We’re not afraid of a matchy-matchy moment, especially when it comes to a formal dining room (and yes, we do still advocate for one). Maybe it was all those holidays spent at our grandmothers’ houses, but there’s something that feels extra homey about a dining table with chairs to match. (We do, however, recommend recovering the chairs’ decades-old damask with something that feels a bit fresher. Grammy will understand.)

Skirted Everything

We haven’t found a piece of furniture that couldn’t be improved upon with a pretty skirt. A skirted table is an easy way to add softness to a room without feeling too precious, while a bedskirt (that matches the shams, of course) is another opportunity to infuse the space with pattern and color.

Twin Beds in the Guest Room

When it comes to crafting a space for visitors to feel welcome, we love the summer-house- nostalgia factor of twin beds, especially when they’re layered with matelassé coverlets and colorful quilts. Not only does a pair of beds offer flexibility for hosting, it also allows for charming symmetry in small spaces.

Porches That Function Like Indoor Rooms

Regardless of mosquitos or hot weather, we’re still smitten with our homes’ outdoor spaces, and we’ll do just about anything to make them comfortable extensions of our interiors year-round. That means ceiling fans in the summer, throws come fall and winter, and rocking chairs and swinging daybeds in every season. Don’t be surprised if you find our porches outfitted with pretty rugs, ambient lighting, and pretty pillows too. It’s all in the name of having more room for comfortable entertaining.

A Haint-Blue Porch Ceiling

Spend any time in a coastal Southern city, and you’ll likely to see dozens of homes with porch ceilings that are painted blue. Yes, it’s pretty, but this design choice has deep roots. The tradition began with the Gullah Geechee communities of coastal South Carolina and Georgia. These descendants of central and west African enslaved people painted their doors, window frames, shutters, and porch ceilings blue as a means of protection. They believed that the color would act as a repellent for "haints," or spirits of the dead, who might try to enter their homes. Some also say that the color discourages wasps from building nests. We’re not looking to take on a haint or a wasp, so this is one style choice that’s certainly here for the long haul.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles