A soft quilt laid at the end of a guest bed, a kitchen always ready for a neighborly visit, a living room with elegant and comfortable seating—from the decorative details to the architectural design, elements of hospitality can be found in the many facets of a Southern home. Yet, exactly what makes a home “Southern” can be difficult to define.
Our recent Southern Home special issue captured the inspired décor of 11 different homes from throughout the region. Each presented a different take on the meaning of Southern style. We asked the talented designers of those interiors how they defined a Southern home. Here, we share some of their responses and offer a taste of the spaces they created. Find the rest of these inspired interiors and the stories behind them in the print edition, available on newsstands now or through our online store.
“Southern décor is inviting and casual yet elegant design that is considerate of function. Beauty is in the details that bring personalization and personality to the home.”
Atlanta-based designer Loretta Willis helped this couple update their spacious home and make room for a growing number of grandchildren. Known for her crafting of classic designs that make traditional elements comfortable and approachable, she mixed some of the owners’ existing pieces with updated elements. “I introduced a color play that warmed up the interior while complementing the items we kept and the new items we purchased,” she says.
“A Southern house is a home that is lived and used and loved. It’s spaces that say, ‘You don’t have to pretend here! Be yourself, kick off your shoes, and sit by the fire with me.’”
When decorator Melissa Salem and her husband relocated from suburban Birmingham to the country, she envisioned a house that evoked a sense of comfort for all who entered. To achieve her goal, Melissa used her bucolic setting as a source of ongoing inspiration and took to antique shops and flea markets to find many of the decorative elements. “When we find pieces that speak to me, I buy them and always find a way to fit them in,” she says. “These special finds are what make a house a home. I don’t buy to impress; I buy what I love and whatever adds joy and color and story.”
“Well-curated collections amassed from items gathered over time, family heirlooms, and a particular flair for the interesting—there are always interesting little pieces to be found around old Southern homes; knickknacks with incredible origin stories and historic photos are some of the best things about families with roots in the South.”
Dallas-based interior designer Elaine Williamson-Romero used a family’s shared love of bold color to guide the aesthetic of this home. Having lived in New Orleans before coming to Dallas, Elaine was well acquainted with the decorative allure of bright hues. “It’s New Orleans, but not in the way you’d expect,” she says. “It’s loud and classic but lacks the French flair present in so many of the New Orleans–inspired homes we see these days. I’d almost call it ‘Nouveau Orleans.’ It’s fun, and it’s engaging, but you won’t see fleurs-de-lis all over the place.”