Get acquainted with this fresh take on a traditional decor look.
What do you think of when you hear “Southern style”? While images of heavy silk and velvet draperies and gilt furniture ala “Gone With the Wind” are a cliché, it is true that classic Southern style is luxe and layered, informed by a rich sense of history and tradition. The neo-classical and Greek revival themes of antebellum architecture that abound in stylish cities like Charleston and Savannah do lend a certain level of formality. But there’s a new point of view infusing Southern style with a modern approachability—“Southern Casual” (or “SoCa”, if you really want to get familiar) is lighter, looser, and utterly livable, no matter where in the country you live . Read on to understand the key themes and how to adapt them into your home.
Even when it leans laidback, Southern hospitality is always in fashion. It starts before you even enter a home, with what’s known as curb appeal—an inviting exterior look that says “Oh, hey, come on in”. In Southern Casual style this could translate into cheerful flowering planters flanking the front steps or a brightly-painted front door (see more on color below). A porch is a perfect spot for passing the time, with somewhere to sit and sip a cool drink or a fun seating option like a swing. No Southern Casual entryway is complete without statement-making lighting, either a pendant overhead (try staggering these Better Homes & Gardens Woven Pendants, $79, Walmart to make a statement) or a pair of stylish lights in a chic matte black finish.
Apply Color Cleverly
Jewel tones, unexpected hues, saturated shades—the Southern Casual love of color is unabashed, but strategic. Boldly paint a wall or woodwork (a color like Better Homes & Gardens Color of the Year, Canyon Ridge, feels right on trend), select colorful cabinetry, or choose an eye-catching color for the upholstery of an ottoman, storage bench, or a pair of lounge chairs. As a focal point, window treatments are also a good place to commit to color and pattern.
Mix Old and New
Respect for family treasures finds a way in to Southern Casual style, where antiques and heirlooms live in perfect harmony with newer furnishing upstarts. Older pieces might include lighting, furniture, vintage décor items, artwork or rugs. In choosing modern items to intermix, look for timeless designs, like a wood pedestal table (we love the Better Homes & Gardens Cambridge Table in green, $199, Walmart), or contemporary minimalist iterations that take a backseat to more effusive historical flourishes. If your family didn’t hand anything down to you, source older pieces yourself from flea markets or online; if they aren’t expensive investment pieces, consider sprucing them up with a coat of colorful paint
Entertain with Ease
Gracious Southern hospitality extends, of course, to entertaining. But forget the finger bowls and asparagus togs of bygone eras—the Southern Casual mode is more come-as-you-are and anything goes. Southern Casual hosts are always ready to serve up good times when friends pop by. Look for versatile serving pieces that work well with different foods, from snacks to sweets—we love the easy-going look of a White Wash Mango Wood Tray from the Dave & Jenny Marrs collection ($20, Walmart). And when cocktail hour rolls around, wheeling up a chic bar cart stocked with spirits and mixers keeps the fun flowing.
Tell Your Story
Make it nostalgic, but new—a signature Southern Casual move is personalizing your space. Personal touches tell a story—your story—and let your personality shine in your home. To do this, accent a coffee table, shelves or a bookcase with a special collection or an array of vacation memories or meaningful objects from your childhood. No 19th century portraits of your ancestors to hang on the walls? No problem. Honor loved ones past and present with casually displayed framed photos in sleek contemporary designs.