Southern Charm Style Guide

Tara Dickinson
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Open hospitality, welcome comfort, and a slow-paced lifestyle all reflect the heart of southern style. Creating this kind of environment is about combining the elegance of romantic style with the simplicity of a traditional, country-style look.

You can easily recognize a traditional southern home by its inviting front porch, which is most likely in a wrap-around style, that is adorned with an abundance of potted flowers, comfortable sitting areas, and a tray filled with cool glasses of refreshments, mint juleps or sweet tea to be sure. Large backyards with more planted greenery, gardens, stone pathways, and additional shaded sitting areas are also part of the exterior charm of a southern-style home. Bringing these natural elements inside the home is the beginning of your Southern Home Decor Style Guide.

southern charmThe characteristics of southern style are reminiscent of Old World charm, with homes full of traditional antique furnishings, soaring staircases, unique architectural details, and oil paintings that all translate into the comfortable elegance that is southern style. To bring some southern charm into your home, look to incorporate any of the following elements into your design décor.

Paint Palette: Neutral

When it comes to choosing a color palette for a southern-inspired makeover, stick to neutrals.

  • Shades of gray, brown, beige, or cream.
  • Neutral earth colors: olive, taupe, ivory, green, and tan to set off the vibrant colors of the upholstery and accessories as well as the dark wood furniture.
  • Furniture and décor are the main focus of the room.
  • Accent those features with a neutral background.

Wood Furniture

To accomplish the cozy country spirit which is such an important aspect of southern design, look to incorporate quite a variety of wood furniture pieces. Playing on the continued ambiance of easy living and comfort, your solid wood furniture needs plenty of softness in the cushioning. Southerners are proud of their ancestors and the heirlooms they left.

  • Rustic, country feel.
  • Crafted from pine, oak, and other popular woods.
  • Channel the nature of the countryside.
  • Dark, carved wood sofas and other foundational pieces.
  • Upholstery comes in florals with a worn look.
  • Soft throw pillows with floral designs as well.


  • Armoires
  • Barstools
  • Bookshelves
  • Cabinets
  • Coffee tables
  • Dining tables
  • Side tables

Blending Furniture: Antique & Modern

While some styles of the southern influence are very prim and proper, with matching dining and bedrooms sets, there is another more relaxed eclectic style where the mismatched has a purposeful home.

  • Buy with an eye toward mixing, not matching.
  • These pieces will contrast against a soft neutral paint palette.
  • This can be a blend of antique, family heirlooms, and some of your newer contemporary modern pieces.
  • Romantic and feminine with touches of soft pastels is a part of the southern charm look that works well in the home and guest bedrooms.

Natural Elements

A must-have for any home that wants to impart its southern charm, is fresh bouquets of flowers and a plentitude of plants seeded throughout the house.

  • Plants provide a simple way to add life to any room and create a welcoming feel.
  • Colorful flowers contribute to a comforting environment by adding a hit of color and spreading happy feelings.
  • An indoor herb garden is another way to add this lively green element to your home, and a nice addition to a southern kitchen.


The Pineapple: A Symbol of Welcome

The pineapple as an inviting symbol of hospitality began in early colonial America because of its rarity. One story of how the pineapple became a welcoming symbol dates back to the late 1400s. On the second voyage of Christopher Columbus to the Caribbean Islands, he and his crew discovered exotic fruits and vegetables. The ship returned to Europe with the pineapple, where it was a huge success with the royals. But it wasn’t until a couple of hundred years later that farmers figured out a way to grow them successfully. Thus the scarcity of pineapples made them a special gift to offer to people on noteworthy occasions, as the pineapple was a coveted and desired luxury.

In these modern times, you can now see the pineapple represented in all manner of display, from sculptures in the front gardens to imprinted on textiles and painted in ceramics, to artworks and decor in the home.

Mason Jars

Mason jars might almost seem like a southern cliche but remember, cliches are born from real-world circumstances. And true to form, these textured glass jars have many decor uses throughout a southern style home. And thanks to the surge in upcycling and DIY crafts, these back-to-the-basics jars have a real country feel to them and are a perfect part of achieving your desired southern style.

  • Baking ingredients
  • Candleholders
  • Candy jars
  • Flower vases
  • Light fixtures
  • Soap dispensers


Southern charm decor features lighting with:

  • Candles in silver candelabras and candlesticks
  • Ornate chandeliers
  • Wall sconces

Visualize the interior of the homes in the classic Southern epic “Gone with the Wind” and use this as a source of inspiration. And what would a true southern dining room be without an ornate chandelier?! Why my dear, it would be nothing, nothing at all! This can be installed of course, over the dining table, or for an immediate impact, place one in the front entryway as another way to incorporate southern charm into your home.

  • The chandelier is a staple in southern interior design.
  • Exudes elegance and old-fashioned class.
  • Makes a space feel open and welcoming.


A perfect accent addition to a southern decor style is handcrafted pottery. Fired clay has an old-fashioned, country feel to it.

  • Just a few decorative vases are adequate to add touches of this warmth into a living room.
  • A diverse pottery collection might include pieces such as vases, cooking pots, and pans, coffee mugs, and plates.
  • To keep some sense of order, use pottery with a consistent design so that your décor will have a seamless look.
  • The perfect fit for southern homes is pottery pieces in white with simple or consistent patterns across your collection. 

Art Accents

Unless you are truly from the south and have a variety of hand-me-downs from your ancestors, the next best thing to incorporate some southern art accent charm into your home decor is by going to second hand markets and scouring their art sections for hidden gems.

  • An oil portrait of a stately person can be elaborately framed and hung in any room, giving the look of an old southern ancestor.
  • Collecting several to make a wall display of ‘ancestors’ is fun as well.
  • Animals, flowers, and still lifes all work for subject matter too.
  • Frame them in highly decorative frames of carved wood or sculpted metal.
  • Silver urns with flowers. 


With for just a hint of southern charm start fresh flowers and houseplants; maybe a bit of a Shabby Chic vibe with whitewashed accents here and there. For a complete southern look or full makeover, add many of these elements into your home: strong wooden furniture with soft seating and floral throws; antiques, pottery, chandeliers, cushioning lighting elements. Following this outline will result in a cozy and inviting space that will exude southern charm.



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