Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A definition of southern style

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As I explored a used book shop yesterday, a book spine caught my attention. Southern Style was written by the editors of Southern Accents.


(Note: The link above shows a earlier edition. The edition I purchased was published in 2006.)
Published in 2006

It seems that I'm not alone when trying to explain "southern style" to the myriad salespeople encountered while building our home. They all had an idea of what I was asking for, yet it wasn't the same idea that was in my head. This lack of a specific defining look presented a problem at times, yet nothing that couldn't be solved. Instead, it came down to my husband, our designer, or I sharing that we needed to continue searching until we found what we were looking for. It was the classic "I'll know it when I see it" tactic.

"....the South is moving on from its past sins and today retains the best of what has always been good about the region -- it's style and graciousness, two lofty attributes that are more important than ever at a time when technology rules."  *
While modern, contemporary, farmhouse, cottage, Tuscan, or even rustic all have more defined looks, southern seems to be more vague. You can see Gothic arches at the Aiken-Rhett property in Charleston, SC. With European influences in many homes, early American in Williamsburg, VA, a wide variety of styles and degrees of formality, it can easily be confusing when trying to define just what this style is about.
"What is Southern style? Perhaps it is easier to specify what it is not: trendy, campy, intimidating, or pretentious. On the contrary, it is a style that is accessible, incorporates the best in fabrics and furniture design, includes objects of sentimental value along with objects of great worth, and remains -- always -- grounded in the past." *
"Our sense of history and respect for tradition have led to a relaxed attitude toward the use and display of fine furniture, antiques and accessories. In essence we live with the things that make us comfortable and secure."  *
Perhaps the editors of Southern Accents defined Southern style best while explaining what it is not.

When designing our home, we searched for elements that would have felt at home in a historic house. We asked questions such as "Can I see this chandelier (lantern, door hardware, door style, trim, flooring, furniture, bedding, etc.) fitting into one of the historic homes I have visited?" If the answer was "no" then we continued to search. The only exceptions were the appliances, electronics, and indoor plumbing fixtures, but classic designs were still chosen as much as possible.

We don't need to be afraid of "southern" since it gives us the freedom to define what it means to each of us personally. We find common ground in the relaxed, comfortable, welcoming, atmosphere of our homes, leaving us with a wide range of ideas to incorporate into our spaces.

*Quotes from  Southern Style by the Editors of Southern Accents 
Southern Accents magazine is now defunct.

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