Outfitting a home in the grand Southern plantation style takes careful thought and planning. From the exterior paint colors to the porch rocking chairs, each detail contributes to creating an elegant, gracious, and comfortable ambiance. When done well, a Southern plantation-style home exudes both charm and hospitality.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore how to authentically outfit a home to achieve the distinctive Southern plantation aesthetic. We will cover everything from exterior elements like paint and porches to interior design factors such as furniture, fabrics, and accessories. With the right combination of elements, you can craft a home that feels like a charming escape to the genteel South.
Choosing Exterior Paint Colors
The exterior paint colors you choose for a Southern plantation-style home are critical in setting the overall visual tone. Traditional Southern homes were often painted in light, neutral shades that kept the interiors cool and reflected the hot southern sun. When selecting exterior paint colors, consider the following tips:
Opt for Historically Accurate Neutral Hues
Stick to soft neutral shades of white, cream, tan, gray, and pale pastels. These colors authentically reflect traditional Southern plantation homes. Stark white has a crisp, clean look. Softer tints like almond, linen, or ivory add subtle warmth.
Accent with Deeper, Richer Tones
For contrast, use deeper shades like black, charcoal, navy, or dark green on accents like shutters, doors, and window trims. This grounds the home and adds visual interest.
Use a Color Wash Technique
Achieve an antiqued look by using a color wash or whitewash paint technique. This gives depth, texture, and a weathered appearance perfect for a historic Southern home.
Highlight Architectural Details
Use bolder, contrasting paint colors to make architectural details pop. Paint cornices, columns, balustrades, and other ornamentation in a darker accent shade.
Coordinate Exterior Palettes
Tie together the main house color with exterior elements like the shutter color, trim color, and porch color for a cohesive look.
Decorating the Front Porch
The front porch is the hallmark of Southern hospitality. Decorating this space with comfortable rocking chairs, antique seating, and lush greenery creates an inviting spot to relax. Here are some tips for an authentic Southern plantation-style porch:
Add Rocking Chairs
Include classic wood rocking chairs with curved backs and contoured seats. They can be painted or distressed for a timeworn appearance. Arrange them facing each other to encourage conversation.
Include Wicker Furniture
Lightweight wicker chairs and settees are a porch staple thanks to their airy designs. Select natural woven furniture or painted pieces for a pop of color. Include cushions for comfort.
Add Antique Seating
Vintage benches, swings, gliders and chairs add character. Look for charming carved wood or ironwork designs. Keep fabrics on cushions crisp and classic.
Potted palms, ferns, and flowering plants make a porch feel lush. Use large stately urns or planters to contain them. Forsythia, hydrangeas and camellias are classic Southern porch plants.
Include Small Accent Tables
Accent tables provide a place to rest drinks. Round tables with turned legs fit the Southern style. Top with a vase of fresh flowers or potted plants.
Install Ceiling Fans
Add cooling ceiling fans on the porch to allow for comfortable seating even in summer heat. Select models with distressed wood blades and vintage-style lights.
Add Finishing Touches
Rocking chair cushions, outdoor rugs, and side tables all help make a porch cozy. Lanterns and sconces add charming light fixtures.
Designing Interior Spaces
The interior design of a plantation-style home should evoke grace, history, and comfort. When adorning rooms, focus on classic lines, neutral colors, natural materials, and vintage or antique furnishings.
As the main gathering place, the living room should have an inviting layout and durable yet beautiful furnishings.
- Sofas and Chairs – Select comfortable upholstered sofas and armchairs. Linen, cotton, or vintage velvet are fitting fabric choices. Carved wood frames suit the Southern style. Arrange seating to encourage conversation.
- Accent Tables – Scatter rounded accent tables around the room to hold books and provide surfaces for drinks. Opt for delicate Queen Anne styles.
- Area Rug – Anchor the space with an ornamental area rug. Look for floral, Oriental, or Persian-style rugs with red, cream, and blue hues. Use a large size rug.
- Draperies – Adorn windows with billowing drapes, swags, and jabots made of luxurious fabrics like silk, velvet, or damask in neutral solids or floral prints. Complete the look with decorative tie-backs.
- Accessories – Display collected antiques, porcelain vases, silver items, and fresh floral arrangements. Mount an ornamental mirror above the mantel.
The dining room in a Southern home is designed for gracious entertaining and family gatherings. Create a warm, welcoming space with these elements:
- Dining Table – A dark wood pedestal dining table surrounded by upholstered dining chairs creates an elegant look. For easy conversation, choose a round table.
- China Cabinet – Showcase fine china and glassware in a stately wood china cabinet. Look for carved fronts and glass doors. Display collections inside.
- Chandelier – Suspend an ornate crystal or glass chandelier over the dining table to provide soft illumination during meals.
- Draperies – Frame the room with lush drapes in a rich color or print. Tie back during the day to allow in light.
- Rug – Anchor the space with an area rug. Opt for traditional patterns like oriental medallions or heirloom styles.
- Accessories – Adorn the room with vases, candles, and greenery. Hang large mirror or art to reflect light.
The kitchen is often the heart of a Southern home. Create a spacious, light-filled space with traditionalcharm using these design tips:
- Cabinetry – Install white or antique wood cabinets for a light and airy look. Glass front cabinets display dish collections.
- Countertops – Marble, granite, or butcher block offer timeless choices for countertops. Butcher block adds warmth.
- Backsplash -pick a backsplash featuring classic tile patterns, like subway tiles or hexagons. Choose vintage colors like black, white, or soft blue.
- Sink – An exposed farmhouse, apron-front, or enameled cast iron sink suits the traditional style. Add vintage-look fixtures.
- Lighting – For bright illumination, use glass pendant lights over islands and recessed lighting overall. Mount brass fixtures for accents.
- Flooring – Hardwood plank floors suit the plantation aesthetic. For easier care, opt for wood-look porcelain tiles.
- Windows – Large windows and French doors allow natural light. Frame with curtains, valances, and swags.
- Furniture – Include a wooden farm table for casual meals. Display collections in glass-front cabinets.
Bedrooms in traditional Southern homes provide restful sanctuaries from the summer heat. Decorate using these tips:
- Beds – Select elaborately carved wood beds with posts for visual weight. Pair with crisp white linens in cotton, linen, or matelassé.
- Nightstands – Flank beds with matching carved nightstands that provide storage and bedside lighting.
- Dressers – Adorned with carvings, a dresser offers ample storage. Top with a mirror and accent lighting.
- Windows – Layer windows with billowing curtains, a cornice, and side panels or shades. Use sun-blocking drapes or blinds.
- Chairs – Include a slipcovered armchair or cushioned bench at the end of the bed for seating.
- Rugs – Anchor rooms with floral or oriental rugs layered over natural fiber wall-to-wall carpeting.
- Art – Arrange framed botanical prints, antique maps, or family portraits on the walls.
- Accessories – Add character with porcelain lamp bases, silver trays, pressed glass vases, or lace-edged linens.
Selecting Authentic Furnishings
Furnishings with ornate wood details, plush upholstery, and patinated finishes help achieve a genteel Southern look. Shop for antiques or seek out faithful reproductions of:
- Sideboards – Stylish wood storage pieces featuring carved decoration and cabinet doors or drawers.
- Armoires – Elaborately carved upright wooden wardrobes with doors that open to reveal storage space and hanging space.
- Four Poster Beds – Beds with columns rising vertically at each corner to support an overhead canopy or drapes.
- Wingback Chairs – Classic upholstered seating with high, rising padded sides that curve around to form wings.
- Fainting Couches – Long upholstered benches with a raised headrest on one end, popular in the Victorian era.
- Writing Desks – Ladylike delicate desks, usually fitted with drawers and pigeonholes for holding writing supplies.
- Rocking Chairs – Soothing wooden rocking chairs with curved backs, ideally suited to relaxing on the porch.
When investing in commanding signature antiques, balance them out with more casual and affordable pine, cane, or rush seating pieces to prevent rooms from feeling overly formal.
Curating an Art Collection
The art displayed throughout a Southern plantation home adds personality while honoring regional history. Curate a collection using these guidelines:
- Landscapes – Feature paintings and prints showcasing views of the Southern countryside or romantic ruined estates.
- Botanicals – Frame drawings or watercolor paintings of local flora like magnolias, roses, camellias, and weeping willows.
- Equestrian Art – Tasteful paintings and sculptures depicting horses reflect the Southern equestrian culture.
- Hunting and Sporting Art – In moderation, some hunting prints and dog portraits suit a Southern home.
- Maps – Antique maps of Southern states or cities make interesting focal points and recall regional history.
- Family Portraits – Honor past family members with formal painted portraits displayed in gilded frames.
- Historic Figures – Paintings of prominent Southern figures like plantation owners, generals, and statesmen tie into Southern legacy.
- Maritime Art – In coastal homes, nautical themes like ships, seascapes, and lighthouses suit the surroundings.
Whether framing priceless oil paintings or pages from botanical field guides, take care to select pieces that align with the plantation aesthetic.
Choosing Authentic Fabrics
Billowing draperies, cozy upholstery, and shimmering accent pillows come together with the help of refined fabrics. Look for textiles that convey the romance and comfort of traditional Southern style.
- Cotton – Classic, breathable cotton in solids or small florals or geometrics on upholstery or drapes.
- Linen – Natural linen adds casual texture on slipcovers, curtains, and table linens.
- Velvet – Elegant crushed or embossed velvet on cushions, pillows, and accent chairs conveys luxury.
- Chintz – Vivid, floral patterned chintz with lavish repeats makes dramatic window treatments.
- Toile – Iconic washable scenic and floral French toile adds charm on drapes and bedding.
- Brocade – Ornate brocade upholstery in floral or damask patterns lends depth and sheen.
- Lace – Delicate ivory laces provide timeless beauty on tablecloths or curtains.
- Matelassé -Rich quilted matelassé bedcovers feel indulgent in cotton, linen, or silk.
Mix in some polished silks, airy muslins, vintage tapestries, embroidered throws, or handkerchief linen for variety.
Setting the Scene with Accessories
The thoughtful accessories you place in each room help reinforce the distinctive Southern aesthetic. Display collections of:
- Silver – Gleaming silver trays, candlesticks, tea sets, and decorative bowls.
- Porcelain – Fine china figurines, vases, lamps, and decorative plates.
- Crystal – Ornate glassware, decanters, stemware, and sculptures.
- Books – Collections of leather-bound classics, gardening books, and regional histories.
- Seashells – In coastal homes, arrange seashells gathered from nearby beaches.
- Magnolia – Place ceramic magnolia-scented candles around the home to scent the air.
- Pressed Glass – Vintage glassware, cake pedestals, and punch bowls revive the past.
- Lamps – Table lamps with fringed shades or hurricane lamp bases provide soft light.
Floral arrangements, trays of flowering plants, elegant pens and inkwells, monogrammed linens, and decanted spirits can all contribute unique Southern personality.
Achieving Timeless Appeal
With careful attention to elements both inside and out, it is possible to authentically outfit a home with enduring Southern plantation style. Focus on graceful proportions, refined details, and finishes that lend patina. By thoughtfully blending period-appropriate architecture, interior design, decor, and artwork, you can craft a home that truly embodies the beauty and hospitality of the storied Southern tradition. A tasteful Southern plantation-style abode never goes out of fashion.
Frequently Asked Questions about Outfitting a Southern Plantation-Style Home
What exterior paint colors work best for a Southern plantation-style home?
Traditional light neutrals like white, ivory, cream, or pale gray work best. For contrast, use black or dark green on accents like shutters and doors. A whitewash or color wash adds an antiqued, weathered character.
What type of furnishings suit the interior of a Southern plantation home?
Choose substantial wood furnishings with ornate carvings and trim, like four poster beds, armoires, writing desks, and sideboards. Balance with upholstered seating, linen slipcovers, and wicker or rush pieces.
What fabrics help create an authentic Southern look inside?
Timeless cotton, linen, velvet, and toile suit both formal spaces and casual rooms. Billowing silk or chintz drapes and lace tablecloths add elegance. Embroidered and quilted textiles provide comfort.
What are some hallmarks of Southern plantation home decor?
Lush potted greenery, silver trays and objets d’art, porcelain vases, bouquets of magnolias, pressed glassware, leather-bound books, maritime art, and family portraits help achieve the genteel aesthetic.
How can you make a front porch reflect Southern style?
Add rocking chairs and wicker seating, antique benches, ceiling fans, potted plants, and accent tables. Ensure comfort with cushions and rugs. Include charming details like lanterns and sconces.
Should you use mostly antiques when furnishing a Southern-style home?
Balance fine antiques with some vintage-look reproductions and more casual pieces to avoid an overly formal atmosphere. Mixing price points also helps.
What types of art suit the walls of a Southern plantation-style home?
Display landscapes of the South, botanical prints, maps, equestrian art, and family portraits. Nautical themes suit coastal locales. Remember to frame pieces attractively.
What architectural details should be highlighted?
Use trim colors to draw attention to balustrades, cornices, pediments, columns, arches, and other ornamentation. These details lend elegance.
How can you make a Southern home’s interior feel bright and airy?
Maximize natural light with large windows and French doors. Use light, soft neutral paint colors on walls. Mirrored furnishings also help reflect light throughout rooms.
Outfitting a home with authentic Southern plantation style requires patience, research, and an eye for gracious details. But the end result is a home that feels as welcoming as a grand veranda on a warm summer evening. From stately exteriors with whitewashed siding to interior spaces filled with fine mahogany furnishings and strewn with magnolia blooms, the plantation aesthetic brings beauty and charm to everyday life. With furnishings ranging from antique to affordable, this traditional style remains accessible. For those enamored with Southern heritage and hospitality, a plantation-style home is a cherished dream.