A Simple Décor Trick All Southern Women Use—Do You Know It?

Updated 06/20/18

Southern homes have a certain je ne sais quoi. It may have to do with the grand architecture of antebellum homes—including high ceilings, arched walkways, and large front porches. Or maybe it's the carefully curated interiors that are at the heart of Southern hospitality. Whatever it is, even the most modern Southern homes retain a certain charm and history that can be lost in other decorating styles. But beyond anything else, Southern décor is known for one thing: the art of the mix.

Even in the most historic homes, you see memories of the past: crystal drop chandeliers, skirted tables, and vintage settees mixed with modern accents like woven baskets, triple-arm mid century chandeliers, and contemporary art. Southern decorators have a knack for displaying mementos and blending history with modern convenience. And one more thing: They love plants—large sculptural plants in fact. Want to decorate the Southern way? Mix an antique or modern accent with a dramatic plant and pick up a few tips from some of our favorite Southern homes.

Dried Lagurus + Crystal Drop Chandeliers

Southern Décor living room with chandelier
Brittany Ambridge

In this dramatic home by Michelle R. Smith, greenwashed paneled walls are complemented with showstopping herringbone floors, an antique center table, and a Paris flea crystal chandelier. In lieu of fresh plants, the mantel is adorned with dried grass, which fits the home's neutral palette, creating a moody but elegant space.

Terrain Dried Lagurus Bunch
Terrain Dried Lagurus Bunch $18
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E.F. Chapman Petite Paris Flea Market Chandelier
E.F. Chapman Petite Paris Flea Market Chandelier $949
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Palms + Leather Chairs

Southern Décor dining room with leather and palms
Brittany Ambridge

In the Charleston home of artist Sally King Benedict, modern leather-wrapped chairs are gathered around a round skirted dining table topped with a traditional suzani. In the corner, a dramatic palm plant serves as a backdrop next to a vintage world map. The result is a mix of periods and styles that feels timeless and collected.

CB2 Potted Faux Palm Tree
CB2 Potted Faux Palm Tree $249
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Jayson Home Jaha Chair
Jayson Home Jaha Chair $1395
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Fan Palm Leaves + Rattan Chairs

Southern Décor dining room with plants and rattan
Brittany Ambridge

In this modern home by Hana Waxman, a modern tripod round table sits under a dramatic dome pendant and is surrounded with leather-wrapped Eames chairs. In the background, a single fan palm complements a small circle rattan chair from the 1950s. Though this home has a more modern edge, it retains a sense of history.

CB2 Fan Palm
CB2 Fan Palm $25
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1stDibs Rattan Circle Child Chair
1stDibs Rattan Circle Child Chair $450
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Woven Baskets + Eclectic Art

Rattan Baskets
Brittany Ambridge

In this entrance by William McLure, an antique Scandinavian console table sits under a dramatic oil portrait. Under the console, woven baskets are filled with throws, sea sponges, and a potted agave. The result: a historic beachy home that's collected yet unpretentious.

CB2 Potted Agave
CB2 Potted Agave $70
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Pottery Barn Beachcomber Round Handled Basket
Pottery Barn Beachcomber Round Handled Basket $59
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Large Plants + Antiques

Southern Décor reading nook with plants and antiques
Brittany Ambridge

In the screened porch of Sara Ruffin Costello's New Orleans home, a turquoise trellis lines the wall. In the back, an antique settee is accessorized with palms potted in blue-and-white ceramic jars, while taro plant leaves are arranged in a vase on the console to create an indoor-outdoor greenhouse.

CB2 68
CB2 68 Potted Faux Taro Plant $299
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1stDibs 19th Century Carved and Painted Louis XVI Style Settee
1stDibs 19th Century Carved and Painted Louis XVI Style Settee $3995
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Statement Chandeliers + Bright Colors

Southern Décor mixed with modern accents
Brittany Ambridge

In this dining room by designer Ashley Putman, a traditional table and chair set is centered under a midcentury chandelier. The backdrop of the room is kept a neutral ice blue, but a bouquet of crimson amaranth spray branches break up the color palette, creating dramatic flair.

Terrain Faux Crimson Amaranth Spray
Terrain Faux Crimson Amaranth Spray $48
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Aerin Sommerard Mediujm Triple-Arm Chandelier
Aerin Sommerard Mediujm Triple-Arm Chandelier $1469
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Curated Items + Beachy Feel

Southern Décor with Curiosities
Brittany Ambridge

In Michelle Adams' home, a blue-and-white palette is adopted against a backdrop of woven accents, creating a beachy look that also feels collected thanks to the antique jars and tortoiseshell adorning the room. On every surface, greenery graces the space from palm leaves arranged in a vase to a philodendron filling up a console table.

Greenery NYC Philodendron Hope
Greenery NYC Philodendron Hope $175
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1stDibs Faux Green Turtle Shell
1stDibs Faux Green Turtle Shell $2450
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Next up: 10 things the French always do when decorating.

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