Last month, we discussed the iconic southern front porch. For all its grandeur, when you pan the lens out a few feet, a home’s porch is simply an accessory. Southern residential architecture is an art form. It’s one of the region’s greatest prides and comes in many shapes and sizes. From grand mansions to chic cottages. There’s a home to fit every personality and price range.
There are many stylistic muses for Southern architecture: Neoclassical, Federal, French Colonial, Greek Revival, and the list goes on. For all the inspirational differences, I have found a few commonalities that run strong. First and foremost, they are always welcoming. Southern homes deliberately draw you in. Whether your curiosity peaks from their intricate details or the glimpses of décor seen through the floor-to-ceiling windows, Southern exteriors greet guests before the hostess even opens the door.
Secondly, they’re ready for the weather. Hot summers and active hurricane seasons are part of southern life. We know they’re coming, it’s just a matter of when. Southern homes are often elevated, with windows that open easily and multiple fans at the ready. Those classic “plantation” shutters aren’t just aesthetically pleasing either. They were created for function: Closing out the wind and the rain, while simultaneously letting the air flow. Did you know that these shutters were originally made in Greece? First made out of marble, the shutters transitioned to a wooden construction and their popularity skyrocketed in France’s 18th Century.
Finally, Southern homes are stylish. It’s all in the details. What draws me to southern architecture is their historical nod to style with a modern twist. Would you be surprised to see classic white columns across from a hot pink front door? Me neither and that’s what makes living in the south so fun! The region’s attention to house design began as far back as the 18th century. There was a great respect for European architectural styles stemming from the South’s large population of English, Irish, and French immigrants. The elegant, original details of these Neoclassical, Greek Revival, Federal and Georgian designs are still seen today. In a quintessential American move, however, southerners have adapted these architectural designs to make them individualized. Additional styles continue to be added throughout the years as well, such as Spanish and Creole inspired construction. This diversity continues to beautify the architectural landscape and makes Southern Exteriors that much more sought after. Architectural Digest top designer Thomas Jayne sums up the juxtaposition of new and old saying: “Tradition always has to be updated and pushed forward. After all, you wouldn’t send a debutante to her 80th birthday party wearing her original dress.” Although that might be a funny tradition to start…ha!
Southern homes inspire hospitality. They are welcoming, prepared, and stylish. To continue the discussion and see some of my favorite houses, please visit Old Southern Charm’s “Southern Exteriors” board on Pinterest. Thanks for stopping by!