There is a certain graciousness and grandeur about Southern homes that set them apart completely. Beautiful old houses retain impressive architectural details; comfort and ease trump formality; you’ll always spot something found, something passed down, and something unexpected in homes; and entertaining is serious affair.
These gorgeous homes, belonging to five of our favorite designers in the South, exemplify all of the above. From a fun-filled family home in New Orleans to a quiet escape in Atlanta, have a peek inside these stunning spaces full of welcoming Southern charm—and steal a few decorating tips for your own home.
Sara Ruffin Costello’s Striking New Orleans Oasis
Kismet brought interior designer and Vogue sittings editor Sara Ruffin Costello to her arresting Italian Gothic house in New Orleans’s Garden District. “Like relationships, houses that speak to you come so rarely into your life, and when they do, you have to seize the moment,” says Sara, who preserved the 1868 home’s architecture and filled it with her signature touch of modern and whimsy—clean-lined designs, curvy, eye-catching armchairs, lots of quirky art, and hand-me-downs from family. It’s a mix that lends soul, drama, and lots of fun to every space.
Decorating ideas to steal: Always have a few dramatic pieces. Embrace a little tarnish. Make room for fun.
Suzanne Kasler’s Serene Atlanta Abode
Atlanta designer Suzanne Kasler has a masterful way of blending soothing neutrals with European elegance and big comfort that’s quintessentially Southern. Her own 1930s Federal-style house in tony Buckhead is testament to that intuitiveness with its thoughtfully appointed rooms in hushed hues. And while varying tones of white is the presiding shade throughout, Suzanne’s home is far from stark or minimal as gorgeous but livable upholstery, beautiful wood pieces, and collected displays of favorite objets warm up every space and corner.
Decorating ideas to steal: Pair neutrals with glints of gold. Mix high and low. Show off multiples of one objet.
Jane Scott Hodges’s Grand Garden District Home
Despite the formal architecture of her 1869 historic Greek Revival house, Leontine Linens founder Jane Scott Hodges favored a far less serious approach when outfitting the interiors of her colorful New Orleans home. Bright hues, from acid green to deep purple, provide enlivening backdrops to traditional club chairs, lots of playful fabrics and bold patterns, modern art, and, in true Southern style, guest rooms always ready with plush beds and linens. The result is a home that’s captivating as well as made for living. “What I love about our house is we live in every inch of it. There’s not a room that’s taboo,” says Jane Scott.
Decorating ideas to steal: Modernize with bright colors. Use one pattern in a big way. Don’t skimp on beautiful bed linens in guest rooms.
A Designing Couple’s Invigorating Nashville Home
When Gen and Ben Sohr, the visionaries behind the creative firm, Pencil and Paper, left their jobs in corporate America they returned to Ben’s hometown of Nashville and brought their fresh, design-savy aesthetic to the 1930s house they now call home. Following a full renovation, the couple’s home is a decidely modern take on Southern style—majorly comfy seating perfect for their family of four, punchy patterned wallpaper that veers more fun than formal, and a big kitchen for hosting friends and parties that extend into the night. “Our life here is so focused around family and friends and entertaining and cooking. Southern hospitality is real,” says Gen.
Decorating ideas to steal: Hang art in all mediums together. Focus on a fun pattern in one space. Add seating everywhere.
Tara Shaw’s Breathtaking New Orleans Home
In New Orlean’s Uptown District, designer Tara Shaw has dreamed up her own European paradise in her grand mansion, originally designed by architect Barry Fox and modeled after a house spotted in France. Inside, she’s filled it with a veritably chic selection of Continental treasures, antiques, and pieces from her own line of reproduction furnishings—all amid a serene palette of creams, whites, and beiges. It all adds up to rooms that are studied and sophisticated and brimming with European beauty and Southern warmth.
Decorating ideas to steal: Don’t be intimidated by antiques. Pick distinct pieces with patina. Go ahead and reupholster antiques with fun fabrics.