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When you think of Southern homes, traditional images of graceful columns, a cladding made of natural materials like stone or brick and wide porches with blue-green painted ceilings immediately spring to mind. If you love this classical style, but long to add some contemporary elements, continue reading for our simple suggestions on how to introduce a modern style into your refined Southern home.

Let Your Rooms Tell a Story

Southern style often refers to the way the décor of a home reflects the history of the residing family or the town. How do you transition your home to reflect this refined approach? Start by adding one antique into each of your main rooms. This can mean adding in family heirlooms for a personal touch or buying antique pieces that speak to you in some meaningful way. Whatever piece you choose can become a focal point for the room and the base for the rest of your style elements.

Do not feel as though you have to use antiques for its original purpose. You can easily rewire outdoor lanterns or other light fixtures for use inside the home. Do you have an antique dresser that you love, but cannot use? Interior designer Rachel Halvorson suggested to Southern Living that instead of letting it mold in the garage, “[use] an antique dresser as the vanity in the powder room.” Of course, it might take you a moment or two to come to terms with the idea that the antique piece will be altered in order to repurpose it. Focus instead on the fact that this piece you love will now be seen on a daily basis while bringing its story with it.

Incorporate Personal Elements into Your Décor

In much the same way your heirlooms or antiques can add a story to your room, so can your personal pieces. Here, you can mix framed pieces with photographs and mirrors on a gallery wall. When arranged interestingly, these pieces can feel like an evolved collection of your history. Do you live in a city with an intriguing history? You can frame replicas of individual pieces that illustrate that history and incorporate it into your selection of personal photos on your display wall.

Experiment by Mixing Old and New Pieces

Once you’ve added your focal point antique, consider mixing in new, modern pieces. In fact, according to Southern Living, “[f]inding a way to perfectly balance your well-worn, loved antiques or family heirlooms with fresh, modern design and accents is the closest thing to Southern home heaven.” This does not mean that you have to fill every space with contemporary finds. For instance, hanging a piece of modern art that really speaks to you over an antique settee can provide a striking visual. Antique tables next to brightly upholstered chairs can make a statement. If you want to go with smaller modern accents, just adding a bit of mid-century lighting over an antique chair can make a significant impact.

Introduce Bold Color

When making your plans for refreshing your Southern home, you may get the urge to add a bold color to your mix. Go for it! A bright yellow bedroom, particularly one in a more shaded part of your home, can feel refreshing and energizing. Accent walls can easily work when your overall palette has been relatively neutral. Paint the backs of bookshelves with something bold or even patterned for a touch of sophistication. Once you’ve chosen which bold addition you want to make, select decorative elements that reflect or complement it. Upholstering can respond to it, as can pillows, vases, glassware or other pieces.

Going bold does not always mean choosing Pantone’s color of the year, Ultra Violet, in every space. Sometimes, going bold means adding an unexpected color, like white, to a traditional piece. As illustrator Clare Pernice told Martha Stewart Living, their style epiphany was “to give his grandparents’ Victorian mahogany table a coat of thick white lacquer.” Yes, it’s a risk and should be done by professionals, if at all possible. But if the alternative is storing a fantastic dining table that can fit up to 22 in the garage because its current state doesn’t fit your style, the risk is a manageable one. The result could be the perfect piece to add to your refined Southern home.

Add Different Materials into Your Décor

If your home revolves around a mostly neutral palette, adding in different materials can bring an interesting textural quality. There are no rules that prevent you from mixing linens with velvet or shearling wool. Mixing styles and textures can feel refined without becoming too sedate. You want your new décor to feel purposeful and collected, but not staid.

Don’t Skip the Details

Often the things that set a refined Southern home apart is the attention to details. This can refer to small elements like the elegant trim around doorways and intricately patterned wallpaper in pantries or more substantial changes like adding paneling to select walls or refinishing your original hardwood floors.

Create a Synergy Between Indoor and Outdoor Style

When the warm weather comes, you know that you are going to gravitate outside. Long, lazy evenings spent with good friends or relaxing in your favorite chair are on the horizon. For a refined touch, create a synergy between your indoor and outdoor styles. Sturdy, upholstered pieces are vital to inviting evenings full of fun and relaxation. Interior designer Lisa Palmer tells Southern Living, “Comfortable outdoor upholstered furnishings with large teak or concrete tables are what I am showing my clients.” Antique sideboards can be repurposed on wide front porches or back decks. They are perfect for highlighting floral arrangements or acting as serving stations for elegant outdoor dining.  

Visit Distinctive Collection by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate® when you begin your journey to buy or sell your unique home.