Many of the hallmarks of Southern style are still going strong, 50 years after the first issue of Southern Living magazine in 1966.
You can see evidence of this in the 2016 Southern Living Idea House, which opens Saturday just outside of Birmingham, Ala. Here, in a classic Southern cottage with a wrap-around porch, designers with roots in this region were asked to create settings inspired by the past 50 years.
Among the designers: Mark Sikes, Margaret Kirkland, Ashley Gilbreath, Lauren Liess, and Amy Berry. Birmingham architect Bill Ingram designed the house and decorated the kitchen, family room and powder room.
To reflect the history of the magazine, designers were given archival photos for inspiration. “These rooms all reflect Southern style and show how old Southern decorating hallmarks can be reinvented,” says Zoe Gowen, senior editor at Southern Living. Some of those reinvented details reflected in the house include creative window treatments, tented ceilings, upholstered walls and patterned wallpapers.
Here are a few other practices worth stealing from the Southern Living Idea House.
Go bold with paint. Take a cue from the trademark colors of the past but give them a fresh take. Ingram used Evergreens by Sherwin-Williams in the kitchen for a dramatic look. He was inspired by the avocado green used in the 1975 Southern Living kitchen.
Don’t skimp on comfort. Gilbreath, of Montgomery, Ala., had only a tiny space on either side of her bedroom to squeeze in some sort of bedside table. She asked a metal worker to create two tiny custom tables in brass that incorporated reading lights as well as small trays to place a book, pair of glasses or small vase of flowers.
Add extra seating in unexpected places. A great part of entertaining is bringing variety to it, says Kirkland, of Atlanta. In her dining room, she added a pair of elegant aqua velvet armless banquettes from Ballard Designs that are shown against the wall but can be moved to the table if needed. “I love to be able to use the dining room for drinks before or coffee afterwards,” she says.
Tickets to the Southern Living Idea House are $15 and can be bought at the door. A portion of ticket sales goes to charity. The address is 10 Nolen St., Birmingham, Ala. Hours are Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday noon-4 p.m. Find more information at southernliving.com.