Southern Design Elements for Your New England Home
Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to be in a beautiful wedding in Isle of Palms, South Carolina, a city about 15 miles east of Charleston. While down there, I was blown away by the architecture and design elements of the waterfront “cottages” and historic plantations throughout the area. Charleston was very traditionally southern, while Isle of Palms had an added coastal flair. Every day, I found myself saying, “Ooh, look at that door!” or, “Check out that porch!” I am sure my friends got sick of that quickly, but I loved it so much that I wanted to share some tips and tricks to bringing a little southern flair to Massachusetts.
“Haint Blue” Porch Ceilings:
Walking down the street in South Carolina, you will see nearly everyone’s porch ceiling is a light blue color. The century-old southern tradition of a light blue porch ceiling comes first from superstition and has continued as tradition. It was originally believed that this blue color painted on the porch ceiling would protect the home from “haints” or restless spirits that would bring evil. It was believed that the spirits could not cross water, which is what the blue paint represented. While haints may not be an everyday concern for homeowners now, it still brings a southern charm and cheerfulness that can make any porch “pop”.
TIP: Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue is a perfect “haint blue”.
While cable railings themselves may not be truly southern, I saw cable railings used for porches and decks frequently at the newer houses along the coast. A cable rail system, which replaces a typical rail system with spindles, is ideal for a coastal setting because they give the most unobstructed view to the stunning shorelines (aside from glass which is pricy and can be dangerous to birds). Using a cable railing system is a way to instantly update a deck or porch, especially if you have views you want to take advantage of.
Nothing screams the south more than a mason jar filled with sweet tea. But instead of just using that mason jar for drinking out of or canning with, use them as décor in the kitchen. Use them as storage containers for sugar and flour, or decorate your tablescape with mason jars filled with flowers or votive candles. There are even mason jar inspired light fixtures out there, like this one from Pottery Barn.
Associated with large southern plantations where they were most often used, plantation shutters are an easy way to bring a southern design staple to your Massachusetts home. While plantation shutters actually first date back to ancient Greece, they gained popularity in the 18th and 19th century in the south to facilitate their elegant design style. Used for light control, ventilation, and protection, they are an attractive way to dress your windows without much frill.
If you have a porch like almost all the homes I saw on vacation did, then you need porch furniture. A porch swing or some matching painted rocking chairs on the front porch As they say in the south when asked what every Southern porch needs, the answer is always, “A swing, a glass of sweet tea and a dog,” according to Rick Clanton of Group 3, a design firm in South Carolina. I can’t argue with that!