6 Things Every Southern Living Room Should Have, According To Designers

Bring on the comfy seating and backyard blooms.

Alison Gootee; Styling: Page Mullins
Alison Gootee; Styling: Page Mullins

These days, the living room truly earns its name. Whether it’s the space where you’re entertaining a crowd during the holidays, the quiet place where you can focus on your latest needlepoint project, or the laid-back hangout for your family at the end of the day, we ask a lot of our living rooms. Given the versatility of these spaces, we asked Southern designers about the things they feel are absolutely necessary in a Southern living room. Here’s what they had to say.

<p>DANE TASHIMA; Styling: PAGE MULLINS</p> Cooper chose a performance velvet for the 20-foot banquette (below). “It’s so big you don’t want to have to re-cover it,” she says. An equally sturdy fabric adorns the chairs in the breakfast nook (at right), where dogs Biggie and Ivy hold court.

DANE TASHIMA; Styling: PAGE MULLINS

Cooper chose a performance velvet for the 20-foot banquette (below). “It’s so big you don’t want to have to re-cover it,” she says. An equally sturdy fabric adorns the chairs in the breakfast nook (at right), where dogs Biggie and Ivy hold court.

Something Meaningful

Given Southerners’ penchant for family heirlooms and passed-down treasures, we’re in full support of Dallas designer Callie Windle’s declaration that every Southern living room should include something sentimental or inherited. “My own living room is no exception,” she says. “A Murano glass pear from my grandmother sits on my fireplace mantel, next to other collected Murano fruits. Hers is a reminder of what began my interest in the glass in the first place. I would walk through her home, admiring all the small, beautiful objects that littered shelves and tabletops. Displaying one of those trinkets links me to my past and grounds me in the present, reminding me to treasure beautiful things and the people they remind me of.”

<p>Laurey W. Glenn; Stylist: Matthew Gleason</p>

Laurey W. Glenn; Stylist: Matthew Gleason

An Organic Element

Given that it’s a spot that sees daily use and also where you entertain guests, it’s extra important to make the living room feel especially welcoming. Greenery or florals are a great way to set an inviting tone. “Every living room needs greens or flowers,” says Great Falls, Virginia, designer Lauren Liess. “I love both cut botanicals and even dried wildflowers and grasses.” While we can never get enough of backyard blooms, there’s something to be said for the longevity of dried options, as you can set them and forget them.

<p>Amy Neunsinger</p>

Amy Neunsinger

Conversation Starters

Washington, D.C., designer Rashida Banks considers “quirky and unique conversation starters, such as coasters” essential additions to your living room.”It adds to the southern hospitality, while providing the practicality of protecting your surfaces. Think rooster coasters, coasters from your travels, different shapes, sizes, and materials. Don't be afraid to mix and match them too. Have fun with it!” Incorporating small tokens like these not only spark chatter, they also tell your guests a little bit more about you. Consider this when choosing coffee table books, artwork for the bookshelf, and other small accessories for styling.

<p>LAUREY W. GLENN</p>

LAUREY W. GLENN

Stay-A-While Seating

Antique camelback sofas and upright chairs may look beautiful, but be sure that your living perches are actually pleasant places to sit. “You should have a comfortable seating area with a side or small drinks table near each seat,” says Dallas designer Noel Pittman. That way, you and your guests always have a place to set down your cup of coffee or cocktail.

<p>Brian Woodcock; Styling: Page Mullins</p>

Brian Woodcock; Styling: Page Mullins

Pieces with History

When it comes to your furnishings, Birmingham designer Mackin Thompson always works to incorporate elements imbued with character. "It could be passed down by family or found at a cool antique store," she says. "Nothing warms up a space like something old, and everyone loves a good story." Allison Smith and Anne Scott Gates of Maison Studios agree: "Every Southern living room should have an antique or family heirloom."

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

A Ceiling Fan

Raleigh, North Carolina, decorator Niki McNeill Brown is all about this classic method of temperature regulation. “It’s way too hot and humid in the summers to live without one,” she says. While Brown is adamant about the presence of ceiling fans, another Southern designer we interviewed in the past prefers statement lighting over fans; consider this a reminder that your home is yours alone, and designer advice that suits your neighbor may not apply to you!

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Read the original article on Southern Living.