A southern style house refers to architecture and design popularized in the southern states of the United States of America. Dating back to the 17th century, southern house design takes its influence from many different design eras and other styles. Certain features are typical of a Southern style house, even though architectural design may vary widely between examples.
The most common and defining aspect of a southern style house is a wide wrap-around porch, called a veranda, that runs along the exterior of the house. Typically covered by an overhang and framed by a fence or low wall, the veranda provides an outdoor space with one or several seating and gathering areas. The presence of the veranda reflects the hot and humid southern climate; in the days before air conditioning, the covered porch provided shade and a place to sit in the evening as temperatures cooled.
Most historic examples of southern style architectural date from the mid-17th to mid-19th centuries, and reflect the aristocracy of the wealthy class of Southern states prior to the American Civil War. Actual design style may include a blend of popular architecture, such as Tudor half-timbered sections, colonial design, Greek columned entrances, and brick exteriors. Houses are often multiple stories in height, and many feature the trademark veranda on all levels.
Windows in a southern style house are often narrow and multi-paned, taking after French design. Many feature exterior shutters that allowed the heat and sun to be partially blocked from the house in order to keep the interior cool. The shutters, another hallmark of this design style, are typically made from carved wood and painted in a contrasting color to the exterior of the house.
The focus of interior design in a southern style house is frequently comfort and hospitality. Many Southerners pride themselves on their entertaining, so these houses feature large rooms or gathering spaces that can hold a large party. Large kitchens, bar areas, and plush furnishings add to the welcoming environment of a southern style house. Country touches are appropriate to this type of design, as an homage to the rural South. Plaid, florals, and other homespun fabrics make nice accents in an otherwise sophisticated design scheme.
Interior colors traditionally run toward cooler palettes, to help reduce the plentiful heat and humidity. Blue, cream, dove gray, soft rose, and sage green are all excellent choices for a southern style house. In cooler climates, bring warmth into the house using a traditional English-inspired palette of warm colors, such as forest green, gold, and deep maroon.