We love the South. In fact, we dedicated our entire October issue to Gracious Southern Living (click here). But while living here is wonderful for many reasons, more than we can count, Jerusalem pinpointed a few at the top that we couldn’t agree with more. The best part is, each can be created in your home with very little effort and at very little cost. So no matter where you live, you can celebrate your Southern roots!
If you have a moment, visit Jerusalem’s blog, The Jolly Goode Gal, too for a peek into her Southern home.
Thanks to the adventurous spirit of my parents during my growing up years, I had the pleasure of living all over the country. From the beaches of Florida to the glaciers of Alaska, to many points in between, we saw and lived it all. But even though each state, each region, had its own charms and beauty, there is no other part of the country where âgracious livingâ is so evident as in the South. My mother, a true Southern girl at heart, despite her gypsy ways, never completely left her past behind, and the result was that no matter where lived, our home and manners where always influenced by Gracious Southern Living, all of which I try to exemplify to this day in my home.
Here are a few things that my mother and I think are âmustâ haves if you want to craft true Gracious Southern style, no matter your zip code..
One of the most underrated but valuable qualities of Southern life is learning how to take things slow, and enjoy life. Nothing else sets the rhythm for a gentile pace of life like a porch swing. I love them so much that I have two and so does my mother. Hanging on a porch or from a tree in the front yard, nothing else says âcome and sit a spellâ like swing. Donât have a tree or a front porch? Hang one inside and paint it to match your decor, adding pillows and a seat cushion for additional comfort.
My mother is famous for her Sweet Tea. Her mixture is so sweet it will make you pucker up and kiss your uncle. Whether served in the loveliest of restaurants with a simple syrup so that you can mix it to your liking, or served in a mason jar on the back stoop, Sweet Tea is a must-have beverage of Gracious Southern Living.
Southern stories and tall tales take time, and comfortable seating is essential when company comes calling. Every home needs soft places to land, deep comfy seats where visitors and family members can lounge, relax, read and daydream and to observe unofficial southern Sunday afternoon past-time–napping! Fluffy pillows are an easy way to add comfort to any Southern sofa. Whip up easy and colorful pillows using remnants of feed sacks, a patchwork of vintage fabrics or my favorite–cloth napkins in bright colors. Already cut and hemmed, you can stitch together two cloth napkins in no time to make colorful and unique throw pillows.
Speaking of cloth napkins, neither my maternal grandmother, nor my mother, ever used paper napkins, with exception of our 4th of July celebrations. The rest of the year they only used cloth. Cloth napkins to me are beautiful additions to any meal, no matter how small or large, simple or fancy. At our house we keep baskets of cloth napkins on our kitchen and dining room tables so that they are never out of reach. Not only are cloth napkins lovelier to look at, more durable in wear, and economical, they are also a great âgreenâ alternative to paper. Canât find cloth napkins that you love? Want to get the kids involved? Grab a pack of white cotton tea towels and using fabric crayons or markers, buttons, ric-rac embroidery thread or other colorful notions, and have each family member design their own. Homemade napkins are practical, personal and lovely. What could be more Southern or gracious than that?
Southerners are a storytelling people, so what could be more essential to Gracious Southern Living than being surrounded by books? Coffee table books filled with art, gardening books with tips on growing okra and crape myrtles, books of poetry, fiction and memoirs of days gone by, all help to nurture the well rounded Southern mind and imagination. All Southern homes should be places where a visitor can pull a book off a shelf and become enraptured for hours, their worlds widening with each turn of the page. Running out of bookshelf space? Create side tables out of out coffee table books. Simply stack the books to your preferred height. Worried about preserving your books? Add a great serving Â tray on top and, voila! A table is born!
What would the South be without music? The Blues, Bluegrass, Zydeco, Creole Folk, Gospel, Rock, Soul…These are just some of the music genres that find their roots in Southern living. A Gracious Southern Living home honors these legacies. Whether it is picking out Happy Birthday on the piano for everyone to sing along, or guitar and banjo pickin’ on the porch, or picking the perfect mix of Zydeco, Rock and Bluegrass for backyard BBQ party, music is second only to Sweet Tea as a must-have for all Southern gatherings. A recent crafty trend that I love is the painted piano in spicy Southern colors, these pieces really make a statement and who can resist the lure of a mustard yellow piano, with keys just waiting to be ticked?
A Southern home without family pictures is like a Graceland without Elvis. Itâs just a house. Whether it is on a stairwell, hallway or the powder room, family pictures can be found just about anywhere and everywhere in Southern homes. Finding unique ways to display family photos, old and new, just adds to the creativity and storytelling. Decoupaging Great-Grandmaâs picture onto the last piece of her favorite china is a way that you can honor her memory in more ways than one, and it will always make an interesting conversation piece at dinner parties.
So there are what I consider to be the basics to crafting a gracious southern lifestyle.
What would you add to the list?
Cheers and Blessing,