New Southern Living Book: Style



One of the benefits of being a blogger is you get free design books in the mail!  Books that you didn’t even ask for or even know were published just show up on your doorstep.  But, with that – you do feel obligated to blog about the book and say buy it, but it!  I’ve tried to only review the ones that I really like, but still, even then – I would recommend you look up the reviews on Amazon first before you decide to buy a book recommended by me or any other blogger.   That said, the new Southern Living book – Style – was sent to me and it took me back to another time.  It’s more like a blog in a book than something fancy written to grace your coffee table.  It’s filled with helpful tips, and how-to’s, just like those found in the magazine.  The pictures are great, and many are old favorites from Southern Accents – and they are a rare treat.  It’s not filled with houses decorated in colors and patterns that don’t match just to be hip.  The rooms instead are cluttered with books and accessories and pleasing fabrics.  The interiors are like old friends.  They are comfortable and cozy, warm and inviting.   Some of the book’s images I hadn’t seen before, and others I hadn’t seen in ages.   Truthfully, I couldn’t put the book down. I read it through twice and still go back just to browse.  It’s like a super huge issue of Southern Living  mixed a bit with Southern Accents – all without the endless advertisements.   If you like those two magazines and Southern style in general, I can assure you, you will enjoy this. 



Remember this cover of Southern Accents???


The first section of the book is called “Defining Southern Style” and I had to laugh.  Their list of what is Southern Style sounded a lot like my list of Top Ten Essential Decorative Elements (even though I haven’t even finished up the series with #10 yet!) 

Here is their list of their Southern Style elements:

Color and Pattern/Slipcovers/Collections/Monograms/Wicker, rattan, and bamboo/The Hearth/Painted Floors/Luxe Curtains/Portraits/Antiques

And here is my list of Top Ten Decorative Elements, but I guess I should call it Southern Style now:

Linen/Slipcovers/Seagrass/Curtains/Light Fixtures/Wall Décor/Antiques/Symmetry/Trends/tba

OK, so I didn’t name monograms, nor even mention them as something essential to a room, but some of our lists is so alike:  slipcovers, antiques, wicker, rattan and bamboo – (I’d put that under my seagrass element,) fireplace – (a typical symmetrical device,) curtains, portraits – (I named mirrors and portraits under Wall Décor.)  

Their list didn’t mention trends – I suppose southern houses are so classic, that they think trends are forbidden.  But their list and my list were more alike than not.  No wonder why I loved the book!  And it really got me thinking.  I always call it a “Houston” look, but it probably is just Southern Style.  See, your education never ends.


image                                                                                                                                                                                                                         This beautiful living room by Gerrie Bremermann is used to define their section on Slipcovers.  I also used this same living room to illustrate slipcovers in my Top Ten Elements #2 (here.)   Spooky, I know. 




This living room by Fiona Newell Weeks is shown in the Color and Pattern section.  I would have put this in my Seagrass settings. 




This photograph illustrates the Collections section – but really, I think of this as antiques.  Who collects anything that isn’t an antique?



This corner of a living room represented the Antiques section, but it could be Collections also.  Beautiful!




This photograph of curtains by Lars Bolander used in their Luxe Curtains section was the same one I used in my curtain chapter (Here.)  I mean of all the photographs in the world – we used the same one to illustrate gorgeous curtains?  Well, these are pretty much perfect.  You know what they say, great minds think alike!




Some images in the book are new to me, like this one.  I must have missed the original story.  Anyone remember it?




Who could ever forget this Southern Accents cover of a living room by Amelia Handegan?  That mural!!!  I’ve used this photograph on my blog many times before.




Houstonian and Indulge shop owner Cynthia Davis’ house was featured several times in the book.  Here, her breakfast room first shown years ago in the old magazine “Cottage Living” was the first time I had seen the now famous Kooboo wicker chairs – and I’ve loved them since then.





Davis’ headboard, a huge seller at Indulge, is also shown.




There are lots of how-to stories, so well done by Southern Living magazine.  This one takes a wire shelf….




And turns it into an office.   So cute!


Along with the book, Southern Living sent me a copy of their new magazine.   It really struck me how much it has changed in the past few years.   It’s much more sophisticated than it used to be, appealing to a wider audience, including younger women.   The images are bigger and the stories are longer now.  This month they had a section on comfort foods that had my mouth watering just looking at the pictures of home made macaroni and chicken.    Their feature of Interior Designer Fran Keenan’s house illustrates what Southern Style is all about and then some.   It does seem that the houses they show seem more of a cross between Southern Living and Southern Accents, which is a good thing. 

I’m still hoping that when the economy picks up, the magazines will come back strong.  Blogs are wonderful, but it takes a team to produce their photographs of houses that we all show, over and over again.   Bloggers continually need fresh blood and the magazines supply a lot of that.  Most design blogs couldn’t operate without magazine’s photographs.    Yet, despite bloggers needing magazines,  Southern Living does seem to be reaching out to bloggers.  In this issue, a before and after of a bedroom that famous blogger Eddie Ross did is simply amazing.  Plus, there is a column called “Ask Phoebe Howard” – which is exactly like a regular feature on the interior designer’s own blog HERE.   Despite all the changes at Southern Living, there are a few suggestions I would make if I were invited to a decision making meeting.  I think the layout and design of the fonts and pages needs a bit of an updating.  But, this throwback to another era might be intentional.   Southerners don’t do change well.  And I would also suggest they put out a huge book on the fabulous houses that now defunct Southern Accents featured over the years.  Maybe even a series of two or three books.  I think it would be a hit!

To order Southern Living Style, go HERE.



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