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Southern Style    by Mark Mayfield & Editors Southern Accents order for
Southern Style
by Mark Mayfield
Order:  USA  Can
Bulfinch, 2006 (2006)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

Think of the American South, and you'll immediately think of Southern hospitality, of elegance and charm, of politeness and good breeding. All of those traits and many, many more are showcased to perfection in Southern Style. The highlight of this book is its stunning color photographs, 215 of them to be exact. The image on the front cover sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the book. It focuses on the centerpiece in a lovely Dallas home: 'A silk-draped center table provides an intimate focal point in the grand foyer, where the owner's ever-changing arrangement of blue-and-white porcelain encourages guests to linger and admire.'

Southern Style adheres to that same concept, as readers will be impelled to linger and admire every photograph. The book is divided into seven main chapters. The first, Living Spaces, focuses on 'drawing rooms, sitting rooms, parlors, entrance halls, solariums, and - in the grandest houses - ballrooms or 'assembly rooms''. The décor in these rooms ranges from subtle and understated to bold and passionate, but each one makes a solid statement. From there, we move on to Dining Areas. As the authors tell us, 'While the formal living room is a thing of the past, formal dining rooms are still very much in vogue. And for a simple reason: there is more formal entertaining in the South than anywhere else in America.' It's easy to see how these richly decorated rooms are often the heart of the Southern home.

Chapter three concentrates on splendid Sleeping Areas, showcasing luxurious four-poster beds, canopies made of rich fabric and white, flawless linens. From there, the authors move smoothly to Accessories. These perfect accents can be found in every room within a Southern home. The focus here is on the best way to 'transform spaces into individual expressions of taste.' Perhaps more than any other chapter in this book, this one can easily be applied to any home, anywhere. From clay pottery to white roses, botanical prints to 'a collection of eighteenth and nineteenth-century hand-blown bottles', each item or group of items accentuates the warm beauty of a room.

In chapter five, the book takes a more general look at Southern Architecture. Breathtaking, sweeping images of columned homes and grand mansions abound. The authors provide an in-depth look at the evolution of Southern architecture, starting with the gentleman architects of the 1800s, and taking us through to the present. In the next chapter, we learn about Gardens. With their ornamental blooms and rich shades of color, they make a stunning home look even more inviting. Readers with a green thumb will delight in flipping through the images in this section and learning about creating the perfect flower arrangement.

Last but certainly not least, the authors talk about Preservation. As Southern homes grow older, it falls to their owners to ensure that they are as well preserved as ever. Southern Style is a decorating book, sure, but it's more than that: it's a sensual experience to be savored. Anyone who delights in the elegance and warm hospitality of the South will be thrilled with this book.

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