Finding Your Modern Southern Style

When considering an update of your space, there is usually at least one existing element you love—and want to preserve. Oftentimes it’s a specific feature that adds charm and character to your space, one that you have a particular affection towards, or one that makes the space unique.

Whatever the case may be, modern interior design styles are adaptable to the inherited features of your space, and there is a lot to love about the traditional features of homes in the South. 

What is Modern Southern Style?

Image of a modern southern style Georgia bathroom, complete with blue chandelier and blue patterned wall tile.
Chandeliers are a popular and eye-catching element in Modern Southern Style.

Also known as Modern Traditional interior design or Modern Classic interior design, Modern Southern Style focuses on blending traditional features and decor with fresh, contemporary concepts. Modern interior design styles sometimes lack character and can end up feeling too minimalist and boring, while traditional styles can feel stuffy and worn out. An effective mix results in open and bright yet familiar spaces with a sense of collection, history, and time.

The great thing about this style is that depending on where you are, the existing features of your home, and the pieces you hope to use, you can transform your space by building off of existing structures and pieces you already have.

From a structural standpoint, traditional southern homes boast symmetrical, boxy structures, pillars and columns, gabled roofs, ironwork, and wrap-around porches. Design-wise, you’ll often see haint blue paint, wood flooring, charming trinkets, brass details, and patterned wallpaper. These are all great features you might consider incorporating into your remodel. 

“For our projects, we always consider the client’s favorite features before developing a design,” says Heather Zamonis Eason, owner and Principal Designer of Z & Co. Design Group. “This not only makes the design more personal, but allows us to reimagine heirlooms or architectural details that already exist to bring the most joy to our clients.”

Beauty is in the eye of the homeowner, and there are a variety of ways to put your own twist on the Modern Classic style.   

Styling Ideas

A modern classic interior design kitchen with refurbished Dutch door, brick veneer backsplash, and honed black granite countertop.
The Dutch door at the River House Rehab reminds of traditional Southern sensibilities without dating the space.

There are plenty of ways to incorporate your old, antique, and vintage items into your new space. Below we’ve broken down five ways you can upcycle traditional pieces.

  • Repurpose: This involves using a functional item as a decorative piece instead. Examples would be a serving tray hung on the wall, a teapot used as a plant pot, or a broach turned into a drawer knob.
  • Refurbish: This refers to physically altering a piece or feature to better fit a space. The Dutch door at the River House Rehab was a unique feature that our client wanted to keep, so we painted it black to match the sleek countertops and opted for an airy, semi-transparent shade. Many people are hesitant to make changes to something that has history. We like to remind folks that this way, they can get the best of both worlds–something that is reminiscent of the past but matches the new aesthetic. 
  • Reuse: Of course, it’s perfectly fine to leave pieces in their existing condition and work them into your space as is. Some items are beautiful, timeless, and impactful in their own right and should be honored by preserving their original form.
  • Rundown: For those who may not have inherited many family heirlooms, antique stores, garage sales, and auctions are great places to hunt down old, but new to you, pieces. Tons of vintage photos can be sourced online, and plenty of treasures are yet to be discovered.
  • Reinvent: This approach is a great way to seamlessly integrate modern and traditional features. The candelabra fixtures above the kitchen island and table at our North Georgia Rebuild are modern installations that evoke traditional sensibilities.

There are plenty of ways to incorporate classic pieces into updated spaces—it’s all about how you blend your old and new elements.


Current Trends in Modern Southern Interior Design

Muted blue and gold peacock wallpaper in the bathroom of the Black Oak Project. Just the right amount of flair to pull off modern southern style.
Muted wallpaper can be both stylish and reminiscent of the past.

Blue continues to be a popular color anywhere in the home, where it can be used as both a deep, rich accent or a cool, airy neutral. Wood flooring, furnishings, and finishes tend to be darker and richer, so their dramatic moodiness can contrast with creamy light neutrals. 

And of course, impressive chandeliers, muted wallpaper, and vintage rugs, like those outfitted for the Brookhaven Reno, are crowd favorites. Tile backsplashes and shiplap walls have also been the go-to to evoke that vintage, period feel. 

Modern Southern Style Musts

An image of the Briarwood Park living room with modern southern style couch, leather chair, brass decor, and classic design elements.
The Briarwood Park project seamlessly mixes traditional elements, like brass and leather, with modern decor and patterns.

When renovating your home, creating a space that fits your style and lifestyle is the number one objective to keep in mind.

Blended Tones: Another critical feature of this style is that your neutrals should be a blend of warm and cool tones. If you go with the traditional elements like brass, brick, and darker woods that are in style right now, your walls, furniture, and accessories should all lean a little cooler, but this works vice versa. 

And don’t let the muted patterns fool you. Modern Southern style can have bold accents that pop if you want it to. Take the leather armchair and patterned fireplace at The Briarwood Park project, for instance. The neutral nature of the rest of the room allows these features to pop and add so much character to the space without being overly loud.

Greenery: We often forget that what made the straight, square frames of traditional southern homes so striking was the lush, droopy greenery that frequently surrounded them. Flowers and plants were a mainstay in traditional southern dwellings and should be incorporated to juxtapose hard, structural elements throughout your space.

Plants are a large part of what makes modern traditional designs homey. However, maintenance can be challenging for some, so real or realistic faux plants can be used—depending on your preference.

The possibilities with this style are truly endless! Don’t be afraid to mix and match pieces, like a modern table with vintage chairs or mismatched black-and-white and colored photos, and think outside the box.


New Meets Old in “Modern Southern Traditional” Interior Design

Many Georgia interior designers like Z & Co. Design Group are helping homeowners reinvent Southern design by creating timeless contemporary spaces. Like the homes in The New Southern Style, designers are “taking what’s beloved, inherent, and honored in the South and making it their own.”

Find the best of both worlds with a mix of modern and traditional interior design styles—and let our concepts inspire your next project. Contact us for a consultation to help you find your Modern Southern Style. 

Z & Co. Design Group is an award-winning Interior Design and building resource firm created in 2011 by Heather Zamonis Eason, located in North Atlanta, Georgia. We provide interior design & renovation services in Georgia and throughout the United States. 

Check out what our clients are saying about us:

“Working with Heather and Tyler was a delightful experience. They never imposed their design tastes on us, but rather took the time to understand our taste, style and lifestyle. Using their incredible talent, they were able to create a beautiful design that we truly love and enjoy.

Tyler and Heather spend a lot of time and thought creating the ideal design and space, utilizing unique pieces, textures and art, which makes it unique to you, the customer.

Mike & Stacy Clever | Cumming & Blue Ridge, GA