Something else that I discovered on my journeys is that the old Southern appreciation for color and pattern isn't entirely dead. For a few years now, I have written about how the saturated and, at times, bright colors that marked my Atlanta childhood have fallen out of favor, with neutral tones and soft, pale colors now mostly defining Southern decor. This isn't a local phenomenon, because I think the same thing has happened throughout much of the country. But what does surprise me is how little color is being used in the South, especially considering our region's light. We have the benefit of bright, warm light, which makes corals, yellows, bright blues, and acid greens, for example, look really smashing. (Our typically sunny light is also the reason why some of those moody Belgian colors have never looked entirely comfortable in the South- at least, that's the way I see it.) I certainly understand the appeal of neutrals, and some of my favorite homes are those which are decorated in rich, warm tones of caramel, camel, and brown. I only wish that more people in the South would take advantage of our light and indulge in a little colorful decor.
It seems that I'm not alone, because over the last month, I have heard a number of Southerners express similar sentiments, and not due to any prompting on my part, either. And after visiting a number of Southern homes during my trips, I can say that there are others who, like me, never forgot our colorful design roots. Color and pattern may not be as prevalent south of the Mason-Dixon line as it once was, but it's not non-existent, and that's something in which I take comfort.
And now, for a little taste of how some Southerners used to decorate, I give you a few photos of Southern interiors from the 1970s and 80s. Yes, a lot of the decor is dated, but look past it. I chose these particular rooms for either their vivid colors or the great printed fabrics that seasoned them. Looking at these photos decades after they were taken, I'd say that a lot of these fabrics, and many of these colors, haven't aged a bit.