Arts & Culture

How Southern Designers Stay Inspired in Quarantine

What happens when an interiors expert is stuck in her interior? Six tastemakers tell us how they’re sparking creativity at home

Even under normal circumstances, style lovers follow interior designers for inspiration—knowing what they’re reading or watching, or how they spark their creativity, is fascinating. And in quarantine, doubly so, since they are spending more time inside their own homes. Or as the North Carolina interior designer Barrie Benson puts it, “I think this quarantine business is teaching us how to live, and giving us the freedom to putter.” 

For me, that’s meant finding refuge in books that reveal others’ elements of style, from Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner, who spent decades with Princess Margaret, to Everything Is Under Control: A Memoir with Recipes by Phyllis Grant, which delves into both the inevitable bliss and excruciating lows of life. But everyone putters differently—here’s how six Southern tastemakers have found ways to spark ideas and beauty in the mess of our current situation.

Barrie Benson
Charlotte, North Carolina

“I’m poring over design books,” Benson says. “Old and new. House & Garden’s New Complete Guide to Interior Decoration; Decoration: Tradition et Renouveau; and Vogue’s Book of Houses, Gardens, People are some of the old ones, but I’m also obsessed with my newer Francis Catroux book.”

Angie Hranowsky
Charleston, South Carolina

“Reading Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid is pure pleasure,” Hranowsky says. “It’s the fictional tale of a seventies rock band at the top of their game. I want to listen to their album, but it’s not real. The telling of their lives in seventies Los Angeles hits all my style buttons.”

Lindsey Coral Harper, Lindsey Coral Harper Interior Design
New York, New York, by way of Georgia

“I’m obsessed with podcasts—anything dark, Southern, or funny, especially a combination of all three,” Harper says. Among her favorites that meet that criteria: S*Town, My Favorite Murder, Up and Vanished, Criminal, and Absolutely Not. “With all this time, I’ve also designed a furniture collection that debuts in 2021 that’s really fun. It feels amazing to get that done.”

Gen Sohr, Pencil & Paper Co. 
Nashville, Tennessee

“I’ve been compulsively shopping for vintage linens and barware on Etsy (and sharing my favorite finds in our Instagram stories), and spending lots more time in the garden to plant peonies for next year.”

Betsy Berry, B. Berry Interiors
Charleston, South Carolina

Berry is appreciating the slower pace, especially when it comes to food. Her husband, the chef Robert Berry, bakes bread every morning and exchanges it with their neighbors for fresh vegetables. “It’s amazing what we have gone back to—a simpler time.”

Erika Powell, Urban Grace Interiors
Santa Rose Beach, Florida

Powell’s home, which Garden & Gun featured last summer, is right on the water, and that scenery inspires her creative process. For her, sunset boat rides during quarantine in their family’s 1952 Duracraft are endlessly soothing. “So are sunrise trips on the water,” she says.