Home & Garden

Three Southern Style Lessons for Any Home

Practical advice for creating thoughtful interiors from Atlanta designer Beth Webb’s book, An Eye for Beauty

The art of creating rooms that are as beautiful as they are practical isn’t easy to master, but those created by the Atlanta interior designer and Chattanooga, Tennessee, native Beth Webb over the last twenty years—from casual locales in Lake Chatuge, Georgia, to exotic getaways in destinations like Costa Rica—exude the idea effortlessly. Her work has appeared in Elle Décor, House Beautiful, and Veranda and now her first book, An Eye for Beauty: Rooms that Speak to the Senses, brings fans along for a tour of some of her most memorable rooms.

“I didn’t want this book to be a portfolio,” Webb says. “I wanted it to go deeper into the emotional components of what make a house a home.” For Webb, those components often involve three Southern ideas: purposeful utility spaces, compelling collections, and blending the indoors and out. Below she shares a little bit about her philosophy on each.

On Utility Spaces: “We, as Southerners, love a good party,” Webb says. “Our fondest memories are made in the kitchen, and to Southerners food is everything. When I design kitchens I really love a room that can multi-task, so many of my kitchens have an office tucked in one corner and sometimes there are two islands—one for eating and another for service and prep.” Another hallmark? Steel windows. Because there should always be, she says, “light, light, and more light.”

Photo: Emily Followill

An Atlanta kitchen with distinct work areas separated by a curtain that conceals the stovetop during parties. The salvaged kitchen island pulls double duty as a serving piece as well.

On Collections: “Southerners, as a whole, have some pretty big personalities and we like a good story. I’ve always found our collections help weave that tale,” Webb says. “Whether it’s a client’s collection of folk art, their federal furniture, or their taxidermy, there is always a story behind it—where they were when they found it, who it came from, or the fish tale behind that thirteen-pound striped bass hanging in the library.”

Photo: Emily Followill

A collection of mounted antlers in the foyer of a Lake Chatuge, Georgia, home.

On Indoor/Outdoor Living: “In the South we have at a minimum three seasons for outdoor living, and the outdoor room, whether it be a veranda, a screened porch, or a pool house, has been and always will be a very important part of any Southern home,” Webb says. “I pay as much attention to these spaces as I do to the family room, sometimes more! The outdoor living area you see in the image of the loggia below is used infinitely more than the living room of that house. Even in Atlanta, most of my clients use their outdoor spaces all four seasons of the year—as we all can remember many a Christmas Day that was 75 degrees.”

Photo: Erica George Dines

This outdoor loggia by Webb has all the components of an interior dining room.

To see more of Webb’s designs, order the book here.