Stroll through the fascinating mix of wayward cobbled streets and the perfectly cornered “squares” of Savannah, GA and you will quickly notice something that you can’t just find in any other brightly colored coastal town. Savannah brings something different to the Southern coast—something that only an old city charmed with artsy backpack-clad Savannah College of Art and Design students, locally owned coffee shops, a well-preserved Gullah culture and antique homes unscathed by General Sherman himself, can conjure.
Step onto the curb in any famous Savannah square and you will quickly become swept away in an enchanted world of whimsy-meets-Victorian era homes accented with interesting architectural details such as copper fish-shaped downspouts, original lime-washed brick and ornately wrought ironwork.
The sidewalks, lush landscaping, antebellum homes that are abundant in local folklore, haunting tales of piracy and the openings of antiquated underground tunnels will transport you back to the olden world with just a quick glance around as you notice the horse-drawn carriages carrying passengers to their destinations.
There is much inspiration to be found in a city that has no style limits or expectations to uphold. Savannah just is. Lion heads adorn lamp posts, cherubs dance in statuesque forms in tiny gardens through narrow walkways, marble stairs lead to bright turquoise entry way doors where old brass mail slots still accept their original purpose with dignity and stone gargoyles guard sidewalks with hauntingly deep-set eyes.
We can learn from the unique character and age-old details that permeate the city of Savannah. What wonderment that would ensue if we chose to decorate our homes as extensions of our character rather than just what is in style? How much happier could we become when our homes are filled with things that inspire us, no matter the afterthought of how they work together? Let’s focus on building a home, rather than adorning a house.
It’s perfectly okay to fill spaces with items that don’t necessarily match, as long as they tell a cohesive story- the story of who you and your family are. Don’t be afraid to layer texture and color with items you have found along the way. Mix in elements that speak to your soul rather than whisper mundane words that have been spoken a thousand times.
The best way to do this is to visualize the whole of your décor. Is there a common theme or a unifying color? Just looking altogether at the pieces you have accumulated—that have spoken to you over time—will give you some clues as to what you like, if you are unsure of the direction you want to go. Find a way to tie the items together. Put a collage of photos or artwork on one wall that fit together nicely. You don’t have to display everything you own, just the things that bring you the greatest joy. When you walk into a room, you want to feel uplifted and to be reminded of your travels and memories, not surrounded by objects that you purchased just for the sake of decorating.
Savannah is a great place to visit for inspiration because it does not deny its history. Everywhere you look and every step you take has some sort of historical meaning. Sure, some colors may mash, and some textures may collide, but Savannah does not care, and it works well. When we learn to love and embrace our individualities as much as we can, then we learn to extend that newfound confidence into our most sacred place- our homes. Here’s to waving “arrivederci” to ubiquitous trends, and embracing color, texture and personality.
It is apparent that those who came before us, at least in Savannah, used decorating their homes as a means of showing who they were, and not just what money could afford. Instead of the lavish, they chose quirky. In place of overdone extravagance, they chose the ornate and unusual. The pairings of texture and play of color continue to inspire all of us who are lucky enough to have walked Savannah’s history-laden streets. Let’s hope we can all give a nod to Savannah’s many layers of whimsy when we choose to decorate our own abodes.
Kayla DeVito is writer, photographer and the owner of Old Grace Gathering Co., a company dedicated to giving back to the community. Together with her husband, Kayla also converted a vintage bus into a traveling jewelry store. Discover more on Facebook and Instagram.