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Southern Living House Charm October 10, 2008 10:38 AM

Another great favorite are Southern Colonial Homes, the kind of homes that you may have seen in historical movies that depicted the south during the civil war era.

Southern Colonial Home Style

Some look like mansions from the days of wealthy plantation owners. In fact, some of these homes are just that, historical architecture left over from the days of the old south. These southern classics are identifiable by a large double porch that frames the entryway of the home and is normally supported by columns.

The front hall was the public face of the typical Southern home in the Antebellum era. Reflecting the social standing of the family, the entryway was designed to make an instant impression. Typically located in the center of the home just behind the front door, it followed the symmetrical design of typical Southern homes of the pre-war period.

Southern Living Colonial Style

Functional Floor Plan in Antebellum Homes

In larger homes Antebellum style homes, the center hall typically spans the length of the house, with doors at the front and the rear, and may have even been used as a parlor. Other public rooms such as the library, dining room, and parlor are located next to the entryway. For families with smaller means, such an expansive layout would not have been possible in the average 19th century home.

A more common layout has a front hall that extends half the length of the floor plan with work rooms, such as the kitchen, scullery, and laundry behind it. Other typical features, depending on the size and proportion of the home, might include fireplaces, grand staircases, and the best furnishings in the home.

Staircases are the crown jewel of the center hall in the majority of Southern living home designs. Curving elliptical and spiral staircases provide instant aesthetic appeal to anyone entering the home. Next to white pillars, a circular staircase was traditionally the most coveted feature of a plantation owner’s home.

Southern Antebellum Style Balconies

Balconies are a common architectural feature of Southern Antebellum homes. Often tied to a specific home style, balconies adorn many types of Southern homes including Georgian, Italianate, and Classic Revival Styles. Balconies are typically supported by decorative corbels or brackets, or by columns that framed a lower covered porch or portico.

The overall design of the home determines the specific look of the balcony, but usually classic details are favored. Railings are constructed of wood and typically incorporate turned balusters.

Most of the balconies in Southern living home designs serve little functional use for members of the household. However, one practical aspect of the balcony is that it allows for greater movement of air inside the upper story of a home, as the doors that append to it are often louvered.

The sweltering heat of the summer months would have made this a welcome feature. Regardless, the primary purpose of a balcony on a Southern Antebellum home is for aesthetic appeal and showmanship.

The hot and muggy conditions of the South, especially during the summer months, almost always make the outdoors more comfortable than a home’s interior. Porches provide shade and places from which one might hope to catch a cool breeze. During the other nine months of the year, when the climate is more temperate, porches offer a great place to spend their leisure time either swaying on a swing, reading, or sewing.

Porches may have been used historically to socialize with neighbors, but only on a limited scale. In the pre-war Antebellum years, few cities existed in the South. Small farms and plantations dominated the landscape, so connecting with the larger community was not always possible.


Southern living house architecture offers classic style, comfort and practical features that make this design motif a great choice for any new custom home or if you are looking for a classic home to renovate and restore to its original splendor and southern charm.

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 October 10, 2008 3:42 PM

Thank you for this great post i loved reading about the homes of that era . Love Hazel  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
Houmas October 10, 2008 6:20 PM

This is the Houmas House.  The original home, which consisted of 4 rooms, is in the rear of the mansion and is joined to it via a carriage way.  It was built in 1775 by Alexandre Latil.  The ornate, large Classical Revival mansion was built in 1828 by John Smith Preston.


There are many plantation homes in all parts of Louisiana which usually have either colonial, victorian, or cottage styling.

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