‘Plantation-style’ homes date from the 19th century and were to be found in the Southern states of America. They were built for the owners of sugarcane and cotton plantations, usually in a grandiose style that incorporated elements of French, Greek and Spanish design.
Plantation homes were built to cope with extremes of summer heat, in the days before air conditioning. They normally incorporated long covered porches and balconies, with wide windows. The general effect was designed to be one of light and space, and many of the internal doors would have glass panels to help the flow of light.
Most plantation homes would have a large entrance hall for the greeting of guests, as well as a formal drawing room for entertaining. The dimensions of both areas were spacious, which not only made a statement about the social position of the owner but also helped with the natural ventilation of the house by allowing the hot air to move through. The staircase was normally opposite the entrance hall and was curved and sweeping – think Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind!
If you’d like to incorporate elements of this gracious, classical style in your own home, here’s how to get the look. You really need large windows in the room to make this work properly, though, so if you live in a period cottage it’s probably not the look for you!
Traditional plantation blinds were made of horizontal slats of painted wood, and were used to completely block out light and heat from the rooms to keep them cool during the day. These days, there are modern plastic versions available in contemporary colours that make a practical, easy to maintain alternative.
These San Jose shutter blinds in sage from Blinds 2 Go are plantation shutters you can fit yourself, and they come with 63mm slats (also known as louvres) that rotate open and closed to control the light levels in the room. They’re made from an advanced polymer material that is virtually indistinguishable from painted wood, and they won’t warp, crack or fade. Prices start at £85.20.
Furniture should be made of dark wood, ideally polished mahogany. This slimline black Shelley mahogany writing desk from Alexander and Pearl will fit the bill perfectly. Normally £600, currently £540 sale price.
For a more budget-friendly option, we’ve tracked down this Capri leather writing desk, £293.99, from Harley & Lola, made from solid teak wood and finished with brown leather and intricate stitching detail. It’s foldable, so ideal for smaller spaces.
Footstools were another key furnishing note, and were traditionally worked in tapestry or needlepoint by the ladies of the house. If that sounds like too much hard work, add a classical French note with this Les Milles footstool, £199 from MY Furniture, made from solid oak with neutral upholstery.
To complete the look, add high-backed sofas and a grand piano!
Floors should be wooden, and either left bare or painted in pale colours.
Wall colours and soft furnishings should be predominantly shades of blue, grey and green to promote a feeling of coolness, with warmer highlights in pink, purple, red and yellow.The colours of this wallpaper and fabric designed by Matthew Williamson, for Osborne and Little, fit the bill well for a contemporary home.
Finish accessoring your home with real or artificial plants, mirrors to reflect the maximum of light, and one or two scatter rugs to soften the floor.
Now you just need to sit back, and wait for Rhett Butler to knock at the door!
Featured image credit: Shutterly Fabulous, featuring their beautiful tier-on-tier green shutters3