Decorating & Design

March 29, 2011

Classic Savannah Style

I had the chance to travel to Savannah, Georgia a few weeks back and I jumped at the opportunity. I was there last summer and fell in love, and I’ve been determined to revisit ever since. Known as the “Hostess City of the South”, this beautiful historic city makes a perfect long weekend getaway. It is one of the most picturesque cities I’ve ever seen, filled with Colonial architecture and the warmest people you’ll ever meet. My mom suitably called it the “Kingston of the South”. It has the same feel as Kingston, Ontario — old world architecture and history, cobblestone streets lined with boutiques, fantastic restaurants on the water, and so much charm you don’t know what to do with it all.

Savannah is home to the Savannah College of Art and Design, one of the highest ranked art colleges in the world. SCAD has played a big part in keeping this old city in fine form, putting efforts into maintaining and restoring the stunning homes, buildings and churches. The architecture of the city is mainly Colonial, but also includes elements of Federal, Georgian (naturally), and Gothic and Greek Revival-style architecture. You can spend hours aimlessly wandering the streets under the trees that beautifully drape the sidewalks with their flowing Spanish moss. I tried to capture some of the architectural beauty, but as you can see below, it’s a bit difficult to get beyond the trees. Savannah is definitely best seen and experienced on foot.

No two houses are exactly alike. Every single one has its own unique characteristics to make it stand out, but each adds some visual interest and allure to the block. I love the varying pediments above the windows, the black shutters, and the intricate ironwork on the railings and balconies.

Rumour has it that this yellow giant of a house had just been sold to Marc Jacobs. He fell in love with Savannah a few years back and even opened up a shop in the middle of the Historic District.

It’s really hard to stroll up and down these streets and refrain from pressing your face up to the windows for a peek indoors.

In between the gorgeous houses are even more spectacular gardens. I stuck my camera through an iron gate to snap this shot. Just picture yourself relaxing out here with a glass of sweet tea in the afternoon sun…

Can you say dream house? Hands down, this was my favourite house. It sits facing Forsyth Park, the “Central Park”, if you will, of Savannah. You know which park I’m talking about — the one with that iconic fountain?

Yes, that fountain. I was in Savannah in February and it was a sunny 25 degrees — this 30-acre park was filled with people lounging about, playing soccer, and walking their dogs. I couldn’t have asked for anything more, especially after hearing of the snowfall that had just hit Toronto.

Here I am with my mom and aunt (my aunt is the other blonde but we always get confused for the mother-daughter duo, sorry mom) in front of yet another dream house, the Moses Eastman House. On our first day in Savannah, we did a walking tour with the amazing Bobby Davis. If you ever visit this lovely city, I would highly recommend giving him a call. He does totally affordable (and hilarious!) private tours and you’ll learn more than any guidebook could ever teach you.

Bobby took us to see the location of the famous set from the 1994 classic, Forrest Gump that was shot primarily in Savannah. Just take out the bed of tulips and add a bench and that was the location of the famous bench that Tom Hanks told his tales on throughout the film.

Although I was on vacation, the H&H editor in me couldn’t resist going into a few, okay all, of the design shops. Thanks to the SCAD presence, Savannah has a thriving design culture. I figured I should share one of my favourites with you…

How adorable is the exterior of this shop, Number Four Eleven? I loved the striped awning, painted brick, and little flower boxes surrounding the faux moulded windows.

This charming shop had it all: modern yet decorative pieces, affordable colourful accessories, monograms that would make fellow editor Michael Penney weak in the knees, and a linen collection that Lynda Reeves would love. Trust me. On top of that, Claire, one of the shop owners, is one of the friendliest and obviously stylish people I met while in the south.

If you’re looking for a mini vacation, look no further than Savannah. This eclectic and historically rich town is a must-see. Did I mention that it’s also considered one of America’s most haunted cities? And I haven’t even covered the food there! After all, it is the city that Food Network’s Paula Deen calls home. Finally, don’t forget to pack your swimsuit because the beach is a mere twenty minutes away. It really doesn’t get any better than that!

For more southern-inspired style, tour an 1830s Restoration Home.

Photo credits:
Kathryn Bala