How To Decorate Your Home Like The Movie Steel Magnolias

If you were born in the '70s or '80s, you've likely seen the movie "Steel Magnolias." As Vulture points out, it was remade in 2012, but many still prefer the original from 1989. You know, that one that starred Julia Roberts back before anyone knew who she was? Southern Living introduces us to Robert Harling, the actor who penned this true story to deal with the loss of his sister. It started out as a play. But it was the iconic movie that made most of us familiar with this story.

The movie was filmed in a house in Natchitoches, Louisiana that still stands today. The house has since become a bed and breakfast called the Steel Magnolia House. Owner Dan Dyess said he has maintained as true to the film's décor as possible. He tells Architectural Digest, "We kept things from the film like the kitchen cabinets, flooring, and even the kitchen table. People are always so happy they have access to the home now, and there's certainly been growing interest with the 30th anniversary coming up."

So, if you're a fan, you can spend the weekend in your favorite late '80s movie. But what if you want to decorate your home to feel like the one that housed these strong, stubborn, but wonderful women? Creating your own "Steel Magnolias" vibe isn't as hard as you might think.

Build a wraparound porch

The wraparound porch might be the first thing you notice about the house in "Steel Magnolias," outside of its size and brick exterior. It certainly adds charm to the house in its current state as a bed and breakfast. Unfortunately, it also might be one of the more challenging things to add to your home if you don't already have one.

As Upgraded Home points out, one of the first things to consider is the location of your wraparound porch. It can go in the front or back of your house. You want to make sure it doesn't interrupt the flow of things on the interior of your home. You'll also want to consider if your new porch's placement will block the sunlight from entering your home.

Once you've confirmed you won't unnecessarily darken other parts of your home, you can get a permit, make your measurements, and pour the concrete footers. Lay gravel between the footers, and install your deck framing and joists. You will need much more structure on the corner where the back or front porch meets the side, so plan accordingly. Finally, lay your deck, install it securely, and add your porch's roof. Then, enjoy endless days in your new breezy hangout. 

Pick pink stripes for your walls

In the film, Shelby's favorite color is pink, which adorns her bedroom walls. It still does, in the current bed and breakfast's "Shelby Room." According to Airbnb, guests can still stay in the room that's decorated in the character's signature shades of blush and bashful.

If you want to create a similar look in your own home, you have a couple of options. Shelby's room has a pink accent wall, while all the others have pink stripes. You can use paint or wallpaper to recreate the look. Spoonflower offers an option very similar to what appeared in the movie. More muted choices are also available (via Hova).

And you can choose the exact shades you want if you paint the stripes yourself. In the movie, the walls were medium pink stripes with white or light pink ones in the background. If you like the style but prefer darker colors, you can recreate it with mauves and pearly pinks rather than the more traditional shades used. This project is as easy as choosing your colors, measuring your walls, and taping off the lines that will serve as the unpainted portion of your walls (via Home Depot).

Hang chandeliers

According to One King's Lane, you can use chandeliers in every room of your house. And the "Steel Magnolias" house certainly puts this theory to the test. Entryways are traditional places to hang them, but they work equally well in living rooms, kitchens, and dining rooms. They can also help elevate the mood and style in bedrooms and bathrooms.

One thing to consider when buying a chandelier is determining the right size and height. The biggest mistake people make when selecting a chandelier is going too small (via Atta Girl). Another big mistake? Choosing a chandelier that is too tall or too short for the height of your ceilings.

When determining the right size for your chandelier, there is a formula you can use. Add the length of the room in feet to the width of the room in feet. This total number will give you the minimum chandelier diameter in inches. Be careful not to hang your chandeliers any lower than seven feet from the floor to allow people of varying heights to pass beneath them. Go for a chandelier with multiple tiers if you're decorating a foyer or two-story room. But make sure the bottom of your chandelier hangs no lower than the second story of your room.

Opt for wall ovens

Wall ovens were once standard because of the limited space in kitchens. In later years, ranges included an oven and a cooktop in one appliance. But, according to Cliq Studios, wall ovens are making a comeback, particularly when double ovens are needed or wanted. However, there are several things to consider before choosing this option, even if you love the "Steel Magnolias" house design.

Cost is an essential factor, but so is space, and maybe not in the way you would think. Some smaller kitchens don't have wide enough margins in their cabinets to accommodate wall ovens. If you have the space, consider whether or not a single or double oven works best. You may want to replace one of the ovens in the traditional design with a built-in microwave like the one in the movie.

If you cook and bake and need to do both simultaneously, investing in a double oven may be worth the expense. Or maybe you're just someone who does a lot of baking. The movie's classic red velvet bleeding armadillo cake may even be on the list of things you're planning to bake up in your brand-new wall oven. As any baker knows, nothing is more frustrating than having one oven and two things to cook or bake at wildly disparate temperatures so a double oven can give you the most consistent results. 

Deck out your doorstep with rocking chairs

According to Front Porch Ideas and More, rocking chairs are a classic American decoration. They've been featured in dozens of movies and add charm and character to your home. And they come in many different styles, designs, and materials. The traditional version, of course, is made of wood. But wicker and rattan options are also popular. Metal chairs are also beautiful, durable, and work well with other materials you may use on your porch.

Adding seat cushions to your rockers makes them extra comfortable (via Bustling Nest). And using the rule of three to decorate will make contribute even more to your exterior's asthetic. This rule suggests that items look best when paired with like or similar items in groups of three. Consider lining up three rocking chairs on your front porch, even if you only ever plan to use one.

You can use this rule to decorate the area around your chairs as well. Consider a trio of planters to add a pop of color to welcome spring or place three pumpkins on the steps leading up to your house in the fall. Or you can group a set of candles and lanterns in multiples of three for wintertime curb appeal.

Pick floral and bold patterns

The furniture in the home in "Steel Magnolias" is bold and vibrant. These may be styles you wouldn't otherwise consider. But if you're looking to replicate what you saw in this southern home, you will need to open your mind.

If you aren't willing to do bold and vibrant, opt for one or the other. GDC Home recommends choosing bold colors for your furniture because doing so can change the room's entire appearance. Bold patterns and prints can be another way to jazz up your space. But make sure you aren't choosing large patterns for your small furniture, as the print could end up overwhelming.

If you don't have the budget to replace your existing furniture, you could try jazzing up your current items. Or you can add bold-colored fabric trim that contrasts with your current colors or add nail head trim (via Nell Hills). You could even consider painting your existing upholstered furniture with fabric painting techniques (via A Piece of Rainbow). If you're artistic, this could allow you to create just the look you want.

Be a brick house

Brick walls abound in the "Steel Magnolias" house, both outside and in, most notably in the kitchen and living room. If you don't already have brick walls that you can expose, there are some options you can use to create this look in your home. You could use actual brick, but this can be expensive and time-consuming. And as Crafty Little Gnome points out, brick wallpapers often have seams that look less than stellar. But you can use brick veneer instead.

Think of this like laminate flooring. It's a thinner version of a brick that floats over your existing painted or wallpapered walls. And even if you're not much of a DIYer, you can easily tackle this project. The best thing about using brick on your walls is that the look works best when it is imperfect.

Your placement is also essential. Faux brick is perfect for adding warmth in a study or as a backsplash in the kitchen. It is easy, however, to go overboard when using brick veneers. Designer Bethany Adams tells My Move, "Just be careful not to go overboard. Usually, a single accent wall is enough to create impact." 

Choose dark floors and furniture

It can be easy to overwhelm with this look, so you must be careful how you combine these two items. One of the easiest ways to do this is with light-colored furniture, rugs, and curtains. But Rethority reminds us that dark wood can create a look of luxury. Consider the cozy feeling of places like libraries. For this reason, you can combine several darker colors without too much fear to emulate the look in the "Steel Magnolias" house.

If you go this route, ensure you use some lighter elements so you don't overwhelm the room. You should also consider keeping your wall colors on the lighter side, especially if the room is smaller in size. Adding a light-colored rug between your dark floors and a dark dining room table can create visual interest and make this look pop.

The shape of your furniture is more up to your personal style and the room's purpose. Another thing to keep in mind if you're considering this look is the height of the ceilings in the room. Ones with lofty ceilings tend to feel larger and work well with dark wood or tile flooring while lending to the dramatic look.

Tile your bathroom in pink

According to North Jersey, pink bathroom tile was big in the '50s and '60s. In fact, many of the houses dating back to this generation still have pink tile in their bathrooms. The popularity of this color tile during those times explains why it's a staple in the house where "Steel Magnolias" was filmed. However, you don't have to completely revert to these old-school tiles for the same look. Today, colorful tiles come in contemporary shapes and finishes to combine both vintage and modern styles.

Shelby would be thrilled to learn that pink bathroom tile is making a comeback in a whole new way. There are many ways to incorporate this color into your bathroom design, from bright to subtle and full-out pink to accent tiles. Blogger Laura Gummerman discusses rehabbing her old-school bathroom and replacing the outdated green tiles and glass bricks with pink tile and white accents (via A Beautiful Mess). She also uses a pink and white checkered shower curtain, reminiscent of the one in the movie.

Deck the walls with damask

The "Steel Magnolias" house is the perfect place for damask wall coverings because of its elegant style and feel. This wallpaper style excellently complements the regalness of the women who live and love within its walls. According to Fabrics and Papers, damask was designed to match upholstery and to serve as a substitute for tapestries. The "Steel Magnolias" decor features a bold damask, a vibrantly reimagined version of the original best suited to maximalist decorating. But there are other versions if this isn't your style or your home isn't suited to it.

Smaller homes and rooms, for example, struggle with the bold version of this wallpaper style. But grey damask, which features a grey background with white print, could be ideal in these situations or if your home has more of a streamlined design than the ornate version M'Lynn raises Shelby in. Other options include metallic and textured damasks. If this is something you think you'd like to try but you're worried about going overboard, consider starting with just a damask accent wall.

Go gold or go home

One thing you'll find in many old homes, including the one in "Steel Magnolias", is gold accents. From touches of gold in the hardware on the doors and cabinets to big, gold, elaborate frames on pictures and mirrors, you'll notice this antique finish frequently. The good news is, if you don't already have gold finishes in your home, you can easily add them yourself. There are a couple of ways to accomplish this feat, some easier than others. The first is to use Liquid Gold Leaf. As The Southern Gloss demonstrates, this simple technique can be used to quickly gild the corners of some black frames to be hung on the walls. 

For a more antique-looking finish, you can use a multi-step process (via The Creativity Exchange). Begin by applying a white primer spray paint to your frames, then let that dry for roughly 30 minutes. Next, apply a thin coat of Krylon Champagne Nouveau colored spray paint. Apply this lightly and then smear it with your fingers, so some of the white primer underneath shows through. Then, rub down the wood in some areas if you are looking for a worn look. Let the paint dry overnight, sand it down, and apply a coat of gold leaf in the corners to gild the frame. You'll need to apply spray adhesive to make it stick, but it needs to be dried to a tacky finish for the gold leaf to adhere. Once dry, use a small brush to remove the excess gold leaf.

Hang heavy curtains

The house in "Steel Magnolias" features heavy curtains in nearly all the rooms. Some are brightly colored. There is even a set with pastel stripes in one of the bedrooms. But it's the texture and weight of them that provide the feeling in the room.

As eFavorMart points out, one of the reasons we use curtains is to create a particular environment. Dark colors make things appear smaller, which makes them seem cozier. Beaded and gold or silver curtains feel lush and luxurious. Combining these two elements can make your rooms feel regal.

There are many reasons to consider using curtains to decorate your home (via Julie Williams Design). They can add color to your room, which could be very beneficial if you also choose dark floors. Curtains can also make architectural aspects of your home stand out. They work particularly well with high ceilings and can make windows appear larger. They can also make your home feel softer, warmer, and more inviting.

Use quilts in traditional and non-traditional ways

Think beds are the only place you can use quilts? Think again. Try draping them on the backs of your chairs like M'Lynn does in her bedroom. Miss Mustard Seed points out that this is a simple way to add a splash of color and a touch of welcoming character to your otherwise neutral furniture. You can throw them over the back or arms of couches or fold them on footstools in the bedroom or living room.

Looking for something even less conventional? Try hanging quilts on your walls, or put one on your table in place of a tablecloth (via Red Land Cotton). When selecting a quilt to use in your home, opt for patterns in a color that's already in your room. But opt for louder designs if the rest of your décor is minimalist or simpler ones if your room is decorated in a maximalist style. To avoid looking too antiquated or outdated, consider pairing your quilts with more contemporary furniture styles.