Decorate like Scarlett | A Guide to Adding 'Gone with the Wind' Elegance to Your Space

Gone with the Wind is my favorite movie. And like most of my favorite movies, my love affair with the film was sparked by its beautiful sets. I distinctly remember two things I fell head over heels for at the age of seven or eight, when I first watched this movie: First, those green velvet drapes that Scarlett turned into an elegant gown. Second, Rhett Butler. I've loved curtains and that irresistible cad ever since. 

But while the interiors of Tara, Twelve Oaks, Aunt Pittypat's house, and the Butler manor are beautiful in all their Southern antebellum and postbellum glory, the plantation style is a bit too grand for my modern sensibilities, tendency toward Victorian, and not-so-grand budget. In this post, I've picked my favorite space from each major mansion of Gone with the Wind, and tweaked it for a modern girl's dwelling.

Let's start with Tara, shall we? Ahhh, Tara, back to where it all began. This picturesque plantation is Scarlett's family home – where young, carefree Scarlett grew up with her sisters, flirted with young men, and pined for the affection and unrequited love of Ashley Wilkes. (I can't think of him and not say, "Oh, Ashley!" in my head in my very best attempt at a Southern accent.)

My favorite space in Tara is Scarlett's bedroom. It's country chic at it's finest: ivory-painted trim and furniture mingling with darker, stained oak. Clean, crisp molding and wall paneling contrasting against ornately carved wood. It's bright and airy. It's as charming and graceful as a Southern belle. It's as sweet as Southern iced tea. And it evokes an atmosphere of pastoral elegance and fleeting innocence right before the onset of the war. 

Modern Rendition: Walls painted an almost-white gray. Antique, cream-colored, clean-lined armoire and chest of drawers. Richly-toned wooden four-poster bed, dressed in crocheted and lace-accented bedding. Breezy, gauzy white curtains. A tufted settee in rich navy blue to ground the space with a darker color. Accents of pale, robin's egg blue pulled from the Scarlett and Rhett artwork hung above the bed. Vintage glass domes, pink roses, an oil lamp-inspired bedside light, and geometric patterned rug for decor.

One can't ignore this room when posting about Tara decor. It's in this elegant parlor that those famed, gold-trimmed, green velvet drapes were hung before Scarlett took them down and transformed them into her legendary green frock. Between the busy carpet, crystal candelabras, glimmering chandelier, and overflowing floral arrangements, there's a lot going on in this ornate room. So I toned it down a bit for my contemporary take.

Modern Rendition: Cool gray walls, a minimally patterned rug, and beige sectional act as a neutral backdrop for some of the more ornate details. I kept the green velvet curtains, of course, as well as an antique chair in that bold gold hue for a splash of color. The gold and forest green are repeated on velvet and damask throw pillows on the couch. A mirrored armoire conceals the television – and lends the reflective, room-brightening qualities of the original room's giant mirror. A fancy chandelier glistens overheard. Horse-themed artwork nods to the original's, while being balanced out with a typographic print of a famous GWTW quote. The coffee table brings more clean lines to the space, while a gold side table adds another glinting bit of ornate, gold grandeur. 

We move on to Twelve Oaks, the magnificent and graceful estate of Scarlett's beloved Ashley Wilkes. Here, Scarlett flirts with young men at the picnic, professes her love to Ashley in an effort to dissuade him from marrying his cousin, and first encounters the dashing Rhett Butler. 

I love the Wilkes' library! Not only because it's filled floor to ceiling with books and accented with rich crimson fabric, but also because this is where a pivotal point in the story plays out. Here, Scarlett escapes from the picnic and the people's talk of war. Here, Scarlett steals away to fume over Ashley marrying his cousin. In her fury, she throws a vase against the fireplace. And to her surprise, Rhett Butler pops up from the other side of the couch. It's their first of many dramatic encounters – and their chemistry sizzles under the surface. 

Modern Rendition: I'd brighten it up with a stark, pale gray paint on the walls. (It's just such a great backdrop for these ornate spaces, especially when a cream feels too yellow or worn.) Books would fill a large white bookcase with a crisp finish and clean lines. Meanwhile, the wooden desk would exhibit the curves, grace, and richness of the furniture in the Wilke's library. Red curtains and an elegant red chair would nod to the original's crimson details. Around the room, antique would mingle with modern – like a gold candelabra next to a desk lamp, and a sculptural gold end table next to a curvy, ivory settee. Since there's a lot of yellow and gold in the original room, I'd throw down a rug in a similar shade but showcasing a more updated pattern.

During the war, Scarlett ventures to Aunt Pittypat's house in Atlanta. Here, Scarlette lives alongside not only Aunt Pittypat, but Melanie Hamilton Wilkes, who has married Ashley and now carries his child. (Don't you just love Scarlett's enormous red skirt, below?!)

Aunt Pittypat is old-fashioned and gaudy, and her house is, too! It's enough to need your smelling salts! But there's so much to love in all that frilly, florally decor!

Modern Rendition: Toned way down and brightened way up, I used Pittypat's decorating style as inspiration for an entryway sure to make a grand first impression. Pale floral wallpaper provides an ornate backdrop, but the light color and two-toned design isn't overwhelming. The green from Pittypat's foyer is used throughout – on a rug, on an elegant settee, and in the artwork. The settee is vintage, but upholstered in a cleaner, more geometric pattern. A boot tray is tucked underneath, and a GWTW-inspired pillow placed on top. An antique, black coat tree stands nearby for coats and hats (like Scarlett's pretty green one). And to offset all the antique touches and floral frill of this room, a stark "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." print hangs in a crisp black frame. Next to it, a framed picture of magnolias hangs. And up above, I love the old-fashioned porch light look of this ceiling pendant. 

Finally, we come to the Butler mansion that Scarlett and Rhett share in Atlanta. The postbellum beauty is built new and filled with all the latest luxuries and conveniences contemporary to that time. 

And my favorite room in it is Scarlett's extravagantly feminine bedroom! The space is nearly fit for a queen – like Marie Antoinette. The silk and tufted upholstery! The gold-on-ivory furniture! The Grecian columns and gilded mirror and enormous bed!

And that vanity. Gahhh – in this scene, I just can't get over how beautifully Scarlett's green velvet dressing robe contrasts with the the peachy, rose-gold saturation of the space. 

Modern Rendition: Since I loved that green with the rose-gold so much, I went ahead and used it as the backdrop to all the peachy, golden, pinkish glory in my contemporary take. An ornate upholstered bed and chaise lounge nod to Scarlett's gaudy furnishings, while a sleeker (but still gold-accented) vanity table and chair add some clean, modern lines to the space. The bedding includes a playful mix of damask, polka dots, lace, and sequins, while the more serious oriental rug brings in some old-fashioned balance. Silk, apricot-hued drapes dress the window. Metallic gold quote prints in crisp white frames and a dainty mirror hang on the walls, while more ornate gold pendants dangle from the ceiling. It's over-the-top girly, without being over-the-top gaudy. 

Interested in the GWTW-inspired prints and art I used in my decor boards? You can buy them all on Etsy! Just click the small square images below for the source and additional details.


Click on the images below for more details.

Which room is your favorite? 

P.S. Are you as GWTW-obsessed as I am? Check out my Scarlett-inspired fashion posts: 

1 comment:

Shelby said...

Not my style (although your post makes me think it's time I sat down to re-watch Vivien Leigh in all her glory!) but I admire how you took this classic, gorgeous movie and offered up some modern interpretation!