Southern Style

Leaf & Petal, Birmingham Home & Garden, and Southern Living welcomed the talented Mrs. Howard to Lydia and Taylor Pursell’s Abingdon Farm, a relaxed, refined atmosphere well-suited to the guest list that included many of the city’s style setters and the elegantly-sophisticated design maven herself.

A book by the celebrated designer was way past its due. With eight shops in three cities (Jacksonville, Charlotte, and Atlanta), a thriving business online, and national attention that has garnered her no fewer than 80 magazine features, Phoebe Howard has proven her position as an authority on Southern style. With a business that gained speed fast (she just began taking on interior design projects seven years ago) it’s a wonder she could fit in production time for a book.

Phoebe’s book, The Joy of Decorating, epitomizes her philosophy of gracious, livable, pretty style—a notion Lydia Pursell shares in her own designs, home, and garden design business, Leaf & Petal.

Opening her home to Phoebe and her daughter, Lydia and the design team from Leaf & Petal, dressed her restored 1949 farmhouse with creative arrangements to enhance the pastoral atmosphere. “We really wanted to do some special things to let Phoebe know how happy we were to have her in Birmingham, ” says Lydia. “We call these arrangements living botanicals. We like to do mixtures of indoor and outdoor plants. Tended properly, they will last for months.”

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In the foyer, an artistic display of moss, fern, orchids, and garden ornament such as terrariums and bird nests fill the top of a restored silversmith’s table, pictured at right. Above, a driftwood mirror brings in the view of the pasture below. “This is a big installation, ” says Lydia. “We wanted it to be both pretty and something you can experience.” Indeed, the moss, bird nests, and leafy maidenhair fern beg to be touched.

Lydia and her team work much like interior decorators. They offer in-home consultations to sync the color and scale of the arrangements with homeowner’s décor and accessories. “We have regular clients that have been bringing the same container for a decade, ” Lydia says.

Like Phoebe, Lydia knows the importance of good design. “In your home and garden, you want to create an inviting atmosphere of comfort and conviviality, ” says Lydia. With so many guests, champagne popping, and a pile of books dwindling, there’s no doubt everyone felt right at home.

“Phoebe’s work defines the new Southern style. The best part is that her stores, and now her book, make it accessible to anyone.” — Lindsay Bierman,
Editor-in-Chief, Southern Living

Cathy Still McGowin

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