Plantation Life in the Old South
Though a stereotypical view of Southern planters living in elegant Greek Revival mansions still exists, author Kendrick (below) states that “the majority of the planters lived in houses that could make little or no pretense to architectural beauty.  Even Thomas Nelson Page admits that most of such homes were rather plain externally, though he maintains that at least in Virginia they were beautifully decorated within and sumptuously furnished.”
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"
Plantation Life in the Old South:
“Of all the characteristics of life among the planter class of the Old South the one most emphasized in the tradition was its joy of living. The plantation life of romance was “aflame with social brilliance.” Planter homes were “temples to the religion of hospitality.”
Here to for a considerable proportion of such families the tradition but little exaggerates. Francis Taylor, a cousin of James Madison, found life in Piedmont Virginia so full of pleasure that there was little time for “great affairs.”  Another young man found himself constantly torn between ambition and pleasure; books were plentiful but there was little time to read them.
A young physician with studious inclinations found, upon marrying the daughter of a planter, that his life was so filled with social activities that he had to abandon further study. Edmund Ruffin said that social affairs so engaged the attention of planters that they were unable to attend properly to their business. He predicted the extravagance and inattention to the practical affairs of the plantation would prove the undoing of the class, as indeed it did for many.
Perhaps the most notable instance was Thomas Jefferson. A rich planter when he retired from the Presidency, he entertained so lavishly in the years that followed that he eventually became a bankrupt and died in relative poverty.
(The South Looks at its Past, Benjamin Burks Kendrick and Arnett Alex Mathews, UNC Press, 1935, page 25)