Thursday, June 27, 2013

“Downtown… you can always go, Downtown.”

Thank you Petula Clark. Thank you because this song is eternally branded in my mind during my commute to the office. And whilst at the office, and whilst leaving the office and whilst… it’s catchy y’all, real catchy! My beloved Dolly Parton has a version as I’m sure you all know. I digress…


Welcome to James Farmer Incorporated’s international H.Q.! “Perrydise” is a classically, Southern small town surrounded by pecan groves, peach orchards, farm fields and timberlands. Anchored with a “Main Street” of shops and restaurants, our main street, though, is actually “Carroll Street.” Perry, Georgia,  does have a Main Street too, for the record, but Carroll Street is our downtown’s commercial thoroughfare.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Son’s Retreat – A Retreat Indeed

For this year’s Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Showhouse and Gardens, I was delighted to be the designer for the Son’s Retreat – an upstairs suite complete with “Juliette” balcony overlooking the gardens and terrace. Last year, our Butler’s Pantry was an absolute blast of a time, and this year was notwithstanding. My inspiration for this room’s schematic came from a real life situation – you return home to your parents’  home but you return home with maybe a wife or even a wife and family! Well, not a situation for me actually, but a situation many folks are finding as they marry and return home for a visit. For my BFF Maggie, she was challenged with this scenario – do you bring your spouse into your room chocked full of pompoms, pink ribbons and dried prom flowers? Or, from the husband’s standpoint, do you bring your wife home to your Legos, first buck and pheasant and bass on the wall or your baseball cards?

Maggie did a terrific job at her parents’ home transforming a bedroom into a suite suitable for her and husband as well as her brother and his bride. I thought about this for the Showhouse – what would a son want for a retreat for not only himself but for his family too? Well, I thought to myself, “Self, you are a son too, and you would love to retreat to a comfortable room with great lighting, handsome accessories, a calming color palette, reminders of childhood, reflections from nature and somewhere else besides the bed to sit and relax. Put my thoughts and some “manpower” from the gals at James Farmer Inc, and our dream was made into reality! NOTE: I don’t make the gals from my office do all the heavy lifting – Martin Hunt with McCorquedale Transfer does give the girls a helping hand if the armoire is too heavy! Ha!

I love blues and greens. Muddle their tints and tones and my love for everything from indigo to aqua comes to fruition with my designs. I also love a mix of high and low; textures and tactile elements; and varying art mediums to achieve an overall “look”  – an overall feel and thus accomplishment of a dream, inspiration and vision.

I like to tell me clients, one of the best ways to address a room’s use is its title. This room is a bedroom – a retreat too, but a bedroom. A bed should thus serve as the cornerstone. What does a bed need? A mattress and box springs of course, but is this bed for one person, two people, a couple of dogs or a cat too? Linens and lighting – will the bed’s occupant merely sleep in bed or will they read too? Will they have a glass of water to take to bed? If so, what type of surface will suffice to place this drink?

I love balance and symmetry. A pair of lamps on matching stands, chests or tables make a bed feel anchored. So with the headboard in place (a pine design I loved for its simplicity and, well, because its pine), I kept the feel of its makeup by using two pine and mountain laurel round tables that have the feel of an English cricket table too. Sea glass hued wine bottles turned into lamps afforded the bed some light too. As for the linens proper, I kept with my motto of simple is best for bed linens. Everything from a traditional buffalo check from Ikea, to a lovely matelasse from my friends at Heery’s Too and some custom monograms from my friends at Initial Reaction in downtown Perry  made the bed akin to a good gentleman’s outfit – khaki and white, handsome and classic for just about any occasion.


The windows too were dressed like the bed –  very simply yet tailored and elegant. An aqua ikat check (ikat and check – does it get any better?) as panels framed the doorway that let out to the sweet Juliette balcony. A custom built cornice heralded the window treatments for a topper and added some architecture as well.

The Showhouse had gorgeous dark, stained oak flooring throughout, so a simple jute rug that is luxuriously soft underfoot was our foundation. A zebra hide angled under the pine coffee table gave a nod to the “wild side” but grounded further our color scheme of soft blues, creams, sepia browns, aqua and greens. Aside from the bed, the other major piece to anchor the room was my cherished aqua velvet canapé from France. The velvet is original and the dark stained legs complement the color so well. The nailheads and curves play along harmoniously and of course, fabulous pillows are a must! Chevrons in my colors and a couple ocelot patterns too gave this antique some rejuvenation and pizzazz!

Of course too, birds, turtle shells and bamboo factored into this room’s schematic. There is no denying that I love birds in artwork, painted on plates or mounted after a hunt, thus, a bird print or two, bird tapestries and a mounted pheasant too found their way into the room – or onto the walls more so. A grouping of turtle shells arrayed over the head board are a nod to a classic fauna-style décor.

Bamboo too in the form of a side chair, mirrors, bathroom shelf and even on a chest further supported my moxy of always using your favorite things in your designs.  With the bamboo chest also made of pine, well, how could one go wrong? A chunky, duck/robin’s egg hued framed mirror reigned over the chest with a finial of antlers to keep my love for nature in check.


Further enhancing my color scheme and design aesthetic was the absolutely fabulous oil painting I found in a friend’s booth at Peachtree Battle Antiques. This monumental painting depicts a scene off the coast of Maine, and the gilded frame highlights the deep blues, greens, browns and muddied colors in between. This painting also added maturity to the room too, but further attained the mix of “high and low” that I so love – especially since the chandelier (a PBA find too) was simply an antler chandelier painted white yet ever so chic too.

Another Farmer fave – a blue painted ceiling! Such a statement is reminiscent of porch ceiling across the South and I tend to use blue as my ceiling color choice. Benjamin Moore has two colors in particular I love to use, Ice Cap and Palladian Blue or watered down shades in between – depending on how blue or gray or green I wish the ceiling’s treatment to be. Wall color ended up being a watered down (usually by cutting the paint down with Benjamin Moore’s Linen White) version of Coastal Fog. Ice Cap and this Coastal Fog reduction are a terrific pair for just about any room.

From birds to blues, turtles to tables, aquas and accents galore, this year’s room at the ASO Showhouse was so much fun. I cannot thank this organization enough for their hard work and dedication, and I hopefully look back to more ASO Showhouses to come. From this Farmer’s retreat to yours, happy decorating ya’ll!

photography by Emily Jenkins Followill

Friday, June 21, 2013

It’s My Party

There’s no denying it – I love to throw a party. But throwing a party for oneself is different. I get embarrassed when people sing “Happy Birthday,” yet I can speak to a thousand people and not have a single jitter.  So when my birthday rolls around, I leave the party planning to Aunt Kathy. She is the hostess with the mostess!!! She not only can prepare a lovely party scene, but what Aunt Kathy also does is bring the thoughtful element into action. Last year’s party was amazing in Highlands, and this year we all knew was going to be tough, since it would be our first family soiree without Mimi. Though no one will ever replace Mimi, Mrs. Mary makes things better simply by her presence. She is by no means a second fiddle either – for she can sure lead the band any day!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Every Heart Beats True for the Red, White and Blue! Especially in Cashiers!


If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: Cashiers is my happy place. I am relaxed, at home and COOL there. Let me try to differentiate – I am temperature wise “cool” there. I will always be at the wrong table in the lunchroom of life I feel. Oh well – at least there is Cashiers to make me feel cool and refreshed from a Southern summer’s brutal heat. Ain’t no one cute in Dixieland dripping sweat. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Collecting Maggies… Continued… Celebrating Baby G

Collecting Maggies....part 1 here.

If they’re not getting married or having birthdays, then there is a good chance a Maggie in this Farmer’s life is having a baby – 2 out of 3 this year thus far!


My precious little chunk of a nephew Napp was born on January 17 this year and we celebrated prior to his arrival with a shower at home. Since I collect Maggies, these gals usually fall into some line or pattern – for Sister and BFF, this year it was babies… baby boys to be exact! Napp and Henry have made me Uncle and “Uncle” twice over, and needless to say I’m doubly overjoyed!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Party at Mrs. Paula’s – Thanks to my Best Pal Brandon!

Ok, y’all (now re-read that in Mrs. Paula’s drawl), my good buddy, Brandon Branch and his boss lady, the fabulous Mrs. Paula Deen, hosted a book party for me to celebrate the release of my new cookbook, A Time to Cook. The party was divine, y’all!

Mrs. Paula opened her lovely home to me, my family, my staff and my friends and some of hers too for a night of book signing, fantastic food, fun laughter with old friends, fun laughter with new friends and the chance for worlds to collide – allow me to divulge.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Collecting Maggies and a B-day Celebration

 Y’all, I don’t know why, but this Farmer collects Maggies. An odd thing to collect I know, but I amactually starting to think that it is not necessarily that I am collecting these gals. Maybe, they are just gravitating toward me – like the tides and the moon more so – a gravitational pull.

Sarah Margaret Farmer Yelton (Sister Maggie) is my sister. NOTE: She is not a nun, though I am sure there is a “Sister Maggie” in some convent somewhere.  We have the same Mama and Daddy, thus the same gene pool and further, thus, the “sister” title proper; and we share a sibling, Mere Mere (Meredtih). We also shared a childhood on a farm in Hawkinsville and all the fun that entailed. Siblings are automatically close by genetic standards, but my sisters and I are TIGHT!!! I could go on and on about them and our stories too but this sums it up – she’s my sister, “nuff” said!

Maggie Marie Coody Griffin (BFF Maggie) is my BFF. NOTE: Just in case y’all never attended middle school, BFF is the acronym for “Best Friend Forever.” In the age before emoticons, acronyms ruled the school. LYLAS, BFFL and OMG and LOL still are used in everyday texting practices., but BFF stuck with me. We’ve been thick as thieves since we were children, and not only do I count her siblings as friends too, but also her parents and grandparents. I think it is so important to be multigenerational with your friend selection – even better when they’re in the same family!

Two Maggies makes for loads of fun. If you need a photographer for your books, a Maggie can surely fit the bill. If you need a design partner to make show houses and clients’ homes lovely, a Maggie can fill that roster easily. If you need to laugh, cry, tell a joke or story, eat at a favorite restaurant, explore antique malls, play in Cashiers or Bluffton or ATL or anywhere – y’all, I assure you, there is a Maggie for the occasion. There’s an app for that… well, there’s a Maggie for that for me.

A pair is a pair and a threesome becomes a collection. Enter another Maggie.

Maggie Jenkins Lunsford (Perry Maggie) is my Perry Maggie. NOTE: This Maggie resides in Perry, as do I, and thus her geographical nomenclature. Since I am so close to Sister and BFF, The Almighty knew I needed a Maggie locally. I am VERY thankful and grateful that Sister and BFF married not only fine, upstanding Southern gentlemen, but they both married friends of mine. These buddies have been my pals since childhood and college, and I cannot ask for anything better than to have a good friend marry one of your Maggies. The only qualm I have is that these grooms took their brides away from Perrydise – that sounds harsh. These amazing men went to pursue amazing jobs and terrific opportunities home probably could not afford to offer them.  Thus, I now have Maggies across Dixieland.  But God knows that I still needed a Maggie a la Perrydise.


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