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Style Stories

In the Bedroom...James Farmer

Author and designer James Farmer designs in a classically Southern way. He likes his interiors to be layered with stories. Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse.


Georgia-based designer James Farmer creates interiors that are curated, layered, and rooted in tradition. To him, it’s only natural. “Like any good Southerner, most everything I design is filled with stories,” he says. In addition to running his interiors firm, Farmer has authored best-selling gardening and entertaining books. His most recent, A Place to Call Homefeatures a collection of spaces from around the country that Farmer designed.

One bedroom by Farmer that particularly caught our eye is this warm and witty paneled master suite of a client’s family vacation home on Georgia’s Lake Oconee. The couple asked Farmer to create a modern lake cottage which he did by adding full steel and glass windows on the rear facade to take in the beautiful lake views. “The master bedroom is right by the back of the house,” says the designer, “so it’s both bright and cozy.” While the windows may do a lot, we tip our hat to Farmer for elevating a classic cabin look to a new level with fresh color, classical patterns, and eclectic array of accessories.   

We asked Farmer to walk us through his creative process and reveal how to capture a little of his design magic in any room.

This tailored-meets-casual master bedroom exudes Southern charm.

For a bedroom in a family lake home in Georgia, designer James Farmer wanted the space to have “a grown-up treehouse” look. Photo by Jeff Herr.

If this bedroom had a name, what would it be?


"Grown-up Treehouse. The house is poised amidst towering trees, and the windows provide leafy vignettes from nearly every angle. These views and the natural surrounding beauty inspired the colors of the room.” 


Talk to use about the subtle, serene palette here.


"Between the foliage, native landscape, and the lake water, varying shades of green were the natural choice for the walls. I’m a fan of “uncolors” or colors that don’t reveal too much of their origin, but more tell a story through shades and hues that change with the light. In this home, we wanted the master bedroom to be an oasis for rest and relaxation. With a very crisp and neutral palate, we were led to the choice in bedding, which serves as a great juxtaposition to the depth of the window treatments and walls.” 


This is a great mix of casual and elevated. Tell us a bit about getting that vibe?


"To me, the secret to that is akin to wearing khakis and a white shirt: If your khakis and white shirt are pressed then you can put on a tie, sport coat, great loafers and head out on the town. However, you can also roll the sleeves up and wear Docksiders with a braided belt and you can head out on the boat. That’s the beauty of the mix in this room. It can be both beautiful and relaxed. It’s a foundation to build upon, so if you start with something good, you can steer it in any direction you need.”

There’s strong hits pattern here, but it never overwhelms. What’s your secret?


"The balance is in the coordination. The mixes create a rhythm as opposed to imbalance. Thus, the result is a harmonious blend.”



What are the key layering pieces here?


"Since the walls are painted wood, stained wooden side tables became a good choice. Additional textures such as pottery lamps with custom lampshades from coordinating fabrics create a feel of a well-appointed cottage. Top it off with a heavy dose of Southern-style such as monogramming and flowers from the yard. You’ve got yourself a layered, yet put-together room!”

How do you think about texture in a bedroom space?


"You have to think about how all of the senses will be engaged. The feel of the linens. The visual appearance. The actual sensation of getting into bed. All of that becomes vital in creating texture in a bedroom.”



Any traditional bedroom design rules you like to follow or break? 


"On the breaking part...I like to mix his and her initials in the monogrammed linens as opposed to solely hers. As far as following rules, I love to stick to a traditional pillow pattern: Three euros, two shams and mix it up with the one accent pillow. While I like to follow a formula with pillow placement, pillows are a great way to add interest through patterns and texture.”

Can you give us some tips to keep in mind when trying to achieve this look?

Touch and Go


"For a bedroom, it’s all about the combination of textures. The smoothness of the sheets, the quilting of the bedding, the combination of colors. All are a sensational delight.” 


Think Small


"Pay attention to the details. This may be ironing your pillowcases or putting a vase of fresh flowers by the bed.”



Farmer added texture via stained wooden nightstands and sculptural ceramic lamps with pleated shades. Photo by Jeff Herr.
“Pay attention to the details. This may be ironing your pillowcases or putting a vase of fresh flowers by the bed.”

Tell us a bit about the bedding you chose. Why was it right for this space?


"Meridian shams and duvet are traditional and classic enough to stand the test of time. That was the goal of this home, and I think we achieved it. Using the large monogram was a way to make a statement while still maintaining the crisp look we wanted with the bedding. We nearly always do custom bedding for clients. That’s one of the perks of working with a professional designer—we not only are able to provide sources for custom bedding, but we can also customize the customization. From selecting the colors and threads to the size of the monogram, we are able to achieve the exact look that our design team has envisioned. This look is definitely not a “bed in a bag”, but instead a microcosm of an entire design project showcased in one vignette.”

"Using the large monogram was a way to make a statement while still maintaining the crisp look we wanted with the bedding."

What leads you to select Matouk for a bedroom?


"We love working with the Matouk because the company gladly works with us and our ideas. Matouk’s product is guaranteed to be comfortable, high quality, and long withstanding. As a firm, our style is to never appear trendy. We are always classy and comfortable and Matouk allows us to achieve that look in a bedroom.”