October 2, 2017 • BOOKS, PEOPLE

Please Meet: James Farmer, Author of “A Place to Call Home”

James Farmer is comin’ to our Dallas store (located in Highland Park Village) on October 4, and he’s signing his brand new book, “A Place to Call Home.”

James, the author of several best-sellers, is a true Southern gentleman.

Along with writer, his titles include professional garden, floral and interior designer; cook; and lifestyle expert. To put it simply, he knows what it takes to make things look good.

“A Place To Call Home” is his first interior design book, and it features 11 homes–from Sea Island to Atlanta to St. Louis.

Keep reading to hear more about James’s book, style, and love for the South.

Describe your new book in 3 words.

Timeless, Southern, charming. (That may be the subtitle, too!)

What do you hope readers get from this book?

I hope folks are inspired and energized–to embrace living with Southern style and celebrate our heritage.

We need not have to apologize for using our grandmother’s china or great-aunt’s sideboard; we use it, celebrate our history, and mix in some contemporary fun, too.

How would you describe your personal home interior style?

I live in a raised cottage (Farmdale Cottage) on my family’s land in my hometown, Perry, Georgia.

It is raised like those seen in the Low Country and Creole cottages in Louisiana. Farmdale has a mix of custom and antique bricks for the foundation and the main body is painted a deep brown–like pine bark after a summer rain. Rosemary green shutters give some pop, while “carl” or “coral” doors give some pop and pizzazz.

My style is classically Southern; everything has a story! From the “look” of the home (inspired by an old post office) to the beams and bricks and furnishings… everything is a mix of old and new, fine and rough, collected and found–all pretty traditional but with a twist!

What are the 3 things that truly make a house a home?

I am big on the way a home should “feel.” That means all the senses should be embraced. The way it looks, physically feels, smells, sounds, and even tastes; you should smell and start craving cookies or bread or something yummy the moment you’re home!

I’m all about the mix of layers… no home or room for that matter should have furnishings completely all from the same time period or place. You need an antique English or French sideboard or chest with modern art above. You need solid, well-made upholstery in a sumptuous new velvet but an old coffee table stacked with books, new and old, and a crunchy needlepoint or leather chair bottom pulled up to a table. A sisal rug can cover the floor with smaller oriental rugs scattered atop. It is a mix–a collection–that makes a house a home.

Lastly, the indoors should have a healthy dose of the outdoors, too. Fresh flowers from the garden, a branch of fall leaves on the mantel, herbs from the garden seasoning dinner… don’t hesitate to bring the outside in!

What’s your favorite thing about the South?

I love that we are authentic and unapologetic about our families and using heirlooms. Our homes are not museums, but true living and breathing places to revel in our eccentricities and cherish our sensational culture.

Where else can you mix silver patterns, set a table with family china and hang the rest on the wall around an ancestors portrait while serving fried chicken and drinking champagne from a Solo cup? The South… that’s where!

What’s your favorite “Southernism”?

“Steel Magnolias” takes the cake (armadillo, at that) for the best quips and quotes.

As for me, I’ve come to rely on my Mimi’s mantra: “Be careful what you pray for; in fact, be specific. God has a great sense of humor!”

This stemmed from one time when I was little and I was “soooooo hungry! Mimi I want to eat everything in the whooooole grocery store!.” She said, “Be careful what you pray for; in fact, be specific.” And soon I realized that a PB&J sounded much better than an aisle’s worth of olives, sardines, and pickled pigs’ feet! (I grew up in the country, y’all.)