Designer Q&A: James Farmer

Designer Q&A: James Farmer
SH: We’d call your decorating style anything but beige, but we do notice your walls are often neutral, tone-on-tone pattern, or textured.
JF: That’s very intentional. Rarely am I going to paint a wall red. However, I love red in a tribal rug, or if you look closely at the grass cloth on the wall, it might be woven with a thread of red in it that creates a glow. I love mixing patterns, and I’ll joke that some of my favorite colors are plaid and trellis, but when you have a neutral background, it allows the more important things, like great artwork or a beautiful antique, to really stand out.

SH: Besides the functional necessities, what makes a room really work for you?
JF: When all the senses are engaged. I’m 6’4″, so I want something I can plop down in and not worry about it holding me up. Just because it’s a formal living room doesn’t mean you can’t take a nap in there. When you sit down, what’s the hand of that velvet—is it a linen, cotton, or silk? It’s important how things feel. I’m big on fragrance; not scented candles, but the smell of clean, of wood burning in the fireplace, or a gardenia or a clipping of tea olive in a bud vase. It’s seeing a stack of books on the coffee table and realizing the person is interested in Williamsburg, Thomas Jefferson, and yet there’s a Jackson Pollock book that kind of throws you for a loop. Decorating should be like eating potato chips with M&Ms, a combination that’s sweet and salty, a crunch with a fun pop.


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