The Art of Celebrating the Small Stuff

Tips from the Georgia tastemaker James Farmer, and a peek inside his new book

Photo: Emily Followill

This week, the Georgia interior designer and tastemaker James T. Farmer debuted the latest book in his prolific portfolio. Celebrating Home: A Time for Every Season extols seasonal entertaining through the lens of two locales special to Farmer: Cashiers, North Carolina, and his hometown of Perry, Georgia. “The idea came just before the pandemic truly started,” he recalls. “I thought: How fun would it be to have a dinner party to celebrate the foxgloves blooming? And by the time they were in bloom, dinner parties and celebrations took on a new meaning—a more intentional celebration of home.”

Every party highlighted in the book (including the aforementioned foxglove soiree in his backyard) is inspired in part by Farmer’s grandmother, who once threw a family dinner for Farmer when he made the school tennis team. “She instilled in me that we feed people body and soul at our tables,” he says. “And that there’s nothing too small to celebrate. When I made the tennis team it was a given, because it was a small school, and everyone made the team. But my grandmother used her china and her mother’s linens just for me. Which made me ecstatic.” 

His approach centers on confidence. “Southerners have an inherent capability to mix the old and new, the high and low, even if it’s takeout on pretty platters. People remember the hospitality.”

Here, Farmer shares a few choice takeaways inspired by images of parties featured in his new book.

photo: Emily Followill

Rule breaking can be a beautiful thing. 

And so are fall roses on an autumnal tabletop spread, such as this one. “Fall is often overtaken by pumpkin spice everything,” Farmer says, “but in my neck of the woods, the roses are flourishing with their last fall flush.”

photo: Emily Followill

Stay flexible. There’s always a way to work it out.

“You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather,” Farmer says. “So, when rain moved this dinner from the deck to the porch, I kept the color scheme the same as my garden theme.”

photo: Emily Followill

Treat the garden like an extra room in the home, and there will always be a reason to plan a party.

“I love a garden cocktail party,” Farmer says of his foxglove soiree, pictured above. “Peach Dalmatian foxgloves are planted in November and bloom in my garden in April and May. The good old-fashioned purple makes a fun pop with her peachy pals.”

And for those looking for their own accents, a bit of news: Farmer officially opens his first retail shop, in Perry, Georgia, this fall.