This Georgia Cottage Is 2,000 Square Feet Of Holiday Cheer

James Farmer Exterior
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

For this home's architecture, Southern Living Editor-at-Large and interior designer James Farmer of James Farmer Designs was inspired by the old post office near his grandfather's family farm in Leroy, Alabama. The Atlanta design firm Spitzmiller and Norris, Inc., helped interpret the rural vernacular of that old pine- and cedar-clad structure and turn it into a home. (It's a Southern Living House Plan, so you can build it too!) This little cottage, in his hometown of Perry, Georgia, is a dream come true for Farmer. For the Christmas season, he puts a twist on traditional decor. Mixed in with the deep reds and classic greens of nandina and magnolia cuttings are festive jolts of citrusy orange, lime green, and—as his mama used to call it—"carl" (coral, to the rest of us).

Here, Farmer gives us a tour of his small cottage that's packed full of Southern holiday cheer.

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Decked Out for Christmas

James Farmer Exterior
Laurey W. Glenn

There's nothing Farmer loves more than breaking out his favorite holiday decorations each year—arranging the wreaths, gussying up the garland, and neatly decking the halls with boughs of holly. Christmas in Farmdale Cottage calls for something extra special.

Tour his country home that's filled with tips and tricks for decking your own halls in true Southern style.

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The Exterior

James Farmer Porch
Laurey W. Glenn

Cut from Your Yard

Gather greenery from your own landscape. Here, Farmer used an extra-thick garland of magnolia, cypress, and pinecones. He says, "Scale is key. Don't do dinky. Garlands and wreaths should reflect your home's scale." Glass votives line the walk to play up the facade's symmetry.

03 of 08

The Entry

James Farmer 's Foyer for Christmas
Laurey W. Glenn

Bring on the Magnolia

While some would leave the garland all green, Farmer opted for a more natural palette of rich greens and browns. Voluminous twin magnolia and cypress garlands create drama on both sides of the staircase, while an arrangement of coral amaryllis and freshly cut agarista blooms serves up plenty of seasonal cheer.

04 of 08

The Kitchen

Christmas Kitchens Warm Wood
Southern Living

Pick a Focal Point That Is Out of the Way

Create holiday vignettes in your windows to keep counters clear for party prep. "I love how my aunt's antique silver Champagne buckets herald the season with farm-fresh greenery, amaryllis, and bright nandina berries," Farmer says. An evergreen wreath gives the look depth, and a bowl of citrus adds functionality (hello, snacking houseguests!) as well as a nod to one of the South's great winter crops.

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The Dining Room

Christmas Dining Room
Laurey W. Glenn

Pair Up Trees, and Pare Down Decor

Two cedars cut from Farmer's land serve as elegantly simple Christmas trees. "I placed them in front of my dining room's big picture windows so light comes through and shimmers off the glass ornaments," he says. "I love taking Christmas throughout the house rather than spending all of my energy on just one tree." For the table, monogrammed linens and an easy but impactful centerpiece of citrus and nandina get the job done with style.

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The Living Room

James Farmer Cottage Living Room
Laurey W. Glenn

Aim High, Not Heavy

"When it comes to mantels, go big," says Farmer. But big doesn't always mean decorating with an unwieldy garland. Layer bright colors, traditional accents, and tall clippings to draw attention to the fireplace. Farmer used orange tulips and roses in red pottery to bring out the terra-cotta hues of his reclaimed-brick fireplace. Mexican pottery urns filled with nandina boughs create height and shake up the symmetry of the board-and-batten doors, sofas, and light fixtures.

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The Bedroom

James Farmer Buffalo Check Bedroom
Laurey W. Glenn

Don't Overlook Private Quarters

Excess greenery and flower trimmings get put to work as spirited accents in Farmer's baths and guest rooms. "I like to have fresh flowers and garden greens decorating the bedside tables," he says. Here, he used a small bunch of magnolia that's tied in the center with a simple burlap ribbon and then wired carefully to the footboard of his custom-made faux-bamboo bedframe.

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Take a Peek Inside:

'Tis the season!

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