The Sophisticated Farmhouse


Designer Susan Fontenot doesn’t typically have preconceived notions in mind when she her team first step into a new work space.

But when she crossed the threshold into the Longleaf subdivision home of Steve and Jessie Harvey, a couple of ideas immediately came to mind.

“Initially they only wanted us to decorate a bookshelf in the living room and spruce up an office,” Fontenot explains. “We just kept coming back and doing more, and the list kept growing longer and longer.”

That list is still growing, but the Harvey’s home has, over the past year, transformed from an almost all-white, farmhouse-style abode into a wonderfully rustic home with tasteful pockets of warmth and color in every room.

Take the living room and kitchen areas for example - the house features an open concept that combines the rooms, with a giant island in the kitchen and a nook with natural-wood bookshelves next to the giant fireplace.

Fontenot and her team, which includes designers Richard Kyzar and Beth Blackwell, decorated the shelves with books and accents and brought in a couple of antique rugs that give the room a lived-in feel.

Where some designers might go wild with wallpaper or painting accent walls, Fontenot says sometimes a little color can go a long way.

The perfect example of this is the wallpaper Kyzar found for the Harvey’s stairway hall. It’s got some movement to it, but it’s subtle in with its red coloration, which corresponds perfectly with the natural wood.

“It’s hard to know when you’ve done enough,” Fontenot says. “I guess it’s just experience that tells me when to move on to another area.”

The professionals at Fontenot Designs have been building that experience since its namesake moved to Jackson and started the business in 2000.

When together, Fontenot, Blackwell and Kyzar make up what they affectionately call themselves “The Fontourage.”

“We love to shop for cool items and antiques and we go everywhere,” Blackwell says. “We do some shopping in town, some shopping out of town and everywhere in between.”

Fontenot has picked up so many items over the years, she’s thought about opening a shop of her own. But as she explains, that would tie her down.

Plus, it’s more fun to place items into homes like the Harvey’s.

“I just love working in homes with people like (the Harveys),” Fontenot says. “They have great taste and they’ve let us do what we wanted to do in here. Every day they’d come home and we’d have another room finished, and it was just like Christmas for them.”