Our friend, James Wheeler, of J. Wheeler Designs has agreed to be featured as our latest Tastemaker for the blog for steve mckenzie’s and we couldn’t be more thrilled! His unique take on design often leaves us speechless and his use of color and texture is just phenomenal. Plus, he’s just a really nice person to boot. We feel so lucky we’ve had the opportunity to get to know him, and his work and we’re waiting with baited breath to see his next project! Please read below to learn a bit about James and to see his responses to our fun Tastemaker questions…
A Georgia native, James founded J. Wheeler Designs in 2012 after a decade of experience designing residential interiors. His classic meets contemporary style has been injected into small and large scale spaces throughout Atlanta and the Southeastern United States. James’ methodology is led by the philosophy that the home should be a haven and the primary centerpiece for life’s moments. His work has been featured in Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Real Simple, Rue, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles and other national shelter publications.
1. Three words that describe your aesthetic?
Timeless, Livable, Sophisticated
2. Would you please share a little about your favorite space/project to date?
I have a number of projects that I would consider my favorite and it seems that each project we complete quickly becomes my favorite. I am particularly fond of a project we recently completed in San Francisco – a full remodel of a classic Bungalow in Berkeley which began with the kitchen and master bath. The primary reason I love this project is because of the clients. They are the most amazing couple with the best energy. They are open to learning about all aspects of design and they really enjoy the process. Their energy and excitement has made this project easy and fun which can sometimes be challenging when living in the middle of a remodel. The design is pretty amazing, too!
3. What’s the source(s) of your inspiration?
I try my best to remain open to everything around me since inspiration can be drawn from some of the most unexpected places. Some of my go-to sources of inspiration include fashion photography, nature, travel, music and a really good hotel.
4. Name three people (alive or dead) you’d invite to your dream dinner party…
Jackie O for the history and sophistication, Joan Collins because I grew up watching Dynasty and it reminds me of a time of excess and I would want her to share those stories and Adele because of her humor and to provide some quality entertainment.
5. A piece of/type of furniture you couldn’t live without?
A really good sofa. One with great design but more importantly one that is comfortable. Preferably an aged leather or upholstered down.
6. Do you follow a particular set of rules when mixing textures, finishes, etc. – how do they work for you?
I am not classically trained in design so everything I know about the field is self-taught. I do not follow any particular set of rules when designing a space and I am not afraid to mix things that are unexpected or that may not be technically correct. My primary goal with any space is that it functions for my client’s needs and that it creates a sense of peace and order. I want my clients to fall in love with the spaces they entrust us to design every time they walk through the door.
7. Trending… What is something you are currently “into” and something you are “over?”Loving – Color – it’s so wonderful to see a return to color in every aspect of designOver – The color Gray. A beautiful neutral that is timeless when used properly but completely overdone at the moment
8. How does artwork fit into your designs?Artwork is a must for all of our designs. When I’m meeting with a client for the first time I like to understand if they are collectors or if they are looking to build a collection and their views on art. I find clients that are not collectors typically just aren’t as informed about art. For these clients we have the privilege of exposing them to the importance of original art and how it can really impact a space. It’s always fun to see them drawn to a particular piece or artist and then bring that into their spaces. For our clients that are collectors, we have the great opportunity to incorporate these pieces into our work and it often serves as a jumping off point for our designs. My belief is that art personalizes a space and makes it unique to that individual so it’s important to bring into any space we design.9. What would be the one thing you would have if you were stranded on a deserted island?
A telephone with an unlimited battery supply and a strong signal so I could call for help and be whisked away to the nearest boutique hotel for a terribly indulgent meal.
10. Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to someone looking to break into the interior design industry.
Find a good mentor, someone you trust who can give you candid advice and be boldly honest with you. A great mentor can make all the difference and I have found them to be invaluable in my career. I would also say that you can never underestimate the power of relationships in this business. Carve out time in your schedule to spend time really investing in relationships and cultivating them. You will draw upon these relationships more than you will ever know in the design industry so be kind to people and really spend time getting to know who they are.
That fish wallpaper above a bold and amazing selection! It’s those kind of design elements that have made us true fans of James’ work. We can also attest that he follows his own advice on creating relationships… And we agree – especially here within our local design community, which sometimes feels more like a family, ha!
Thank you James for being our latest Tastemaker!