A decade ago, interior designer Michelle Workman might have spent Friday night at a party hosted by Leonardo DiCaprio. These days, she’s more likely to enjoy happy hour with her pot-bellied pig, Sherman. The L.A. native, whose clients have included John Travolta and Kirstie Alley, left Hollywood behind in 2013 so she, her husband, Justin, and their boys, Brody and Hartley, could experience small-town life. After a lot of research, they settled on a 13-acre farm on Lookout Mountain, Georgia, putting in an offer sight unseen. “We wanted to be near a ‘largish’ city, and Atlanta is very close in terms of driving time—at least for someone from L.A.—and Chattanooga is small but quite cosmopolitan for its size,” she says. “My goal was to have something like three acres for a Martha Stewart–type compound, but we ended up with a bit more.”
She brought the glam with her. The couple wanted a farm lifestyle so their animal-loving boys could grow up with plenty of critters and room to roam, but their home hardly screams “country.” Over the years, the Workmans redid parts of the ’90s-era house to better reflect their sensibilities (“you can see my personality in spades,” Michelle says). Her collection of furniture and accessories would make design icon Dorothy Draper (and her TV namesake, Don Draper) proud: Think brass bar carts, Italian lamps, and lots of velvet. Her closet is stocked with vintage gowns. “My personal style is very ‘old Hollywood,’ she says. “It’s a mix of mid-mod and traditional, updated with the use of saturated color. The traditional part of it is what makes the look work for a farmhouse—that and lots of baskets,” she quips. The house has even served as a laboratory for some of her own lines of furniture and wallpaper with French Heritage and Dynasty Home, respectively.
Michelle has been touted as a celebrity designer—with big spreads in Veranda—but that persona mostly takes a backseat to country life these days. Michelle reports: “Instead of decorating homes for Jennifer Lopez, I’m now choosing colors for the henhouse!”