By M.J. Van Deventer
Muskogee native Charles Hamlet Faudree was remembered by friends and clients as a creative, talented interior designer with a fantastic sense of humor.
Faudree, a nationally known author of several books on interior design, died Nov. 27 at the age of 75. A memorial service for him will begin at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa.
Muskogee resident Joel Cousins remembers Faudree well. Cousins met Faudree after he had retired as a salesman for Faroy Candles in Dallas and returned to Muskogee.
“Charles decorated our home on Rolling Oaks Road,” Cousins said. “It was fantastic. His homes were always a wonderful blend of comfortable furniture and an eclectic mix of antiques. He created a very relaxed, beautiful look. His sofas and chairs were always very comfortable.”
Cousins said working with Faudree was a pleasure.
“More important, Charles was wonderful to everyone,” Cousins said. “He was very hard working, and he had a fantastic sense of humor. He could have been a comedian. The best part of Charles was his generous, giving nature.”
Faudree designed the interiors for Judy Littrell’s Muskogee home and surprised her by staging her home during a weekend when she was away. Littrell moved to Tulsa in August to open a Thayer interior fabric store in Brookside with Darcy Blackerby, a former Faudree employee.
“Charles was one of the most talented, creative human beings I’ve ever known,” Littrell said. “He was a kind, compassionate, empathetic person. He told me six months ago how much he loved his Muskogee roots. He will be missed by everyone in the design community. He was a great man.”
Although Faudree began his career as an art teacher following his graduation from Northeastern State University, interior design had been a first love since he was 10. Then, his mother, Ruby Faudree, indulged him by letting him paint the front door of their home every year, any color he wanted. He played with pastels to jewel tones and later said: “I got that out of my system early on in my career. Now, I much prefer black.”
Painting that front door was the genesis of Faudree’s interest in fabrics, colors, textures, accessories and details, the subject of his fifth book. Faudree’s design philosophy was simple.
Faudree’s first interior design book, “French Country Signature,” was published by Gibbs-Smith Publishers. It is now in its ninth printing, and 60,000 copies have been sold. He co-authored five more books on this design style.
After several decades of teaching and working in the home accessories/furnishings industry, Faudree followed his passion for design, returned to Muskogee in 1977 and opened his first interior design and antiques studio. His first client was his sister, Francie Gillman.
He moved his studio to Tulsa in the early 1980s and was discovered by Nancy Ingram, then the editor of Oklahoma Home & Lifestyle magazine. He began to acquire a diverse clientele, from across the country and Europe. He also moved often, decorating each new home, selling it, then starting another home renovation.
“I’m like Elizabeth Taylor,” he said in speeches across the country. “I say each new home is my best and last.”
Faudree’s work was published in numerous national magazines, especially Traditional Home. The Traditional Home editor, Ann Omvig Maine, wrote the foreword for his first book.
“We know whenever we feature a house Charles has designed, we will receive many gleeful letters of thanks from our readers,” Maine wrote. “To say that Charles is a favorite of Traditional Home is a huge understatement.”
House Beautiful magazine named him one of America’s top 100 interior designers from 2002-2004.
In 2008, he created his first fabric line, working with Vervain, a Tulsa-based company. He also created a French Country Collection for Thayer Furniture Co. of Muskogee. Many of the fabrics in that collection were named for Faudree’s clients.
A memorial service for Charles Hamlet Faudree will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Trinity Episcopal Church in Tulsa. In lieu of flowers, friends may contribute in Faudree’s memory to Tulsa CARES at www.tulsacares.org or Parish Church of St. Jerome, ECC at www.stjerometulsa.org. Services are being handled by Ninde Funeral & Cremation.