For some, Barbara Barry's style epitomizes Hollywood glamour. Her rooms ooze sensuality and drip with luxury. Yet there's little extravagance in the interiors she designs, including celebrity homes and corporate offices, for a vast clientele. Instead, the Los Angeles-based designer creates soothing sanctuaries by imbuing her settings with Zenlike tranquility to create the signature Barbara Barry style. That style is now shared with consumers worldwide, as the Barbara Barry brand extends to furniture, carpeting, lighting, bathroom fixtures, tiles and even crystal accessories. Here, the designer imparts a few pearls on how to create Hollywood glamour in your own home without spending Hollywood money.
S@H: Your trademark style has been called Hollywood glamour. What does that mean to you?
BB: There are certain elements from 1940s Hollywood that capture the essence of my work. It's not stars and celebrities and power deals. There's nothing formal or fussy about it, either. It's casual elegance – a look that was shaped by growing up in California, where the sun's out and there's a beach and a sea breeze. I like to think of my designs as being evocative of twin-sets and pearls, cocktails by the pool. It's gracious, everyday living.
S@H: What are the essential elements to consider when creating casual elegance in a home?
BB: Most important, there's simplicity to it. It's a look that has a pared-down quality. I no longer feel I have to finish every corner. I believe in what I call the “presence of absence.” I like to come home to an empty, polished table that I can throw my handbag on. There's a saying, “When things look simple, you know you're in the hands of a master.” I really believe in that. I don't work with a lot of antiques. I find that's when people run into problems; they collect big, heavy pieces that don't work together. I started designing furniture because I wanted a simple look – pieces with good lines that would carry throughout the home, so the sum, the entire house, has continuity and an elegant feel to it.