Interior design, Barbara Barry.
This California-based designer is known for her trademark look of modern luxury. Contributing Editor Karl Lohnes spoke with Barbara about how nature inspires her, and how to freshen our rooms for spring.
Barbara and Oliver | Photography: Victoria Pearson
KL: How can we bring inspiration from the outdoors into our interiors?
BB: No matter where you live you can find inspiration from nature, even if it’s from a photo. When looking for decorating inspiration, I study the subtle colour combinations I see in nature as inspiration for a room’s colour scheme. I find these subtle differences in tone and texture create calm. The colour green has an infinite range of hue (colour) and value (light to dark). I am particularly drawn to the cool blue-green of agave and find endless possibilities right there. For a northern climate, think deeper spruce-green paired with a pale blue. Sticking with a simple palette helps pull a room together.
Bowen chair, Barbara Barry for McGuire, mcguirefurniture.com.
KL: What are three simple ways to freshen up a room for spring?
BB: First, I’d recommend an energy shift. My go-to refresh is to take away as many items as possible – stripping back the room – and then rebuild it. Things never go back in quite the same way, and it changes the energy and makes a room feel refreshed. Second, think of the room as a painting you walk into, with its own focal point and colour notes. In the same way that a splash of white or colour defines a painting, so can accessories, such as pillows. A simple shift in colour can change the feeling of a room, so I change mine in spring and fall; crisp white linens for spring and a deep mustard in fall. Adding that crisp white linen pillow can make a world of difference and balance the white of a linen lampshade or window blind. Third, nothing is more effective than repainting a room’s walls in a new colour. The cost output to the great impact is nominal. Or cover the walls in a washable linen-textured paper that will add a subtle texture to the walls. They come in so many lovely colours.
Interior design, Barbara Barry.
KL: What is your current favourite neutral paint colour? Your favourite non-neutral?
BB: Benjamin Moore is my choice of paint and my current favourite neutral is Revere Pewter HC-172. My non-neutral favourite is Sagebrook Sage, but this is as far “off-neutral” as I go! My choices come from a deeply held philosophy that a neutral background allows the beauty of individual expression to come alive. It doesn’t compete with all the stuff of our lives – our artwork, fabrics, even ourselves with our changing moods. I am interested in calm spaces, calm moods, and creating a sense of harmony that comes from related shapes, analogous colours and subtle patterns, because the summation of these, when thoughtfully curated, is calm. So, I begin with a “quiet” colour for a neutral backdrop. Revere Pewter is a beautiful, quiet neutral that takes on its surroundings, meaning it reflects, in a neutral way, its context. It won’t skew lavender or pinkish. It remains neutral. Sagebrook Sage reflects my love of the colour green and my deep belief that green emits a healing vibration. Again, this particular green seems to hold any colour you pair with it, from tonal neutrals to bright and playful colour.
Revere Pewter HC-172, Benjamin Moore | Sagebrook Sage HC-114, Benjamin Moore
KL: Any tips for choosing long-lasting home investments like kitchen cupboards, flooring, bath fixtures or tiles?
BB: I love tile because it feels permanent, solid and secure. I love that it is washable, durable and always looks fresh. How lovely to tile the walls of a foyer, mudroom or breakfast room. Tile is not just for the kitchen and bath!
Radius collection tiles, Barbara Barry for Ann Sacks Tile & Stone, annsacks.com.
KL: Your newest fabric collection for Kravet is called Midsummer. Tell me about the inspiration behind it.
BB: Midsummer was inspired by that special time in summer when the light is brightest and out the longest. Who wouldn’t want that year-round? My favourite pattern is called Fairie, which is a watercolour print on cotton. It makes me feel happy just looking at it. When dreary winter rolls around, it’s nice to be reminded that those long sun-filled days are on their way.
Midsummer collection, Barbara Barry Home for Kravet, Kravet.com.