One of Houston's more famous interior designers, Ginger Barber, is known for her spare, neutral interiors. She eschews patterns and fussiness and prefers her designs to be calm and soothing with a sprinkling of pine, concrete, seagrass, stucco, iron, and linen. Practicing in Houston for over 30 years, she has cultivated a "look" that is very casual with plushy down chairs and sofas covered in basic linens - no silks for Ginger. Her interiors have a decidedly English look crossed with a Texan sensibility. Barber owns a small design store that sells English antiques and accessories, creamware and wicker baskets. It's called The Sitting Room and it's styled exactly as she would her own living room, with textures playing a major part of the design. The laid back style would fit right in with a country home in the Cotswold's. Two of Barber's publicized projects are actually for the same client. Both houses are presented here for comparison. Which do you prefer - the early English version or the new more Mediterranean, eclectic look?
The original home: typical Barber design: large blanket chest doubles as a coffee table, plump slipcovered, down cushioned chairs and sofa, pine fireplace, seagrass rugs, and lots of wicker accessories in the shelves. Notice the painted blue armoire to the right, it shows up in the new house!
Original home: antique pine table and painted chairs, various English styled antiques scattered about. The wood floors and antiques are honey colored - a look Barber prefers.
Original home: Dining room piece doubles as a buffet. Wicker baskets, religious statues, painted woods, botanicals - all typical of what Barber loves and uses time and again.
Original Home: converted light fixture, slipcovered French chairs, large hutch with a collection of brown and white transferware. This muted, monotoned look with honey colored woods is typical of a Barber design.
Original home: this picture is somewhat distorted, but upholstered headboard, muted bedding fabrics, and checks - Barber loves to use checks and Bennison, but who doesn't?
The New Home: white limestone floors, iron banister, iron candelabra and light fixture set the tone in this client's new home. The dark hardwoods on the stairs are covered in seagrass. Immediately, the differences in the two houses are apparent just here in the entry.
The new home: a three story townhouse designed by the fabulous Southampton Group brothers. Here the look is more refined and elegant than the previous house, yet it still is very casual. Blue and white dhurri rug, bold brown and cream check on recovered slipcover chair from previous home. Lacquered coffee table replaces the blanket chest. Small french antique chair comes from the older home. English antique bamboo table, linen colored slipcovers, painted wood pieces, gold candlesticks - all are trademarks of Barber's.
Close up of living room in the new home. Notice how she uses baskets and pots in the shelves. Here Barber uses unmatched chairs as opposed to the former house. The unmatched chairs look lighter and less bulky in this setting.
Dining Room: same chairs as the former home, but they have been painted darker and wear new light blue slipcovers. Blue armoire is now in the dining room as opposed to the family room in the former house. New iron and limestone table. This dining room is much more elegant than the former one, but still, retains the casual look. Out of view is a crystal chandelier, replaced the former wood light fixture.
The new kitchen boasts gorgeous antique tiles with limestone tiled countertops. Creamware pieces are typical of those sold at The Sitting Room, Barber's wonderful design shop.
Barber's usual tablescapes are heavy on concrete and large oversized pieces - nothing dainty or feminine about Barber's look.
Landing in the new home: note how much darker the wood floors are stained compared to the older home.
View of the hall with the cream linen drapes that are used throughout the home. They are full and flowing and quietly lend a luxurious feel. Pine bench with pillows made of Bennison fabric.
View from the other side of the hall. Seagrass covers this walkway. Note the interesting English bookcase on the right. The large, overscaled hanging cabinet adds to the atmosphere of the hall. Note how interesting Barber has made a space that could have been "just" a walkway. Instead, it is a visual treat to take in when moving from one side of the house to the other.
The new home's master bedroom appears to have the same bed and bedding. The toile pillows are Old World Weaver's famous oriental toile. I love the casual sofa between the windows and the red tea canister lamps. The painting above the bed appears to be the same painting above the fireplace in the previous home. As throughout the house, the walls are a sofa cream which match the linen drapes. The wood floor is left bare - the dark provides a contrast against the light walls and drapes.
Which look do you like better? The casual, English influenced first home, or the more elegant, slightly Mediterranean look of the new home? Myself, I prefer the new home!