Get to Know Barbee

Barbee’s backyard at sunset in Boulder, Colorado.

Barbee’s backyard at sunset in Boulder, Colorado.

Want to know more about the woman behind the design magic? Read this fun Q & A.

Q. If you weren’t a designer what would you be?
A. I would be a school teacher.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
A. Usually, I start up the coffee pot, let the dog out, have 2 cups of coffee, and read the newspaper.

Q. What’s number one on your bucket list right now?
A. I want to go on a photo safari in Africa.

Q. What’s on your nightstand?
A. Right now I have a water glass, an alarm clock I’ve had for 40 years, a glass lamp, and a lot more medical stuff because I just got my knee replaced.

Q. What are the three things you do before company arrives?
A. I tidy things up a bit, I cook, and I shower. I have people in and out of my house all of the time, everyone is welcome, so getting the house ready isn’t a big thing for me.

Q. What’s your favorite drink of choice?
A. Dos Equis Amber.

Q. Favorite vacation destination?
A. Tulum, Mexico. Tulum has the best beach in the world.

Q. Describe your aesthetic in three words.
A. Eclectic. Whimsical. Elegant.

Q. Design rules: one to break? one to always follow?
A. In hanging art on walls, design school taught me you should have a matching frame, matching matte, or matching content. Throw that out. It’s all changed. As far as one to follow: don’t do trendy.

Q. Favorite color combo?
A. I like natural colors, including the teals of the oceans, the oranges of the skies and the sunset, the neutrals of the sand, and the mosses of rocks.

Q. Which celebrity’s house would you love to get your hands on?
A. The late Doris Day. She would need a wonderful dog-friendly house. She has a hotel in Carmel that is all full of dogs! The city council actually approved the entire city of Carmel to be dog friendly.

Q. Share one tip for someone looking to bus out of a style rut.
A. Look for things that bring you joy and put them into your home or work environment.

Q. Is there a trend you would love to try, but haven’t been able to talk a client into yet?
A. Truthfully, I’m not very trendy!

Q. What made you go into the interior design field and what keeps you there?
A. When I was a kid, I knew I was going to do something with space or design. It was just what came naturally to me. My mother would come into my room in the morning and I would have rearranged my room again. I would pull the furniture across the floor myself. A far as what keeps me here, I do love seeing the finished product.

Q. What the best design advice you’ve ever been given?
A. Well, the best design advice I’ve been given for working with clients is that you must listen to what they want, but you also must look around and observe. You have to look at their environment just as much as you listen to them.

Q. What’s something about you that many clients don’t know?
A. I am extremely dyslexic. I use a mouse upside down. (Really!).

Q. What’s the most treasured piece in your home?
A. If my house was going to be burnt down, I’d take the lamp in my living room. It’s an old crystal kerosene lamp that was threaded into an electric lamp. My ancestors passed it down to me.

Q. Which designer do you admire most?
A. Frank Lloyd Wright.

Q. Quote to live by?
A. Leave everything better than you find it.

Q. What is a trend that you think will be going out of style?
A. I think grey is going to be a short lived color.

Q. Tell me about your first client?
A. My first project was my design school graduation project was a medical center. I designed lobbies and doctors’ offices . It was pre-computer, so everything was hand drawn. The project was full of commercial fabrics and wall coverings (there were lots of wallpaper back then!). This was over 40 years ago.

Q. Where do you go for inspiration when you’re feeling stumped?
A. My inspiration and my sanctuary space is my backyard. Sitting out there usually does the trick. (Picture above!)

Q. What are common mistakes that you see in client’s homes?
A. I’d say there are three common mistakes. 1. People hang their pictures too high. 2. They don’t pay attention to function. They don’t have lamps in the right places to serve the function of the space. 3. Replacing things out of order. For instance, they’ll put new counter tops on older cabinets that don’t have expected modifications (like dovetail full extension soft close drawers) that they’ll want to replace later. Then you have to replace the counter top again.