After flipping through the pages of designer Barbara Westbrook’s first book, Gracious Rooms (Rizzoli, $50), it’s clear to see: you don’t have to live in the south to be inspired by southern style. The Virginia-born designer’s book showcases ten of her most elegant, yet livable interiors with helpful advice for recreating the looks in your own home. “A well-decorated room should feel like an invitation, something we all wish to offer and receive, a gesture that forms a relationship and is, I believe, the very definition of graciousness,” says Barbara.
Barbara created a welcoming retreat for guests in this bedroom, complete with an old crock turned into a lamp and an antique trunk that can be used as storage or a place to rest a suitcase. Striped linen fabric by Rogers & Goffigon adds subtle elegance to the upholstered headboard.
In this dining room, French cupboards salvaged from an old bakery act as display cases for pretty heirloom china and serving pieces. Barbara chose to flank the windows with concrete planters made by a local folk artist. “An Italian chandelier adds the sparkle I love in a dining room,” adds Barbara.
When it comes to the great room, Barbara recommends anchoring large windows with substantial furniture, like club chairs and a big sofa. If you have high ceilings, consider a dramatic chandelier to occupy the top half of the living space. “A room needs more than size to be a space that inspires pride and attracts family members to spend time in it,” says Barbara.
Painting the wall paneling and vanity in the same warm taupe makes the entire space feel unified and custom. A mosaic pattern on the floor adds a touch of crisp white to the toasty space, and Jonathan Browning sconces give contemporary flair to the otherwise traditional setting.
“I like to think that this house is a perfect example of an interior that feels fresh but will stand the test of time,” says Barbara. A flood of natural light comes in through the windows and French doors during the day, while bell jar lanterns illuminate the foyer in the evening. A pair of demilune tables and French urns with decorative bases echo the soft curves of the plaster-coated walls and barrel-vaulted ceilings.
Mixing old with new is a key component of designing with true southern elegance. In this dining room, Barbara had an existing set of dining chairs refinished and reupholstered. The large blossoms act like artwork on the back of each chair. “A matelass
é tablecloth lends the grand mahogany dining table more informal dress for every day,” adds Barbara.
Author: Emily Evans
Gracious Rooms by Barbara Weastbook and Heather MacIsaac; copyright Rizzoli 2015