My name is the Jaunty Magpie... and I'm addicted to coffee table books. In my collection of giant photo books too large for an average bookshelf height (yay, vertical stacking!), I have books about old clocks, food/cooking, t-shirts, x-ray art, unusual record album designs, even books that aren't even in English but the illustrations are gorgeous -- and now I have another one to add to my book-cave, Barbara Barry's Around Beauty.
I was very fortunate to be invited to an event at Bellevue Towers, where interior designer Barbara Barry's furnishings were displayed in one of the Tower's penthouses. It was showcasing her pieces at Maisins as well as promoting her book, Around Beauty, that came out late last year. It's a beautiful book full of incredible photography by David Meredith, reflecting Barry's elegant, calm interior design style. It's not just a photo book, Barry lists the things she considers when designing a space, like proportion and the harmony of objects, and her process for approaching a new design. She always has fresh flowers in her rooms, and they definitely add a touch of freshness and life to a space. She has a great quote in the book about how important she considers nature with the balance of a room's design: "In nature, nothing stands alone. The whole supports the parts and at the same time the parts support the whole. And they do it effortlessly." 

Barbara Barry's design style is probably more formal than what I could maintain (have you seen my chaotic home??), but I still love looking through the different room designs, from dining areas to laundry rooms. I appreciate her taking on all living spaces, even the most practical ones, there's even a few photos of an enviably elegant linen closet. Interior design books have an added attraction because you're looking into another person's private space. Sure it's a very idealized look, but our inspiration should come from the very best. Barry's spaces are well designed but liveable. The photos look as though a person just momentarily left the room, as there are little signs of life to be seen, like an unfinished cup of tea or an artful scattering of jewelry and perfume on a dresser table. 

Interior design books like these are a little like a trip to fantasy-land, you find yourself momentarily slipping into the notion of dwelling in one of these rooms. It makes you more mindful about your own living space, considering how a room gets transformed into a place you truly feel at home in.

Jaunty Fine Print: Photos by Denise Sakaki


  1. Do you have this book in your collection: Heirloom Modern: Homes filled with objects bought, bequeathed, beloved, and worth handing down by Hollister Hovey. Another beautiful book to add to your collection.

  2. No, but will have to keep an eye out for it. Or maybe not -- I should be stopped before my bookshelf collapses!


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