Podcast, Ep. 42 with designer Barbara Westbrook

Living room designed by Barbara Westbrook with blue shutters, white furniture, and accents of turquoise and green

The impossibly talented Barbara Westbrook stops by the podcast to talk antiquing, her book Gracious Rooms, her client work, renovating her homes, and her decorating pet peeve. And of course, we answer your decorating questions!

What You’ll Hear on this Episode:

  • Barbara tells us about some of her earliest memories antiquing with her mom in a shop in her hometown of Lynchberg, Virginia
  • How she ended up in Atlanta in the interior design business working for one of our podcast guests
  • Barbara tells us a story of Suzanne Kasler’s bathroom, and we talk about Miles Redd’s mirrored bathroom
  • We talk about Barbara’s previous home in a historic neighborhood in Atlanta
  • She talks about why it’s a good idea to live in your home before you renovate
  • Barbara tells us about why she bought her new house and the improvements she’s making to it
  • We talk about collecting items you love and finding a place for them later
  • Why she loves designing kitchens and how she’d love to just design kitchens one day
  • Her best lesson for designing a kitchen or bathroom — edited the design down to two ‘tricks’
  • How she transitioned from a petite home to a larger home
  • We talk about picture frames and Barbara’s approach to incorporating them into your decor

Decorating Dilemmas:

Karen, Taryn, and Caroline,

I’ve chosen a Denver Plaid duvet and both plaid and red shams for my Queen bed with simple, white linen grommet style drapes. I’m wondering if your Red Dorothy Rug would be too much?




We think these two pieces totally coordinate and we say you go for it! We like the way the bed in this photo is made with lots of white, so we suggest you emulate that in your space. Great idea, and good luck!


Dear Karen, Taryn, and Caroline,

I’m sending you a picture of our master bedroom which makes me a little nervous because it is so empty at the moment. We moved into a dated house a few years ago and many of our projects up until this point have been behind-the-walls and on the main floor. Our bedroom hasn’t gotten much love. It needs a lot of work, but my questions for you right now is about the lack of symmetry on the wall behind the bed. 

1. How should I handle the area above the nightstand on the side that doesn’t have a window? 

2. What sort of window treatment should go on the line window on the left side? This room does not get a lot of natural light, so that window is important!

As a disclaimer, the cream, quilted shams, coverlet, and lamps aren’t permanent. The bed bed, nightstands, duvet cover and oversize shams (the light green items in the picture) are staying. I know the foot of the bed needs something – I’m considering Ballard’s Napier bench. 

Thank you so much!

Have a wonderful day,



We let Barbara take the lead on this one since she’s the expert. She suggests you embrace the asymmetrical aspect of the window. Put a roman shade on the window, and hang the shade all the way at the crown moulding. Or if you’d prefer, you could put a shutter on the bottom half of the window, letting light in the top of the window while still giving you privacy.

Choose mismatched lamps for your nightstands. By placing matching lamps and nightstands here, you’re drawing attention to the off-center window, so on the nightstand without the window, choose a lamp that’s larger and has some shape and bends to it. Then place a more thin, tall lamp on the side with the window. Shake it up a little bit. Maybe hang something low over the nightstand so the lamp shines right on it. 

Finally place something above the headboard that has soft edges — maybe something soft or sculptural. Nothing with hard edges since you already have so many angular pieces in the room.

Good luck, Jeannine. You already have some great pieces in this space. You just need finishing touches! 

Show Notes:

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, please subscribe to the podcast in iTunes so you never miss an episode. Of course, you can always check back here to see new episodes, but if you subscribe, it’ll automatically download to your phone.

Happy Decorating!

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.