Podcast, Ep. 218: Dutch Interiors with Barbara de Vries

Our guest today, Barbara de Vries, has a most impressive and varied background as a creative. Her prolific career includes launching CK at Calvin Klein, working on projects for Ralph Lauren and Pantone, creating her own fashion line, and co-founding her own publishing and media company. She also worked as a model and an environmental activist. Today we talk to Barbara about her new book, Coming Home: Modern Rustic, Creative Living in Dutch Interiors.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Barbara’s adventurous career path.
  • How Barbara’s Dutch lineage has inspired her philosophy and style.
  • The difference between using the old and the new in the US vs. Europe.
  • How the work from home movement is evolving our spaces.
  • Cultural differences make a big difference in kitchen size and design.
  • Why we all can benefit from using more daily conservation efforts.
  • A Decorating Dilemma about the power of well adjusted drapes.
  • What can we learn about Dutch Interior Design to take into our own homes?
  • Barbara was a model and an environmental activist?

Decorating Dilemma

So we moved into this great house this summer. While not a completely open concept floorplan, from the living room, you easily see the kitchen, dining room and front hall. The prior owners painted each room a different color…and the ceilings different colors from the walls in the kitchen and LR.

 Overall, the palette is complimentary, but not sure if it’s quite my taste. I’ve lived in it for a while to see how I feel about it. I’ve decided that I like the LR wall color, but not the ceiling. Also, not crazy about the DR wall/ceiling color.

 The LR gets some good natural light first thing in the morning, but after about 11 it gets a bit shaded. The walls are a shade of red that’s somewhere between terracotta and berry. The ceiling us closer to salmon colored. I like the wall color it makes the room cozy and us a little more fun than white. I’m not a fan of the ceiling color. It’s okay in natural light, but with regular lighting in the evening is too pink or maybe just too noticeable.

 But how do I pick a new ceiling color!? Should it be the same color of the kitchen ceiling to give it continuity? (I don’t want a million colors, but also not sure if the kitchen ceiling color works). And I’m not sure how to pick a DR color that won’t jar with the rest of the open floor plan (current color is too yellow/brown). Also – I’m not sure if this rises to the level of a decorating dilemma, but I suspect other listeners have this question and maybe you can discuss in future designer interviews…

Dining. Room. Rugs.

So lovely but the one tried it, it just got disgusting! I love how they look in a DR because DRs tend to be a little sparse than other rooms.. Between kids and large family holiday gatherings, spaghetti sauce, pot roast, red wine…everything ends up on the floor, lol. I’m not really interested I’m Ruggables…and I think an indoor/outdoor rug might look weird?

 Any ideas? Do people do this or is it just for photos on IG?



I must say I have never seen a house with all the ceiling painted before and I understand that not being your style. Ideally, you would paint all over everything. If your budget doesn’t allow it, though, then I would advise painting the ceilings white. Your house would immediately come much lighter and bright. Going room by room, I would buy 2 paintings and a mirror for the dining to the wall to the left of your window. I wouldn’t worry about a rug because the light reflects beautifully on the natural wood floor. Drapes could also make it look cozier in there. I would get large vases and keep fresh flowers in there. I would also paint the wall below the staircase and the hallway ceiling white. I would live with the terracotta in your living room and maybe add some pieces that reflect that color. If there isn’t a rug in there, I would get a rug that picks up on those colors. And if you don’t want to paint, maybe try tile underneath the cabinets.

If all the suggestions are too much work, I would definitely start with the white ceilings, white dining room, and white panel on the stairs. It’s a great, sunny space! We would love to see the after photos!

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Happy Decorating!

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Abbey Nolte

Abbey is a homegrown Georgia peach who loves a fresh take on Southern design. When she’s not working behind the scenes of the How to Decorate blog and podcast, you can find her cheering on the Appalachian State Mountaineers and spending time with her wheaten terrier, Charlie.