Barbara Westbrook: Composing “Gracious Rooms”

Celebrated designer Barbara Westbrook will be signing copies of her new book, “Gracious Rooms,” November 11 at Glyn Weakley Interiors at Paces Ferry Plaza from 4-8 p.m.

A beautiful addition to any home in itself, the Rizzoli-published volume is also tactical. In it, the Atlanta based designer ( outlines her principles of design for readers to apply to their own projects.

Westbrook-designed homes embodying those principles have been featured in Architectural Digest, Garden & Gun and Traditional Home, among many others national magazines.

In this edition of “Interior Monologues,” the designer discusses her inspiration behind “Gracious Rooms,” books-as-décor, and the question she receives most often at book signings.


Q: The beautiful Rizzoli-published “Gracious Rooms” is your first book. How did it come about?  

A: I had never thought about authoring a book about my work until I met Jill Cohen, book agent extraordinaire. A PR agent in New York recommended that I speak to Jill about a book.  Once Jill and I spoke about my work, the idea of a design book did not seem so farfetched.  She was quite encouraging and her encouragement gave me the confidence to move forward.


Q: With so many design projects it can’t be easy to find time to write. What was your creation process with your co-author?

A: Juggling the production of the book with my design projects was one of the most difficult aspects of the creation process.  Heather MacIsaac is a gifted writer and I am not.  Thankfully, she is a quick study and pegged what I wanted to convey in the book early in the process.  We talked for many hours about many different subjects, not just design.  We talked on the phone and in person with lots of email communications as well.  I knew after reading reviews of other books and talking to Jill Cohen and Kathleen Jayes at Rizzoli, that I wanted the work to have principles of design outlined for anyone to apply to their own design project. I hear over and over again at book signings that a purchaser or friend or daughter is renovating/ building/ or redecorating a house/ a baby’s room, etc. and they are purchasing the book to get some ideas.  I love that!


Q: You’ve been on a book tour for several months for “Gracious Rooms.” What is the question you are asked most often? What do audiences seem hungry to know?

A: One question that I am asked regularly is what I see next in design.  That is a tough question.  I personally love so many styles and periods of design that it is hard for me to say this is “in” and this is “out”.   I say anything goes, just so it is beautiful to you!


Q: Tell us about your beautiful online magazine WORKBOOK. What inspired you to create it?

A: After the 2013 Design Leadership Summit, which highlighted the meaningful role of technology in our world, I decided I needed to utilize the Internet in a way that would highlight my point of view in design.  There are so many great blogs already, I did not want to create another. A mini magazine came to mind.  I went forward researching and hiring the best folks I could to assist me in forming WORKBOOK.


Q: You are clearly a book lover yourself and have discussed owning thousands of design books. What’s the best way to display books in a home?

A: Our last WORKBOOK just addressed books and different ways to display them.  A very full bookshelf with books squished together filling each shelf is a warm backdrop in any space.  Billy Baldwin even combined a Library and Dining Room.  He liked the idea of dining amongst the books. How charming is that?  Books are great stacked almost anywhere – tables, chest of drawers, etc.

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