Thursday, November 5, 2009

Inspired by ... Barclay Butera

My autographed copy.
As promised, I wanted to share with you some designer words of wisdom from the Barclay Butera lecture last Tuesday (October 27th) at the Boston Design Center. First, I have to say, Barclay was California-handsome dressed in a gorgeous cinnamon-orange blazer that contrasted beautifully with his signature colors of navy blue and crisp white (which when he stood in front of the image below during his slide show, it was a perfect example of the value of adding that punch of contrasting color.)

Kravet fabrics as shown in Living in Style by Barclay Butera

A photo-op at the Kravet showroom.

Besides being blessed with boyish good looks, Barclay came across as being very gracious and soulful. His presentation on “Decorating in a New Economy” actually addressed concerns that many of us have today ... how to stretch decorating dollars in a respectful way and still achieve satisfying results that make both designer and client happy. While his lecture was geared toward the design professional, the same strategies can be applied by those who decorate their own homes.
Come home with me ... I am loving
“Poppy” from the Hearst Castle Collection

designed by Barclay Butera.

One of my favorite tips was Butera’s recommendation to change a look of a room by simply adding new accent pillows. I don’t know how many times I have had to explain to my husband why I love pillows so much, but Barclay totally gets it! A dramatic fabric on even one new pillow can completely change the look and feel of a space. I always say a great pillow is like affordable art that is available to most, regardless of budget commitments.

“Monkey in Tree from my collection of
designed accent pillows,
now available
at Beth Hylan Design Studio.

One comment in particular that Butera made struck a chord with me ... on those mornings that you may not be feeling great, maybe work is slow or you are just having an off day, sit down and take out some nice stationery and write a note to someone to thank them for something that they have done for you. I thought this approach of practicing gratitude says a lot about who Barclay is and how he tries to live his life. No matter what is going on around us, there is always something to be grateful for.

A Butera-designed room from Living in Style,
actual photo by Andrew Abrecht Photography

After viewing the many photos of Barclay’s work in both his presentation and his book (he stated that he has many more in his personal archives ... always take pictures of your work!) I would have to say his style is warm, textural, and classically bold with grand gestures in both scale and pattern. I was so inspired by his love of combining prints (as he mentioned, he is known for his ability to “layer” patterns) that a couple of days later I left the house carrying my favorite zebra print handbag while wearing a leopard print scarf (I never would have mixed animals before, but Barclay does it so well that I had to try!)

Vintage scarf passed down to me that used to
be worn by my very stylish grandmother
(more on her in a later post).

In case you want to achieve the Barclay Butera look for yourself, here are a few more designer tips ...

Don’t be shy ... dining room by Barclay Butera
taken from his book Living in Style
photographed by Miguel Flores-Vianna

• Tip #1 ... pick up a copy of his book. I felt like I was holding my breath turning the pages. The rooms are that beautiful.

• Don’t be afraid to
mix patterns, styles, periods or places: Shells can reside in a room even with animal prints. As Barclay defines it, it is okay to combine Beach with Mountain or Desert with Town & Country.

Don’t overdo it with a theme (just because you have animal prints or say antler chandeliers in the room, doesn’t mean you have to have signs like “Deer Crossing” hanging on the wall).
Textures are the key to hard to resist interiors (leathers, furs, stone, natural wood, etc.)

Large orchid seen in one of the BDC showrooms.

• A
large orchid plant is one of Barclay’s all time favorite natural accent pieces (I counted about 36 of them in his book.)
My decorate-like-a-pro tip: pick up one or two orchid plants at your local Home Depot and combine them in one big ceramic pot. Add some moss from your backyard if you are lucky enough to have some and voila – instant style!

• When at all possible, put a
great lighting fixture in your space. It will get noticed.

• Tall
white pillar candles and glass hurricanes blend with any decorating style.

A favorite of mine as well.

And most importantly, rooms are meant to be lived in ... enjoy yours!

Here are a couple more fabulous patterns that we saw at the BDC after we were “Butera-inspired” ...

Me running into an old friend ...
Sebastian Carpenter Design lamp
at Blanche P. Field showroom
at the Boston Design Center.

My friend Linda in one of her favorite showrooms.

I am planning on recreating this stylish look for a piece that I will put in the Studio. Look for it soon! And when you get a chance, visit Barclay’s blog to read more posts on how he lives with style.


  1. I have never heard of him before but his designs are awesome. I love the fabrics. It's so funny you posted this because I just posted about meeting Tim Gunn last night at a lecture he was doing. It's great that these guys can come and teach us how to design on a budget :)

  2. I am a big fan of Tim Gunn, too. He seems very genuine. I loved reading your post on meeting him, and think your choice of outfit was very appropriate! Can't wait to see what happens tonight on Project Runway : )

  3. I just recently discovered him and when I googled him your blog came up! Great post, thanks!!!! Pinky


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