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Monday, December 28, 2009

CharityWorks' Green Designer Show House ~ Barry Dixon

Finally! I have been sitting on this story as the Washington Post needed to publish theirs first. Remember I told you I met with a tall, handsome man the other day?? Well, it was the incomparable Barry Dixon. I posted about the CharityWorks' Green Show House before. Click here to get the info on attending. I also told you I would cover it in October. First, if you have an opportunity to go, DO! It is incredible and a wonderful example of just how beautiful green design can be. It is so incredible and important that I will be devoting my blog to it this week. (This post is a reprint ~ the Show House is no longer open).

I have one of those MP3 gadgets. I use it for transcriptions of the interviews I conduct. However, for this post, I have three audios you can download to hear Barry and my actual conversation. After you download the files, open them with Windows Media Player. You’ll hear Barry speak about all the green factors that are in the house, the resources, the camaraderie among the designers, and hear him working in the room with craftsmen as they arrive, speaking with his photographer, hear Barry talk about his own farm and the materials in the room that came directly from there, his design philosophy, and all about his magnificent room as we run around it, and his lines of furnishings ~ I was thrilled he provided so much detail. A quote I love is “tortured into place.” This is Barry’s thought about over-designing ~ aka matching so perfectly it abates the interest or sucking the 'living in' aspect right out of the space.

Paula Grace and Barry Dixon Interview ~ Part 1
Paula Grace and Barry Dixon Interview ~ Part 2
Paula Grace and Barry Dixon Interview ~ Part 3

I was treated to a sneak peek. Barry invited me to come the day he was having a in his room. That was fun to watch. I’m going to have to tell Bob, my photographer, that Barry treats his shoots like I do. Everything may be completed however, to the camera’s eye, things may need to be adjusted. It was great fun to watch Barry tweak and look through the lens to see if the shot was to his satisfaction.

In the midst of this, Barry and I sat down for a conversation about the house. I am not a reporter but I play one on my blog. The ‘problem’ is while sitting in Barry’s room, after a while when I was feeling more comfortable, it was difficult for me to focus on the interview. Why? Because the room literally started speaking to me. No, I wasn’t hearing voices. Not that kind of speaking to. You all know my love and sensitivity to music ~ harmony and rhythm play large roles in my designs. I was sitting there looking at Barry when out of the corners of my eyes, I kept seeing connections in the room that began a beautiful song in my head. I started sneaking peaks when Barry would look away for a moment to collect his thoughts and then it just took me over. I think in Barry’s mid-sentence I said, “This room has wonderful rhythm.” Barry’s eyes widened and he said, “Thank you!” He proceeded to get up and start showing me the connections in the room ~ some I had already seen, some I had not. It was exhilarating. There we were running around the room gleefully looking at all the elements. Honestly, it was like two kids in a candy store. And I thought, ‘I like this guy.’ Why? Because he made me feel welcomed to understand his design (versus keeping it a secret) and comfortable to be myself. In fact he mirrored what I was excited about. He’s a regular guy ~ albeit with incredible talent and clients by the score ~ but a regular guy just like I’m a regular gal that gets excited about such things as rhythm. He told me that some of his clients with kids play games for years connecting all the dots in his designs. How wonderful is that? How thoughtful! When you go to the show house and you are in Barry’s room, look for them. If you do not hear a symphony in your head ~ call me ~ I’ll take you through and play the music. If you are unable to go, I tried to capture much of what I was seeing in the photos, the way I was seeing it but it is difficult to recreate. I will try.

Barry was a gracious host. He’s a gracious man. He’s an intelligent man. He’s a kind man. I guess you’d say I’m a fan. Hmmmm…. I wonder if he has a fan page on Facebook. Sign me up!

Most of the furniture in the room are from Barry's own lines. The beautiful mirror that you see is a repurpose ~ an old factory window. The metal mullions of the mirror and the mechanism that connects the bolsters to the daybed are part of a larger metal/metallic rhythm in the room. Barry also connected his room to nature ~ bringing in the elements in the scenic backyard.
The beautiful chandeliers Barry brought home with him from New Zealand in his suitcase ~ they completely fold up. The fabric choice for the pillows mirror the water waves in the backyard pool.
There is also a theme of circles and geometric shapes in the room. You see it in the ottoman, the art behind the chair, the sculpture on the mantel, and in the chair's jewelry (rings on the arms) which doubles as a place to hang one's glasses. The nail head on the ottoman is part of the metal rhythm. The rug mirrors the texture of the grass outside.
Intimate seating areas in quite a large room.
The banquette and a metal screen behind it serve as a visual divider between the living area and kitchen. The chairs are another repurpose. Barry did not change anything on the the chairs ~ they are exactly as he obtained them. The worn leather and wood finish are harmonious as they engage with the hues in the room and add interest with their diverse period influence.
The artwork continues to bridge the outside with the inside as the pictorial themes connect to what is immediately seen through the windows. What a fabulous place to display the art!
I love theses chandeliers. They are wonderfully graphic.
The kitchen was done be SieMatic. Exquisite. The counters are literally a material that is made from trash and wears better than granite. The greenery is from Barry's farm ~ they trimmed the trees.

What an amazing space. I cannot wait to go back. I know I will see more connections. It's the room that keeps on giving.....

A funny tidbit ~ my camera battery died at the end. I had not yet taken a photo with Barry ~ UGH! ‘I can use my phone,’ I thought, ‘but who will take the picture?’ Guess who took the picture of Barry and me with my cell phone? The professional photographer shooting Barry’s room ~ how funny it that??

You may remember this dress from my picture with Barclay. It was the same day. What a day!

I so enjoyed my afternoon with Barry.

Click here to see the other lovely rooms in the Show House….


  1. Your best yet! Absolutely a great article and interview!! Thanks so much for giving us a sneek peak and sharing your wonderful insights. Love the pics and a real pleasure to read!

  2. Barry, is a kind man. No Divo there. I can't wait to see the house in person next week.

  3. Paula that was wonderful! Great job. I could hear your joy and enthusiasm in what you wrote. I did take the time to listen to the interview as well. I would love to see the two of you partner together on a project! That would be WOW! Just so inspiring listening to the two of you communicate and bounce back and worth with so much knowledge and energy. Thanks for sharing that gift with us this morning. I can't wait to see the house now.

  4. Thank you so much. I really enjoyed my time with Barry ~ it was a lot of fun!

  5. This is a fabulous interview!!! I always enjoy reading your thoughts behind what I'm seeing, Paula Grace. I enjoyed this post so much so, I looked over the images 3 times over :)


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