“There is nothing exciting about pure regurgitation,” he said, “but there is something exciting about breathing new life into a classic interior. It’s appropriate, it’s ever-evolving, and that’s Washington.”
Although his first book, “Barry Dixon Interiors” (2008), showcased his finished projects, this book begins at his drawing board. He recounts his influences for eight homes, including a beach house in Delaware and a 19th-century rowhouse on Capitol Hill: “Inspiration is everywhere,” he writes. “From the hayfields outside my window, to a trip to exotic Marrakesh, to a treasured cocoa tin from my childhood.”
Dixon was born in Memphis and grew up in exotic locales, including New Caledonia, South Africa and French Polynesia. He opened his own firm in the District in 1994 and now operates his 11-person staff out of Elway Hall, his 271-acre estate in Warrenton. Currently, he is juggling projects in Beijing, Moscow, Italy and South Beach.
His work has been featured in House Beautiful and Southern Accents, and on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and the HGTV cable network. His clients include Diane Sawyer and former Senate majority leader Bill Frist. Dixon was named 2010 Master of Design by Veranda magazine.
In recent years, he has branched out into product design. In addition to his upholstery, fabric and furniture lines, he’ll debut a holiday collection for Bergdorf Goodman this fall and 65-piece furnishings collection for Arteriors Home next year. He’s also flipping an old Warrenton church complex into a studio, warehouse and showroom, due to open in September.
We spoke to Dixon by phone about his new book and Washington style. Here is an edited excerpt.
What is the most important room to spend money on in a home?
Invest in the room you spend the most time in. Spend money on yourself! That’s a luxury we should all allow ourselves. Instead of focusing on a formal dining room, why not splurge in the breakfast nook or kitchen where you’ll be gathering regularly?
Remember, too, that the rooms you’re spending the most time in get the most wear and tear, so investing in quality items makes more sense. The less you use a room, the less you should spend on it.
What are the three biggest cliches you find in people’s homes?
Draperies that are swagged and jaboted, to start, and color schemes like Williamsburg blue, Hunter green, burgundy and gold. . . . These are stale and not very exciting anymore, I’m afraid. Also, overscaled upholstery pieces that look like leftovers from the 1980s. We need a cleaner, more tailored look.