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The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (Through My Living Room)

By 05/24/2016July 12th, 202036 Comments

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (My Living Room)

Styling & Photo by Maria Killam

I recently bought Barbara Barry’s book Around Beauty and became completely obsessed!



In the introduction, the author writes that after you read Barbara Barry’s book, you become even more aware of simply finding the beauty in every day, and that is exactly what happens when you read her book.

You suddenly find yourself dusting off your teacups (or buying some if you don’t have any).

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)

Barbara Barry Photography by David Meredith

I am also convinced that Barbara Barry was one of the originators of the overhead-shot,-tabletop-vignette that’s found all over Instagram. I’ve been a big fan of hers for years and she’s always created beautiful overhead-style vignettes (above) to show off her work.

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)

A recent vignette I styled for my Instagram

When I decorated my dining table outside for Mother Day brunch with Terreeia’s deconstructed nicoise salad, my guests walked into the backyard (where they knew lunch would be served) and found me standing on the dining chairs taking this photo (below):

It would NEVER have occurred to me to do that before Instagram.

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)


The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)

Pages from Barbara Barry’s book

It takes 59 pages before you even get to a project in Barbara’s book. All the images prior to that chapter are like this (above) with her musings on everything from white dishes to blank sheets of paper waiting for inspiration.


If you are a new designer with a small portfolio, take some of these kinds of photos to go with it. Even you have a big portfolio, gorgeous extremely close up photos of the rooms you are decorating look beautiful on a website and of course on Instagram.

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)

Photo and styling by Maria Killam

Barbara Barry has an overhead shot similar to this (above) in her book which you’ll have to buy in order to see (couldn’t find it on-line to show you) but that’s what inspired this photograph I took this weekend of masses of yellow roses from my backyard along with some pink peonies and roses from my sisters garden.

Notice the teacup (above)? It’s new 🙂 Barbara says if they’re mismatched, that’s even better.

I stopped in at Granny & Grumpa’s Antiques which is located close to where I live and walked out with 8 teacups and saucers as well as a treasure trove of brass. Candlesticks, an owl (here on my Instagram) and a pair of brass pheasants (keep reading you’ll see them shortly).

When my Mom came over Sunday evening and saw my attempts at cleaning it all, she laughed and said, “You’ll be doing that all night!”, she immediately found a natural recipe on the web  (of COURSE my Mother would find a natural solution) which is 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 tsp salt and add white flour until it becomes a paste. Brush it on, and 10 minutes later, wash it off! Brilliant.

What exactly does a girl do without her Mom? I’m so lucky that I don’t know what that’s like.

Now that I have some new brass pieces and a garden full of roses, as well as some new throw pillows I ordered from Blush Label when I was at High Point Market they gave me an excuse to create some new vignettes and tablescapes this weekend.

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)Other than the fact that there are small ants, earwigs and miniature bugs walking all over my kitchen eeeek, here’s another photo of them in my sink.

Can you spy the teacup?

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)

I moved the pink lady from my family room and installed her over my mantle for a change.

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram

Vignette on the left side of the sofa. With more of my brass finds this weekend!

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)

I love my new pillows from Blush Label they have some gorgeous colours!

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)

The black and white scribbly one reminds me of Kelly Wearstler’s new tile pattern from Ann Sacks. That’s as far as I’ll go with a trendy pattern, as many of you know, haha.

And my freshly polished brass pheasants found a home on my coffee table.

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)


The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)

Photos & Styling by Maria Killam

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)

I have three dining chairs with striped upholstered backs and three with polka dots. I could not decide on either so I mixed them. You never see them all at the same time anyway so the end result is they all look the same.

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)

Love my faux cantaloupes! As I’ve mentioned before, my nephews know when they see fruit at my house to ask decorator Auntie Maria, ‘Is this fake or is it real? ; ) ; )

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)

If a book jacket is not the right colour, the right one might be underneath it (above)!

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)

An overhead (Barbary Barry inspired) shot of some polished stones from a friend. I bought this gorgeous tray at Christmas time from a local potter.

I have only recently jumped on board the Instagram bandwagon when I finally came to the conclusion that ignoring it is like trying to ignore Pinterest for a designer (the best place to find my curated aesthetic).  I’m not an expert yet, but here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Being on Instagram gets more fun when you get more followers, so hang in there. It’s fun to wake up in the morning and be in Venice where my friend @lholtinteriors was recently, in a showhouse interior in New Orleans by @lisamendedesign  or just get a giggle from @nataliereddell. Or check in with my client Crystal Hassel at her yoga studio @yogastudiob 

If you’re a designer, don’t post photos of your clients demolition, that’s a lesson on your blog, NOT something that should be seen in your feed or forever on your wall. And also, keep your lunch pics on Facebook, they aren’t usually attractive unless you are a food stylist.

Pay attention to how your wall looks (below).

Do you want 756,000 followers like one of my favourite fashion bloggers @rachparcell at Pink Peonies? Keep it beautiful, light and fresh looking and try to coordinate the colours that show up all together.

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)

And here’s my Instagram, see my lowly number! I have a ways to go to hit 756,000 🙂 🙂 so please go here and follow me! 

The Barbara Barry Guide to Instagram (New Pics of My House)

When I travel to lead my Specify Colour with Confidence™ events, I post my trips and adventures on Instagram so follow me here.

Are you following me yet, haha? Go here. Actually I’m not really kidding.

Have a wonderful week everyone!! xoxo

Related posts:

My Family Room Inside Style at Home (Including the Befores & Afters)

Maria’s Guide to Starting a Design Blog

Tour my House, Learn the 6 Best Ways to Transition Colour

8 pins


  • Lucy HAINES says:

    Maria, You are the most amazing person I know!! I love all of your posts and gain so much from them. This post is spectacular! You must stay up all night posting all the things you do. I first saw this post on my facebook this morning and shared it with everyone. Seeing all of the color just makes you want to smile. It makes you feel alive. Also I love peonies so I was happy to see yours. They don’t grow well in California altho I did buy a plant & put it in a pot. Hope it grows. I did however buy some at Trader Joes and I just love the fragrance!
    Keep up the good work!

  • Kay says:

    Maria, your house looks beautiful. So fresh and colorful.

    Beautiful teacups are a necessity if you give tea parties. I finally bought a collection of different cups united by their shadings of blue and turquoise and simply love them. When I set a (preferably low) table with them, people choose their places based on the cup they like best!

  • Joanna says:

    I absolutely love the bright colours in your house. I wish I was brave enough to copy. Gorgeous pictures, Maria.

  • KAJ says:

    Just don’t ever use or look for the hashtag eyecandy on instagram thinking you’ll find pretty houses!!! Lesson learned! And please, for all children’s sake, don’t add the word “porn” to the end of a word to make a “cute” hashtag (i.e., windowporn, houseporn, etc….). It sets such a bad example. Not that you do.

  • I always love seeing pictures of your house! Beautiful and colorful, which I love! I’m new to Instagram too, so I may have to check out Barbara’s book. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Claudia says:

    Those photos are so gorgeous, I’m dying of envy! Great job, seriously beautiful!

  • An entire room without any beige. Now there’s a gal I can relate to. ; )

  • sharon says:

    I’m not a big fan of most social media, but I love instagram! I guess I’m more a visual person. I have seen so much beauty on instagram that I truly find it inspirational. I don’t just follow designers, though I love them. I also follow world travellers, farmers, artists, weavers, food lovers and minimalists. So I disagree, absolutely go ahead and put that lunch pic on instagram, that’s what instagram is all about, photo sharing. And yes, I started following you last week!

  • Ophelia says:

    Where did you buy your end table next to the yellow sofa? Love it. I must say that you have
    done a bang up job of decorating your house.
    Love the yellow sofa and your color mixtures…
    not the ever trendy grey sofa and walls.
    You are an inspiration to branch out. What
    I appreciate the most about you is the idea
    of not having to rip everything out when you
    move in…go with the medium brown floors
    and the white which stand the test of time.
    This is truly what decorating is to me…
    classic, elegant and timeless…you are
    doing a great job blogging about what
    is timeless…and you are so young but
    have got it. We are neighbors and you
    should come visit…lovely Sequim…
    think about it…more later.
    Please do not forget the end table..
    I got off topic.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Ophelia, I picked it up from HomeSense a few years ago! Thanks for your sweet comment! Maria

  • Fran says:

    Love the way you’re working brass (especially those pheasants!) into your rooms!

  • Kim says:

    Beautiful photos! Maria, I love that you combined the different patterns on your chairs, I think you should let the mix show at the same time!

  • Beautiful flowers, Maria! Your passion for gardening really shows! Roses are my favourite, too, and I built our kitchen around mis-matched teacups given to me by my Father. He’d purchased them at a garage sale many years ago. I love them so much, they are showcased on a display shelf that is within easy reach for daily use. Enjoy all the sunshine in your lovely garden! Looking forward to seeing more of your pics!

  • Robin says:

    Your garden is outrageously spectacular!!!!! The photography is fantastic… it!
    Teacups are truly beautiful….each one has a particular personality all of its own.. I must confess it takes me forever to set my table when using mine…….. I end up playing with each little beauty.
    Packing sounds familiar……..I am pretty sure I’m going to see a very lovely yellow purse in a few days!!!!
    Safe travels!!!

  • jana phipps says:

    Maria this is a post of pure GORGEOUSNESS thanks for sharing your fresh colors and fresh tips too. Love!

  • Jen says:

    Maria, is that a quartz or real marble in your Instagram pic?

  • David Meredith is the photographer for the book Around Beauty. It is quite possible he is to be credited for creating the beauty that makes her book so spectacular. As a photographer it is our job to make our clients standout, in this case I think he deserves a mention at least.

    • Maria Killam says:

      Thanks Patricia, I totally agree, I posted a link to his amazing site! Thanks for your contribution to this post! Maria

  • Sheila says:

    Maria, as always, your posts make me smile. Love the photography and all the colour. Thank you for sharing Barbara Barry with us. I thought of your comment about needing to learn about art. I still haven’t found a good blog but I just found this book “A Guide to Art,” by Sandro Sproccati. Learning lots about art history. Have fun in TO and NJ!

  • KIm says:

    Beautiful Maria. You are an inspiration for all of us! I love your styled shots!

  • Angela Taylor says:

    These photo’s were a feast for the eyes! Thank you for being such an inspiration for us all. I know nothing about Instagram, and will probably not go there if it requires a Smart Phone. I can see the appeal though;)

  • Lisa Geddes says:

    Maria- gorgeous room. May I ask what the paint colour is on the walls?

  • Chris Wetzel says:

    Gorgeous!! What is the color of your living room walls?

  • mrsben says:

    Gorgeous images, Maria! With the exception of blogs, am not so much into social media but on occasion I do check out Instagram postings when a link is provided. That said; find it encouraging that you are into brass and tea cups as I am a big fan of both … ☺. -Brenda-
    P.S.: Have fun in T.O. and N.J. and don’t work too, too hard. (Hope you can get a bit of shopping in.)

  • Karolyn says:

    Your room makes me happy just looking at it. Can you tell me where you found the rug? Thank you

  • Amy says:

    I would like the yellow loveseat on your home page, I am trying to decorate my living room which revolves around a huge black grand piano. I cannot locate the love seat/ sofa. Thanks

  • Susan Telfer says:

    I’m so glad you have the picture and the pillows now to tie in your curtains now! Your living room is really lovely.

  • I love Barbara Barry’s book too, have read it several times. The amazing thing is how observant she is, and how calm her interiors look.

  • Your article is such an informative article. It is glad to read such those articles. Thanks for sharing.

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