Barbara Westbrook
Books at Home

Barbara Westbrook for Workbook


"Ferdinand the Bull." I loved that book. The proper title for this children’s book is “The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf. As we’ve worked on this, our summer issue, we have talked a great deal about books. Books of all types. For some reason I’ve been reminiscing about my favorite childhood books. And Ferdinand, the flower loving bull, keeps coming to mind.

Who knew??  If someone had told me 5 years ago that I would have authored a Rizzoli design book, I would have thought to myself, “You are crazy. That will never happen.” Well in March of this year, after a three-year production process, Rizzoli released my first book, “Gracious Rooms." (Thank you, Jill Cohen!) I may have “authored” the book, but Heather MacIsaac wrote it. My mother asked me recently how much of the book I wrote because it sounded just like me. She could hear me talking in those pages. I told her I wrote the acknowledgement all by myself - that’s it. I may have read the words of that book more than any other - probably 8 or 9 times - making suggestions here and there, correcting a misperception or two, and reviewing the edits by a few different Rizzoli proof readers, but the charming warm writing style is Heather’s.  Yes, Heather, a tall striking New Yorker, managed to capture the voice of this life long Southerner. We spent an insane number of hours sharing our life stories, our pasts and our families, and our love of design. We talked endlessly, it seemed, about the format of the book and how each chapter should be approached. I knew I wanted two things in this book - beautiful photos and useful information. In the process, I came to admire and value a third thing - the craft of writing. The importance of the words.

My hope is that in this issue of WORKBOOK, you will enjoy not only the gorgeous photos, but the writing as well. Our FEATURE: LIVING WITH BOOKS answers the question,” What should I do with all my books?!” I have a wide range of books in my own home from my first Bible, King James version, of course, with my name embossed in gold on the cover to a collection of overscaled vellum covered books for decoration only. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of design, garden, and architecture books are stacked on my side tables and shelves, in cabinets, and on bench tops. To me a home without books feels cold and impersonal. WORKTABLE highlights the importance of books in the lives of a very talented author, Susan Rebecca White, another author who is first and foremost a prominent chef, Steven Satterfield, and the always fascinating, Katie Barringer who is opening her own design book store in Atlanta in the coming months. And finally, INSPIRED BY highlights the elegant outdoor furniture of Annie and Will Massie, the sister - brother team behind McKinnon and Harris. We all grew up in the same small Virginia town together. You cannot hear either of their soft Southern voices without sensing the gentility and kindness for which they are known. To me, their designs hit the absolutely perfect mix of beauty, quality, and durability. I am so proud of them and what they have accomplished!

~ Barbara


In This Edition

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