Designer Barbara Gilbert Uses Psychology of Color to Create Breathtaking Spaces

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Barbara Gilbert fairview living-room-interior
A cabana living room in Fairview designed by Dallas interior designer Barbara Gilbert. All photos: Michael Hunter Photography

Dallas interior designer Barbara Gilbert is an expert in the psychology of color, creating carefully curated spaces that not only work visually, but positively impact function and use.

Her attention to detail means you’ll find every inch accounted for in her designs in ways that often surprise and delight. One exampleL LED toe kicks in the kitchen, bringing illumination to the floor.

Barbara Gilbert
Barbara Gilbert

“Details are what make a room beautiful—it’s the mixing of patterns, textures, and colors and placing them strategically in a room,” Gilbert said. “We will mix two patterns on a chair and add contrast welt for variation. We make sure that the height of an end table is the right size for the furniture it sits next to. We are very particular about scale, so when we source artwork we make sure it’s the perfect size for the wall it adorns.”

We mentioned Gilbert on CandysDirt in 5 Dallas Interior Designers to Watch in 2015 this January. We noted her work on an eco-friendly home in Highland Village that earned her two 2014 ASID Legacy of Design awards, as well as the Dallas Builders Association ARC Award for the kitchen. She’s a Best of Houzz winner from 2012-2015. Additionally, Gilbert just won five 2015 ASID Legacy of Design awards, including first place for transitional living areas and first place for a transitional singular space.

Gilbert and her team at Barbara Gilbert Interiors specialize in high-performance, sustainable new construction and full service luxury residential interior design. It’s work she loves and in which she excels.

“We interpret our clients’ needs and dreams and use all of the principles of design to create their spaces,” she said. “Excellence is the standard for us and we don’t quit until we think it’s perfect! Thinking outside of the box is normal we love challenges.”

The dining room of Barbara Gilbert's eco-home design in Dallas
The dining room of Barbara Gilbert’s award-winning Village Park Eco Home design home in Highland Village.
Dining room detail
In the dining room, Gilbert selected a wall color, draperies, and rug that were neutral because of the pops of teal in the furniture, art, and ceiling.
An airy and light feeling inhabits this kitchen from the white walls and white cabinets to the bamboo countertops, contemporary glass pendant lighting, and glass subway tile backsplash.
Living room
The pattern on the living room slipper chairs accentuates the hues in the throw pillows, while still standing on its own.
Master bedroom
In the master bedroom, tranquility is the key feeling. The cool paint colors along with the marble bathroom and neutral furniture are spa-like, and the abstract chocolate-and-blue rug is the key element that brings all of the components together.

Gilbert came to interior design circuitously, spending 22 years as an insurance agent first. That background gives her an edge: “I know how to run a business and I’m very customer service oriented,” she said.

Even during her time in the insurance industry, she always had creative hobbies, like knitting, China painting, and ceramics. Basically anything that had to do with color, she says.

“I love color and get inspired by nature, architecture, and colorful patterns,” she said. “Last year, I was in Istanbul and couldn’t get over the amazing colors in the spice markets. I keep thinking that someday the right client will come along I will use those colors to create a palette for a beautiful room.”

The family room design of a Westlake home by Barbara Gilbert.
The family room design of a Westlake bachelor pad by Barbara Gilbert Interiors. By painting the cabinets, walls, and ceiling lighter, Gilbert created a neutral backdrop for the pops of color through out this open floorplan.
Barbara Gilbert westlake family-room
The fireplace was once completely tiled and the surround took away from the beautiful mosaic on the facade. Gilbert covered the checkered tile (so as to not disturb the mosaic) with a simple stone to allow the beauty of the mosaic to shine through.
Westlake kitchen
The kitchen once had dark wood stained cabinets, a busy tiled backsplash, and an outdated metal vent hood. Now, it’s vibrant with white simple shaker cabinets and glass uppers that allow for accent lighting.
By lightening the ceiling, walls, & cabinets, your eye is now drawn to the custom made moroccan ceiling panel.
By lightening the ceiling, walls, and cabinets, the eye is now drawn to the custom-made Moroccan ceiling panel.

Gilbert became a certified Dewey Color Specialist, meaning she understands how colors interact with one another, and how they affect people psychologically.

“The psychological aspect of color is very important and must be taken into consideration when choosing paint colors, because it not only affects the room but also the people that occupy it,” she said.

She tells a story of a recent client who homeschooled her ADHD child, and his study area was painted yellow, with a yellow-and-red painting.

“Those are not good choices for a studying area, because red raises you blood pressure and yellow will make you nervous,” she said. “We chose some soothing blues and greens and it helped him tremendously. The psychological aspect of color is important and has to be taken into consideration because it affects the room and the people that occupy it.”

Barbara Gilbert
For a Dallas highrise unit redesign, Gilbert chose a contemporary media console with a distressed silver finish and interlocking ring hardware, a piece that is both elegant and functional.
Barbara Gilbert highrise living-area
In the living area, a custom grey sectional, club chair, and coffee table/ottoman maximize seating and provide viewing of the television and warmth from the fireplace.
Barbara Gilbert highrise-sitting-area
Multiple seating groups were created to bring intimacy to the open floorplan and accommodate gatherings of people.

Gilbert’s Village Park Eco Home home garnered multiple industry accolades, and inspired her to become ReGreen certified. The net-zero home was built to showcase high-efficiency building at its finest, and Gilbert and her team selected the finishes and furnishings for the house, incorporating  design trends and using as many natural materials as possible.

“Most people don’t have any idea how toxic indoor air can be,” she said. “I think it’s our responsibility as interior designers to be educated in eco-friendly design and be a catalyst in creating healthy, eco-friendly homes for our clients who are building or remodeling.”

Inside the Highland Village house, you’ll find cork wall covering, 150-year-old wooden beams taken from old barns, bamboo countertops, a recycled wood dining table, and recycled glass countertops.

She also got to showcase her passion for good use of color.

One of my goals was to showcase how a house could have a multitude of colors and still be cohesive and flow,” she said. “We used 26 different paint colors in all. I didn’t want it to look like a model home with the same colors repeated in every room.”

This Highland Park Library won the 2014 Legacy of Design first-place award
This Highland Park Library won the 2014 Legacy of Design first-place award. Gilbert added custom bookshelves, lined with wallpaper to lighten them up. They were painted the same color as the ceiling to help create a cozy comfortable room.
Barbara Gilbert HP 2014 Legacy of Design 1st Place Award Traditional Living Space 2
Library detail

One of the details that Gilbert returns to on multiple projects is LED lighting, which she calls “the wave of the future.” They are both energy efficient and beautiful.

“At the start of every design build project we do, we choose where the LED lights will be installed so the house will be framed and wired properly,” she said. “We use small pin lights with motion sensors in halls, and LED lighting on ceiling beams. We also have custom frameless mirrors with LED light strips built in for master bathrooms, as they eliminate the need for light fixtures and have a cleaner look more contemporary look.”

Barbara Gilbert las-colinas-bedroom-interior
The master bedroom of a Las Colinas home designed by Gilbert. She dressed up the existing bed with custom bedding and added accents of yellow to add vibrancy to this relaxing, spa-like master suite.
In order to make a small bedroom window seem more substantial, Gilbert placed drapery panels on each side to cover the edges and give it the appearance of being larger.
In order to make a small bedroom window seem more substantial, Gilbert placed drapery panels on each side to cover the edges.
The sitting area of the master suite already had an abundance of natural sunlight from the windows, so Gilbert added custom stationary drapery panels, mostly neutral furniture pieces, and pops of yellow with the lamp and accessories.
The sitting area of the master suite already had an abundance of natural sunlight from the windows, so Gilbert added custom stationary drapery panels, mostly neutral furniture pieces, and pops of yellow with the lamp and accessories.

Barbara Gilbert Interiors is a highly sought after nationally known luxury Dallas interior design firm. Her current roster of clients includes an array of projects.

“We are currently working on a home in Highland Park and the homeowners love color,” she said. “The exterior of the home is Country French and we are decorating the interior using transitional furnishings. We have to respect the architecture of the home while incorporating a fresh updated look.”

She also stays busy in the design community. She is former president of the DFW chapter of the Interior Design Society, and currently serves on the National Board of the organization. Gilbert has also served as a presenter for the 2011 Dallas Home and Garden Show and a judge of the 2011 and 2012 Habitat for Humanity Design Duels.

In an alternate universe where she was not a designer, Gilbert says she would be working or volunteering for a charity that helps children have a better life.

“It saddens me to see the poverty that we have right here in Dallas,” she said. “My team and I are active in several charities and giving back is so very important to me.”



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Leah Shafer

Leah Shafer is a content and social media specialist, as well as a Dallas native, who lives in Richardson with her family. In her sixth-grade yearbook, Leah listed "interior designer" as her future profession. Now she writes about them, as well as all things real estate, for

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