Barry Wooley: Painter turned amazing Interior Designer
On this episode of The Lounge, Nick chats with Barry Wooley for the second time. Barry shares his journey into design, how he started his business, and how he keeps a family culture alive in the workplace.
Checking in with Barry
Barry is joining The Lounge from Louisville, KY. He and Nick met previously at High Point, where Barry works with Hillsdale Furniture to curate collections and provide input on finishes and hardware.
Barry loves Barcelona, Spain for its architecture, fashion, food, and mixture of old and new.
He also likes cats, Mac products, and convertibles. Barry loves to entertain in his dining room, but you will never catch a glimpse of his TV room, not even on Instagram.
How did Barry get into design?
Barry’s mom was creative and always decorated their homes, and his siblings are all in creative fields. Barry went to school for educational psychology then worked in the corporate world. He took on some design jobs on the side and was able to make the move to full-time by age 27.
Barry’s parents were painting contractors and decorators, which was an advantage for him. He evolved the paint company to paint and decor, and now into a design firm. Barry has no formal education in design, so he started by hiring people to work for the firm. He can’t draw but can come up with solutions. Barry disagrees with some things that are taught in design school but realizes the importance of differing opinions and teamwork.
What does the business look like today?
Today, Barry runs a full-service interior and exterior design firm specializing in residential, commercial, and hospitality projects based in Louisville, KY. He loves the personal connection of residential projects. Barry employs 20 full-time employees within two retail locations. His employees include designers, carpenters, painters, affiliates, etc. He wants to be able to do it all for his clients.
Barry talks about some of the coolest projects he has been involved with including: fantasy interiors in basements, amazing kitchens, upholstering walls, grass cloth on ceilings, and even a bourbon bar in a basement or speakeasy wine cellar with a separate entrance.
How to turn a painting company into a design firm?
Barry began helping his brother and his wife paint and decorate their home. He was able to personalize it without spending a ton of money. He ended up developing a questionnaire to help select colors and soon became known as ‘the guy with a painting company who was good at color selection.’ This was a natural evolution to move into decorating and selecting furniture. In 1998, Barry was invited to a home expo, then people started hiring him to design their homes. From there, Barry hired designers and developed a resource library and the rest is history.
Barry’s projects range from main homes in Kentucky and Indiana, winter homes in Florida, and summer homes on Lake Michigan. There are currently over 30 projects in the works. Barry believes that the busier you are the better you are. And if you love what you do, it all works out.
Barry feels strongly about creating a family-like atmosphere at his company. He is building a new design center with a family room, child care, and a space to eat lunch together. Everyone has their own office but is encouraged to work collaboratively.
On the marketing side, Barry says they do everything from editorial publications, charity events, local TV shows, radio ads, social media and more. He is currently working on a pilot for TV called Ministry of the Interior.
- Wrap Up
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