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Ginger Barber is particularly passionate about two things: interior design and horses.

Thirty-five years ago, interior designer Ginger Barber had interviews in Texas and California. Once she came to Houston, she knew she was home.

The city offered a similar climate to Barber’s native Cocoa Beach, plus an awful lot of friendly people, many of whom would become clients over the next three decades. Today, Ginger Barber Interior Design is a fixture in Houstonians’ homes—and second homes—from River Oaks estates to Gulf Coast beach houses.

Barber’s chief guiding design principle is simplicity, and her timeless interiors have earned her a high-profile following–she counts notable realtors and investors among her clientele. 

A minimalist at heart, Barber won’t soon be found rushing to embrace hunter green or ultra violet for the sake of staying “on trend.” Rather, she eschews fads for traditional aesthetics bound by neutrals and rich textures. Every room she designs is grounded—literally—in a rug, the foundation upon which she builds each concept. 

It’s a perhaps unexpected topic that most stirs Barber’s soul, though: horses. When she needs to unwind, she heads to the barn. Plus, she serves as vice president on the board of Habitat for Horses, a non-profit she discovered seven years ago after finding a suffering, abandoned horse tied to a post in Galveston while out birding with a friend.

Eventually, Barber’s efforts led to the safe return of that horse–Harley–to his original owner who had no idea the abuse he’d endured. Harley is thriving today, and for her part, Barber remained committed to Habitat for Horses, which will soon move to a 416-acre property near Hitchcock. The intake barn, Barber reports, is just down the road from Harley’s home. 

We caught up with Barber this week about her passion for equine rescue, her path to design, and her “less is more” approach.

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A Ginger Barber interior.

On why she became a designer:

“It’s just in my blood. My mother was a designer in Melbourne, Florida; my grandfather worked for a furniture company; my younger brother is an architectural engineer in Atlanta. It’s in our blood. I grew up doing weddings and flowers and Junior League … doing all that stuff with mother.”

On her aesthetic:

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“I think I’ve changed so much. I’ve always been pretty casual–I’m not a flash designer. I like substance and longevity in what I do. I like things to look good forever … the room should be good, always. I never ride a trend.”

On her favorite projects:

“There’s not a favorite—I have so many wonderful clients, they’ve become friends. Whether it’s a beach house, a ranch house, an office, a home, it’s all good. … I’m sort of a beach girl at heart; I love being near the ocean, so that probably speaks to me most of all. I love doing rustic ranches and all of that, too.”

On how her design has evolved:

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“As I get older … I’m moving to more of a minimal look. I’m still really big on neutrals and an emphasis on rugs and art. Texture is a big deal to me; rooms can become really flat and boring if they don’t have depth. … Less is more for me. There’s so much going in the magazines, it’s just awful. I worry about the public looking at this going, “oh, this is okay.” It’s like a bad outfit: Take half that stuff off.”

On Habitat for Horses:

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“It kind of changed my life … There’s such a problem with the way people treat animals and the way they treat horses. I’m very involved with day-to-day stuff … We’ve moved about 80 horses [to the new property] in the last few weeks, and they’re all just in heaven. We’ve been putting in fencing and doing real hands-on work … we live on donations.”

On achieving work-life balance:

“Time management is really critical, to look ahead and think, “What does my week hold?” I can’t wait for Friday at 3:00 no matter what I’m working on, because I’m still thinking about the job or trying to solve a problem or researching on my iPad at night. … I love what I do so much that it’s not work at all, it’s just something I love.”

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