Meet a Mom: Jeanne Barber of Camden Grace - Greenwich Moms

Tonight’s Meet a Mom, Jeanne Barber, is a Mom of 2 and the founder of Camden Grace Interiors!

She spent years practicing at one of the nation’s largest employment law firms before deciding to follow her true passion of design. Her daughter was born prematurely which was a defining moment and led to her change in paths.

Keep reading as Jeanne shares with us how to find the right designer, how to balance motherhood and running a business, and some of her favorite before and after projects.

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself personally? Names/ages of kids, etc.? 

Even though I grew up outside Boston, I’ve lived in Connecticut for more than half my life now.  I’m a proud Trinity alum and UCONN law grad.  I met my husband, Drew, in college and even though everyone warned me not to date a hockey goalie (apparently they’re crazy), I didn’t listen and instead married one.  Little did I realize I was signing up for a lifetime of hockey as my son, Camden (10), and daughter, Coco Grace (8) now play as well. 

Please tell us about Camden Grace and what separates it from other design firms out there?  

1) We get it.  6 out of 7 of the women on our team are moms of children ages 6 months to 10 years.  So we understand how to design around the flow of life: mudroom drop zones; built-in storage for crafts; cool performance fabrics; creative ways to display kids’ art (magnetic wallpaper ranks high).  

2) We’re dynamic, not formulaic.  We bring the same passion and vigor to every project, but no two designs are  alike.  We really pride ourselves on creating spaces – whether traditional or midcentury or anything in between – that are unique and reflect each client’s personality and vibe.

What is your background and how did you decide to start Camden Grace?

My first career was as an employment lawyer.  I probably would have followed along that “safe” path were it not for a life changing event – my daughter was born very prematurely – causing me to realize life is fragile and giving me the guts to follow my passion of design.  

What are some design trends you’re loving? 

Truthfully, if something is trendy I run for the hills because it means it will be dated in 5 years (hello, black windows).  I’m happy vendors are transitioning away from the sterile white/beige look; I’m seeing A LOT more florals and patterns and layering and mixing forms and styles.  Mixing eras and patterns leads to a home that looks more “collected” over time and one that weathers trends much better. 

What is your absolute favorite design tip or trick when working with families? 

70% cashmere, 30% polyester.   When you have kids, 70% of your house can still be cashmere – you don’t have to sacrifice quality and luxury everywhere just because you have children.  But then there is the other 30% of your house where polyester makes sense . . . because life happens.  No one needs Spaghettios falling on a silk rug.  

 

What are some of your favorite projects? We love a before and after! 

Any advice for Moms looking for the right designer? What should they be considering? 

In addition to liking their portfolio, ask yourself two questions: 1) Would you want to get a drink with them? 2) Would you trust them enough to leave your children home with them?   Designing a home is an intimate process that occurs over several months (or years) – a need good rapport and mutual trust leads to magical designs. 

How do you find a balance with motherhood and running a business? Any tips for the rest of the Moms out there?  

Keep your eye on the long game.   Even now, on any given day, I feel like either my kids or my work got shortchanged.  Now I don’t look at the balance so myopically – instead, at the end of the year I ask myself, “How did I do?”  By looking at 365 days all together, usually I feel that I was able to give my kids – and my clients – my all (just not all on the same day). 

What do you like to do to relax/have fun?

I love traveling and antiquing, usually with a glass of wine or cup of coffee in hand.  Brimfield is a local gem – I love discovering treasures others overlooked and finding inspiration in unique things.  And if you’re ever in Paris, you must visit the Clignancourt flea market – it is by far one of my favorite places in the world. 

Anything else you’d like to share? 

Decorating a house should be fun – be open to trying new things, follow your gut, and go for it – it will be worth it.

We love to support local businesses. What are your fave places when you are in Greenwich to:

Workout: Pure Barre
Go out for ice cream: Gelato & Cioccolato
Go out to lunch: Harvest Wine Bar
Get your hair done: La Brosse Dry Bar (I have thick curly hair)
Get your nails done:  Top Nails
Have fun as a family: Cisco Brewers (and outdoor games)

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