Designs by Rhonda - Rhonda Barber
A love of fabrics provides the “backdrop” for Rhonda Barber’s current career as decorative painter and interior design specialist. Her business is located in Valley Forge, outside of Philadelphia.
How did she get started? “At the time, my husband traveled a lot and we were always moving, so I did a lot of cutesy things in my kids’ rooms,” Rhonda explained. She “got serious” and opened her home up to 8 other vendors and the neighborhood.
“I was new to the neighborhood and everyone asked about the painting, and I made an effort to pursue it,” he says. Her background in the textile business and her education at the Fashion Institute of Technology augmented her natural eye for design.
Rhonda says she currently does about 80% decorative finishes, and 20% interior design work. “Once you get the vision, it’s easier to pull off the look with one contractor,” Rhonda notes. She loves the design and the painting, and wouldn’t want to give either one up.
One of the more interesting facets of the Designs by Rhonda business is the makeup of her painting crew. “It varies by the job,” Rhonda says, “but I have had a 45 year old guy working alongside a 19 year old fine art major.”
Rhonda believes that student art majors are a find – “they love to play with color and texture, and their hours are more flexible.”
Not being a night person, Rhonda was challenged when she was hired to redo a family-owned pizzeria – then realized it would have to be done after 9 p.m. each night.
“We didn’t just do the painting -- we were hired to do everything – new window treatments, floor, tile, ceiling, fixtures and furniture.”
“The owner was so nice to us – he made us midnight meals; we worked till 4 or 5 in the morning,” Rhonda says.
Yet another challenge was a day spa where Designs by Rhonda did 10 rooms in 6 weeks – without electrical, water or air conditioning. Rhonda and her team accomplished a four seasons theme, including base painting, faux finishing and the individual design of each room.
“When designing the rooms, I put myself in the role of a spa client,” Rhonda says, “so there were designs on the ceiling as well as the walls.” For example, the Celestial Room has a solar system on the ceiling.
Last year, Rhonda called Kathy Carroll and booked a weekend-long private session she describes as a “career changing class.” “Kathy is so supportive and kind, a real mentor,” she notes.
Rhonda’s goal is to continue combining her love for fabrics and design into a full service design center, and to branch into another state.
“I love to see a room come together,” she says but notes, “I still have to learn to take time to relax.”
Contact Rhonda Barber at Designs by Rhonda at 610-505-3791.