A barometer is a scientific instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure, but to Patricia McLean, founder of Patricia McLean Interiors, barometers are much more than a weather forecasting tool. Patricia calls these unique antiques “pure gold in the design world.” She loves the history and glamour they add to a space and has made the barometer a staple in her design arsenal.
Enjoy this exclusive Q&A session with Patricia herself, where she shares all her best insights on mastering the use of barometers in an array of styles and sizes.
Southern Home (SH): What style of barometer do you gravitate toward? English inlaid wood banjo style or Continental gilt pieces?
Patricia McLean (PM): I grew up touring English country houses and was greatly inclined to English design when I established my business in the 1980s. I was always familiar with the English wooden banjo style. They are beautiful and have a special quality about them that is a wonderful addition for hallways and libraries.
As my design style developed, my favorite became the French and Swedish gilt barometers. I love the sparkle they add to a space!
SH: When do you use barometers in interiors versus art?
PM: To me they serve as art on their own or as the centerpiece in a grouping of paintings. I also use them singularly over a mantel or to anchor a small space. They also make great bookends to decorate each end of a wall.
SH: What do you look for in barometers?
PM: I love round, octagonal, and combinations of shapes. I always look for the theme included in the top decoration. Lovebirds, world globes, and ribbons are all adornments found in some favorites I have placed.
SH: Do you have a favorite barometer in your own house or a client’s?
PM: I must say one of my favorite barometers was used on a small wall at one end of a showhouse living room. It was an Italian stick barometer. It adorns the wall at the top of a staircase in my clients’ home and becomes the focal point as you ascend. It may well be my favorite barometer.