Beholder of Beauty

In her debut book, An Eye for Beauty, designer Beth Webb explores the nuances of the five senses, and how her designed environments evoke them. We traveled to Costa Rica with Webb to experience and embrace these emotions

In the Costa Rican community of Las Catalinas, both sights and sounds guide your senses through this tropical sliver of paradise. Vibrant orange-red sunsets, coupled with the rhythmic beat of the surf, simultaneously induce both inner contemplation and outward bursts of joy.

From Charles and Ginny Brewer’s coastal-chic Las Catalinas perch, interior designer Beth Webb has granted Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles entrée into what feels like the community’s beating heart; its inner sanctum. Designed to be intimate enough for family, but expansive enough for the couple’s large gatherings, the house, says Webb, was designed to frame its surrounding ocean vistas; to open “itself to the environment in the most welcoming way.”

From the main floor’s ocean-facing loggia, open-air breezes balance out Costa Rica’s heat and humidity. From here, Webb says, “scents, sights and sounds all remind us that nature is our great sensualist.”

Typically an outdoor living room, Webb has decided to transform this airy loggia into an intimate space in which to dine al fresco. Blooms for the centerpieces were foraged on an afternoon walk; freshly fruited bananas have been employed as decoration; and ripe fruits have been juiced for cocktails and garnishes.

The sense of place Webb has created—for this gathering in particular, and with the Brewer residence as a whole—simply couldn’t feel more acute.

That precise provocation of sensuality, at every step of the design process, is what compelled Webb to compile her worldly portfolio into her freshly debuted book, An Eye for Beauty: Rooms that Speak to the Senses (Rizzoli, $50). Each chapter is devoted to one of the senses—how Webb’s environments elegantly evoke them; how they set the stage for living well—and all are lavishly illustrated through the designer’s lens of luxuriously light simplicity.

Driven early on in her career by the dictum that you learn by looking (the result of a Sotheby’s certificate program in London), Webb believes that the senses, informed by experience—seeing, touching, feeling—are absolutely essential to connoisseurship of any kind.

Her educated eye implores today’s digital-age readers to take that tactile philosophy to heart, whether it’s taking the time to explore the physical personality of an object (its patina, finish and surface), or embracing the fragrances or cacophony just outside our windows (in Costa Rica, it’s the surf, parakeets, and, sometimes, howler monkeys).

Webb’s inherent love of beauty—of elevating the everyday—is evident in each of the residences featured in An Eye for Beauty, from the nuanced, layered details of an artfully designed coffee table vignette, to the more atmospheric—a emotional feeling that may not necessarily be traceable.

As Veranda Editor-in-Chief Clinton Smith writes in the foreword: “The nuances are often indiscernable at first, but after a while, the little details that define her work shine through.”

Honing our own eyes for beauty may not come as quickly or as easily, but Webb’s poetic new tome certainly guides us with this inspiring, sensory-filled path.


Atlanta-based interior designer Beth Webb sheds light on her clean-lined, intuitive approach to decorating in her debut book, An Eye for Beauty: Rooms that Speak to the Senses (Rizzoli, $50), which hits bookstores this month. Featuring 175 color photographs of Webb’s clean-lined interiors, as well as a foreword by Veranda’s Clinton Smith, the tome illustrates Webb’s principles for cultivating a sense of well-being through design. A master of creating tailored and timeless homes, Webb explores the five senses as they apply to interior design, approaching each room as its own environment. 

Purchase here.