About Barbara Ballinger



After earning her undergraduate and graduate degrees in art history and studio art, Barbara started her professional journalism career at the Special publications magazines of Condé Nast, known as the House & Garden Guides, under industry leader, Louis O. Gropp. She became known for her creativity in developing crafts stories, from artists in Santa Fe, NM, and Oaxaca, Mexico, and wrote her first book, which showed how the bold graphics images of Amish quilts could be transformed into tactile needlepoint designs, Needlepoint Designs from Amish Quilts (Scribner’s, 1977). She also developed craft projects that readers could order. Barbara started work on her MBA at New York University, and when she relocated to St. Louis, continued that degree at Washington University, while writing for The Post-Dispatch daily newspaper. She wrote about business topics and design, particularly retail and family firms. She co-wrote her first family business book as a result of her family business knowledge, Corporate Bloodlines: The Future of the Family Firm (Carol Publications, 1989).

With relocation to Chicago and two young daughters, she started a freelance writing business, which showed her entrepreneurial spirit. She covered the diverse topics of design, family and retail business, personal finance, law, travel, food and entertaining. She also interviewed a wide variety of celebrities for newspapers and magazines. Among her original ideas was an analysis of small, Chicago-area businesses in Crain’s Chicago Business, for which she had two area business leaders detail what the firms could do to improve sales, profits, visibility and morale.

With the rise of websites, she jumped in and wrote a course guide about homeownership, delivered on the Web, and an in-depth study of foreclosure dos and don’ts. She continued to write Web content  about architecture, design and real estate. As the magazines she develops for one New York publisher have flourished, at a time when many publications have faltered, she kept being asked to add to her list. She developed content and wrote for three kitchen and bath magazines a year, two garden issues annually and one about decorating small homes and condominiums.

Her national feature on new, mixed-use, sustainable communities, such as Serenbe outside Atlanta, National Harbor in Washington, D.C., and Sustainable Fellwood in Savannah, was nominated for a prestigious  business award. She continues to write syndicated real-estate and design articles and blog content for many publications, including the Chicago Tribune newspaper, Buildium's Website, Hanley Woods' Multifamily Executive magazine, and the National Association of Realtors(R) Realtor magazine. Her first book for young children, co-authored with Margaret Crane, will be launched with timely subject matter of multiple generations learning to accept aging.

In the meantime, Barbara, Margaret and kitchen designer Jennifer Gilmer wrote The Kitchen Bible: Designing the perfect culinary space (Images Publishing, 2015), which is going into a second reprint, and recently Barbara and landscape designer Michael Glassman authored The Garden Bible: Designing your perfect outdoor space (Images Publishing, 2016). Barbara and Margaret's next book, Suddenly Single after 50: The Girlfriends' Guide to Navigating Loss, Restoring Hope, and Rebuilding Your Life, will be released this summer.