A Connecticut Home Gets a Clean and Modern Reboot

Traditional with a modern spin by Barsanti Desmone.
living room with modern furniture

Photography by George Ross

People constantly update their cars, their lifestyle, their wardrobe,” says designer Daniel Barsanti. “But it’s much harder with interiors—though it’s just as important!” When longtime clients of Barsanti and his design partner, Christopher Desmone, needed a refresh of their house in Westport, they eagerly jumped in to make it over. “The clients have multiple houses, but they are here most often. They’ve lived in it for about 10 years and it was time,” says Barsanti. “It was done very traditionally, and the colors did not feel current or match their lifestyle.”

The designers wanted the house to truly reflect the way the clients live—they love to cook and entertain, plus the interior architecture wasn’t up to snuff with the outside. They started by ripping up the entry hall, kitchen and mudroom. The limestone floors were replaced with red oak that was stripped to a natural matte finish. “We wanted the natural finishes to speak for themselves, but we also wanted to add the luxe factor,” notes Desmone. The color palette went from greens, beiges and gold to a softer, more modern one with Benjamin Moore Classic Gray on the trim and most walls, plus lots of textured wall treatments. Outdated recessed cans were replaced with more streamlined LED square recessed lighting.

foyer with mirror and center table

Photography by George Ross

In the entry, the clunky balustrade was replaced with more simple iron balusters. An oversized decorative chandelier was removed—“the staircase was enough of a visual statement”—so the view to the back is visible once inside the house. The kitchen’s perimeter cabinetry remained, but the old-fashioned, two-tiered island was replaced with a custom one-level walnut piece. Instead of typical pendants, the designers mounted a pair of Roman and Williams metal shades close to the ceiling. “I like minimizing recessed lighting and adding pieces that aren’t anticipated,” Barsanti says. “Pendants make sense, but these keep the island open and don’t get in the way of sight lines.”

colorful modern dining room with round table

Photography by George Ross

A toile wallpaper in the dining room almost survived, but when the new, clean palette of the rest of the house came into play, it was replaced with a textured Phillip Jeffries wallcovering. The curtains are in a relaxed de Le Cuona textile with a raw selvedge edge—a modern take on trim. And the table was the clients’ existing one that the designers stripped down and bleached. “It is decorated, but not overdone,” says Barsanti. “It’s our job to interpret lifestyles—not just create a vignette that looks good on Pinterest or Instagram.”

side table with modern and abstract details

Photography by George Ross

The living room’s cool hues and white Roman plaster walls were inspired by the client. “She is a gorgeous blond with blue eyes and looks fantastic in light blues and light tones,” says Barsanti. “We didn’t want this room to have an overly New England vibe. It has phenomenal art and it’s a great space to be in. It’s just pretty.” A pair of ornate chairs were originally covered in a rich fabric and sat in the foyer. “We did them in a simple wax linen and now they look like sculptures,” says Desmone. A screen covered in a Fortuny fabric adds height and a sense of depth to the space.

“So many things go into a room to make it feel wonderful,” notes Desmone. “You have to consider where you can put drinks, how things affect the sound inside the room, the way things feel. Restraint is so important and the hardest part of design is knowing what to take away.”

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the entire project though, was the unheard of—unless you watch too much HGTV— time frame in which it was completed. “We started the first week of January and were done by St. Patrick’s Day,” Barsanti notes. “The client gives us unfettered trust and the ability to make moves and decisions. I love making people feel good and keeping my word.”

The print version of this article appeared with the headline: Refresher Course.