Designer Erick Espinoza’s Elaborately Designed Connecticut Home
A Danbury Victorian hosts a painterly canvas of colors and patterns.
Every day, interior designer Erick Espinoza occupies two distinct worlds at his home in Danbury. He characterizes his upstairs home office as “a white box,” while he refers to the downstairs living spaces of his late-Victorian home he shares with his partner, Justin Byous, as “a magical land of color.” Espinoza keeps his office monochromatic and free of excess décor because, as he says, “I need to work in a state uninfluenced by other things. But when the day is done and I head downstairs, I enter rooms packed with color and pattern, and I love that.”
As creative director for Anthony Baratta, LLC—a firm long known for fashioning interiors characterized by multiple hues, competing patterns and accessories of every period—Espinoza also understands the appeal of a more muted palette. “I can appreciate a very clean, neutral interior, and I understand the challenges of designing rooms with those constraints, but I want to be surrounded by colors where I live.”
After sharing an apartment in Queens for years, Espinoza and Byous were ready, as Espinoza explains, “to go to the next step, to hunker down and settle into a home where we could grow as a family.” The circa-1895, three-bedroom house they came upon near downtown Danbury was atypical of most residences of the era, in that it was “sober in design, without all the bells and whistles, turned moldings and carvings you find in places of that era,” says Espinoza, “which makes it more interesting and allowed me to make some very bold strokes.”
The couple brought along their existing furnishings, finding new ways to live with them in rooms that sometimes assume peculiar angles. Among Espinoza’s first tasks was to paint interior walls white, allowing him to indulge in color with the furnishings. “I come from a painting background,” he explains, “having attended art school before interior design school. Configuring interiors is a lot like doing a painting, with similar aspects of addressing proportion, color and pattern.” A look into their living room, for instance, revels a painterly palette of reds, greens, blues and yellows. And like all good works on canvas, Espinoza recognizes the importance, too, of establishing a focal point—in this case, a circular ottoman upholstered in a variety of patterns that harken to American folk art, a circus tent and even Tramp art.
Although visitors to the house become immediately acquainted with a novel design scheme, an Empire-style console table in the foyer essentially announces in one word what is soon to come. The piece is decoupaged with a white Italian paper printed with words, the first and most readable of which is “magnifico.” “What a positive statement to read when you first walk in,” says Espinoza, “the idea that everything’s going to be magnificent. And it is!” Given the mix of hues and decorative elements, Espinoza has invented a style he casually calls “Pop Art Country,” in which every room “is fun and invigorating to occupy.”
Espinoza and Byous spend much of their time in a yellow-hued den, its prevailing color scheme determined initially by stacks of vintage issues of the National Geographic, a publication noted for that shade on its covers. “The magazines were a housewarming gift from Anthony [Baratta], which he’d had for years,” says Espinoza. “He used them in his first house as décor but he gave them to me, not only knowing my love of yellow, but also because this was our first house.”
Just as Espinoza knows how to combine multiple hues to maximum effect, so, too, does he understand restraint. For their breakfast nook, off of which on opposite sides are the color-intensive living room and den, Espinoza employed a quiet shade of green for the door, window and ceiling trims. Meanwhile, the white walls create “a blank canvas” for his collection of iron ice-fishing spears, which appear to radiate from the surfaces.
Although the couple has been in the house for two years, the effects of life there continue to surprise them. As Espinoza recalls, “We were cooking dinner the other night, and as I looked from the stove into the progression of rooms beyond, we both became aware of what a beautiful space we live in and have created, and how far we’ve come.”
The print version of this article appeared with the headline: The Full Spectrum.