Mix Masters: Barsanti Desmone

Dan Barsanti and Chris Desmone design a layered, refined space with a modern sensibility.

Asked to design a vignette at Avery & Dash Collections using a mix of period furnishings and accessories (plus Curator paint from Ring’s End and Carlisle wood flooring), interior designers Dan Barsanti and Chris Desmone of Barsanti Desmone managed to create a layered, sophisticated living room with a hint of fantasy. “We wanted a sense of it being a stage set. The chalk lines make a point of ‘don’t forget, you’re looking at something that’s staged,’” explains Barsanti. “I bought a box of chalk and gave it to Chris asking: ‘White or black?’ Instead, he used a sort of peach tone, which ended up looking almost like gold leaf.” Notes Desmone, “It has the sensibility of old faded blueprints.”

C&G: Did you have a person or place in mind?
DB: I think it was a combination of clients. It’s always lovely when a client can teach you something from an aesthetic perspective. In this case, we decided it was somebody who was well-traveled and has an appreciation for fine things but also likes to mix it up a bit.

CD: I felt it was a second-home space—more of a destination, maybe in the mountains versus the city. It does have a country bent but a modern country bent.

C&G: What else inspired the space?
DB: We didn’t want it to just look collected with a lot of stuff. We wanted a point of view—some modern pieces that resonate with a specific period of time.

CD: And coloration. There’s definitely an ode to the color blue, which happened to be a tonal quality in the rug as well. An oriental rug also establishes tradition, and we built on top of it with more eclectic pieces that run the gamut from tramp art to Italian benches to modern glass end tables. The rug also kind of fades into the floor color, which I think is a good thing.

C&G: Why did you choose this palette?
CD: These are warm colors for the winter season. The blue is a complementary color to the rust; they definitely work well with each other. I think that plays to the feeling of ice. It showcases the items. It becomes the backdrop, and the items then come forward.

DB: Using this color so affirmatively on everything—the walls, the floors, the trim—it envelops the space and makes you want to enter it and see what’s inside of it. It looks great with the wood tones in the space.

C&G: Did you start with the wall/floor color?
DB: Yes. We’d just done the NYC&G–sponsored Brooklyn showhouse where we used a deep gray for the walls. Our initial thought was “let’s do that here.” But when we looked through the Curator paint colors, we found this Chestnut Grain, which is kind of showstopping and speaks to the time of year that we are in and makes you feel good about being in it.

CD: Also, it’s a super-clear color. Subdued, but super clear.

C&G: What was the first piece you chose and why?
CD: The tramp art or the quilt, and we both love the white plaster John Dickinson console, which is a beautiful contrast that pops off the wall.
And we have the contrast of the tramp art being total texture and the console being completely smooth. So they’re opposites and look great together.

DB: There’s also a lack of shiny things in the space. The majority of the accessories are matte—the pair of vases are matte black. I love the fur throws on the bench. We wanted to make the bench look sexy; that’s how you do it! I actually took the bedspread off my own bed and brought it in here.

C&G: What’s the most modern piece?
CD: Besides the two glass 1980s tables, it’s the black lacquer table.

DB: Those are things that resonate and give you a timeline of how you can mix something from the 1800s with something from the 1980s and have it look great—if the colors support it. You can’t have it all and have a good looking space. If you want to mix periods, and do it confidently, it’s important that scale or color are similar.

C&G: What is one piece you’d like to take home?
CD: The John Dickinson console because I have a total plaster fetish. The second piece I’d take home is the tramp art piece, but I’d have to have a country or a ski house.

DB: The pair of black vases: They’re very reminiscent of a vase that I designed with Nick Newcomb that is black with black spikes. For me, it sort of validates what we did.

The print version of the article appears with the headline: New Mix Masters