Mix Masters: Erick Espinoza

Erick Espinoza of Anthony Baratta LLC designs a gentleman’s study that’s not afraid of being pretty.

Photography by Ellen McDermott

Known for his skill with color, pattern and layering, interior designer Erick Espinoza of Anthony Baratta LLC never fails to create unique, thoughtful and happy spaces. The Miami native, who rocketed from intern to creative director at Anthony Baratta LLC, graduated from the New York School of Interior Design, where he was the first recipient of the full Albert Hadley Scholarship. When invited to create a vignette at Stamford’s Avery & Dash, he jumped at the chance. “It’s a great honor,” notes Espinoza. “Nick and his father have such a beautiful collection.” Using items from 20,000 square feet of furnishings plus Curator paint, existing Carlisle wood flooring and Diane James Home floral designs, Espinoza created “a gentleman’s study that’s not afraid of being pretty.”

What’s the overall aesthetic of this vignette? It errs on the side of traditional. I wanted to take that notion, freshen it up a little bit and make it relevant to today.

How did you begin? I started with the two bookcases. They are so intensely gorgeous. They’re structured, architectural and set up the whole room to be built around them, creating a certain level of formality. That was followed by the mirror. Because of the architecture of the cabinets, everything had to be pretty structured in terms of the style.

What’s the story behind this beautiful rug? It’s based on an old Currier & Ives print. It was blown up and made by Stark for a big house by Diamond Baratta Design in New Canaan. When the clients sold the home, a lot of the items went up for auction. Tony Baratta was very lucky to find it at auction, and we snapped it up.

Did it set your color palette? Absolutely. The rug has very beautiful greens—leafy, natural, vibrant and clean—but there are also touches of blue, pink, red. For the walls, I used Looming Sky from the Curator collection, which is like the blue in the rug. I wanted to break up the blue a little bit with the chair rail and then by painting the wainscoting.

And the hand-painted Delft look? It was a labor of love. I wanted the space to be French Provincial and Dutch—this glamorous fantasy of a world that doesn’t necessarily exist anymore.

What came next? I started layering the space with things for contemporary living. The modern prints on the wall really accentuate the whites—sofa, desk chair, chair rail, fireplace mantel, plates—in the rest of the room.

How about the pops of black? Black is a great punctuation to any room. It elevates it and says, ‘I’m not afraid.’ And why be afraid? It’s just decorating. Then I had to see if those punctuations made sense in the room. I brought in the black cabinet first, then added black shades on the chandelier and the pedestals with the busts—that disperses the black. When we work with color, we really want it to dance around. At the end of the day, every color in the room is used in every part of the room.

How does the chandelier fit in? The chandelier is just so very American to me. Part of what we do is use French or English antiques, but whatever you do, make it American. Make it a signature American style because that’s who we are.

What’s your top tip for mixing eras/styles? They have to make sense together. The coffee table, for example, is a very shiny, new product. But the basis of the design stems from classical. The legs are all like columns, and it has an edge detail that gives it a sense of tradition like it was a molding. Those elements tie it into the architecture of the room. The fireplace mantel, the mirror, those also have the column structure. And you don’t want everything from the same period or the same area. I love throwing in one or two things that are completely foreign. Here, the Chinese blue and white pottery automatically sparks it up. It says this a prominent person who is a collector.

How did you decide on the greenery? I wanted greenery on top of the bookcases to pull everything upward. I found the ferns on Diane James’ website. She did the ferns inside pots that I found here at Avery & Dash. The peonies on the table, also from Diane James, bring in that splash of pink from the rug.

Which piece would you like to take home? The windmill clock. It is so fabulous. I have never seen anything quite like it.