Legacy interior designer (and “King of East Coast Chic”) Anthony Baratta is known for his bold use of color and scale that honors tradition while defying predictability. His design work has graced over 70 magazine covers worldwide, and he has received consistent coverage in respected shelter and media brands such as Architectural Digest, World of Interiors, Traditional Home and others. His own homes have appeared in The New York Times Magazine on three separate occasions.
You can capture Anthony’s joyful design sense through his personally consigned pieces on Sotheby’s Home, including a mixture of his own line along with unique pieces collected over the course of his travels.
Happiness, as in happy rooms, is a guiding theme in your work and new book. Can you share a few tips on how to add happy elements to a room?
People often ask me what makes a room happy. I like to start with color. We all have our favorites and we all only look good in certain colors. I say start with your favorite color that you won’t tire of, and never decorate with color that you will look terrible in — we all know what that is.
Next is comfort. It is the key to happiness. A room should have at least one super comfortable sofa and one comfy club chair — preferably with an ottoman. I think that the easiest way to bring happiness is to include as many personal things in a room as you want. If you collect art, then display it. Vintage pieces and photos of family and friends are a must also.
When do you consider a completed project a success?
I think that a project is completed when you’ve reached a certain level of balance in a room, and in how the various spaces come together. That doesn’t mean that every element has to be there, because finding the right piece is the fun part.
What is the most common design mistake you see?
The biggest mistake I see is when folks try to follow trends. Trends get old really fast. So, I think you should live with what you love and don’t listen to other people’s opinions, except of course if they are a design professional.
Can you tell us a bit about the pieces you are consigning on Sotheby’s Home?
The pieces that are consigned on Sotheby’s Home are a mix of special things that I have been collecting over the years that have lots of different styles and points of view — sort of like my decorating. I never get tired of a piece, but sometimes I am simply making room to buy new things!
Please highlight five pieces you are consigning and tell us a bit about the stories behind them, where you got them and what makes them special.
- I really love the pair of De Angelis club chairs that I have up for sale. They were in one of my interiors, and they have just been reupholstered and are good to immediately go in a home.
- The Hollywood Regency tufted headboard is so chic! It is the real deal and was originally purchased for the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach. The bed has just been re-done in the most beautiful velvet.
- The orange leather-covered chairs are called the “Catalina Chair” by the Italian company Azucena. They are smashing and were purchased from a great dealer of mid-century furniture in London. They are a great price for a really special design.
- The yellow Milo Baughman chaise lounge is a very coveted piece and it’s super comfy. It rocks! I must say that I adore his pieces from this period. They are very luxe.
- The Levi’s sign is a piece of vintage Americana. For some reason I had to have it for my summer house, but I sold the house soon after I bought the piece. I could not find a place for it in my new home. That happens a lot with me.
What do you think about Sotheby’s Home?
I really like Sotheby’s Home because it is well-curated and features great things from designers and dealers. So many e-commerce furniture sites are just all over the place! Way too many levels of quality and ideas as to what is in good taste.
What was your very first design purchase in life, and what was your last design purchase?
My first design purchase was a Harvey Probber sofa from the 1960s. It has been in every NYC apartment I’ve lived, and has been reupholstered a few times. I know I paid around $500 for it, and it is now covered in cheetah silk velvet fabric and has moved to my home on Long Island. The value of each yard of fabric is about three times the original price of the sofa. It seems crazy now that I would do that!
My last design purchase is a 19th-century American portrait of a gentleman that I bought for my house in Colonial Williamsburg while I was designer-in-residence there. He has this really big mustache, and he looks like he could be a member of The Village People. There is a tear in the canvas which I will not fix because it adds to the charm.
Tell us about the one that got away (when it comes to design purchase).
The one that got away that I always think about was a David Hockney portrait of a sailor that I saw at Art Basel, Miami Beach. It was a bad decision to pass on it.
Tell us about a few of your prized possessions: what is your heirloom or something you love the most at home?
My most loved possessions are my collection of 19th-century plaster casts of classical sculptures. I was purchasing them for years when I was shopping for antiques in Europe. I’ve always had a lot of comments and criticisms of them, yet each one is special to me (frankly I am not interested in what people think).
What was your favorite room in your home, growing up?
Honestly, I had no favorite. I really never liked the decorating. I think that may be the reason I became a decorator.
If you were a room, what kind of room would you be?
If I were a room, I’d be a library. I love to live around books and I like to share my knowledge. I’m kind of all over the place with the books I like, but the most beloved are my art books.
Please share who you follow on Instagram:
I follow Jay Versace for laughs, and Accidentally Wes Anderson for inspiration.
Who is your (living) design crush, and why?
My living design crush? That one is really hard. The two separate design teams that are responsible for the sets of Little Women and Emma. That’s probably because people that have seen the movies say that the sets reminded them of my interiors