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Entering the main living area from the kitchen, the spaciousness of the home shows in color as well as height. The dark floorboards are offset by the restored, paneled walls. Arches bring to mind a ship and harken the maritime heritage of Essex. The main arch holds special meaning for the couple, who married under it four years ago. The ceilings are unusually high for 1802, culminating in the beams. "We wanted to keep everything as era-correct as possible," says Barbieri.
The dining area features a rough-hewn table surrounded by upholstered Louis XVI fauteuils. The chairs had been painted pumpkin orange with matching vinyl padding but Barbieri treated them to a signature crackle finish and upholstered them in sunny yellow toile, offset with striped fabric on the backs. Barbieri mixed a custom robin's-egg-blue paint to cover the thick plaster walls. She favors clean seascape blues, murky raw umbers and non-colors, "those wonderful tones you see in an old home in Newport or a piece of furniture at Monticello."
The living room has an informal mix of comfortable furniture. "I paint a lot and I'm always afraid I'll sit down with paint on my pants," says Barbieri. The massive Rumford fireplace showcases a period-correct mantel. Lamps fashioned from antique French wine vats, top-scorched-bamboo end tables. Armchairs upholstered in fruits de mer-patterned chenille rotate on swivels and face an antique sofa from the Yale law library, updated in rich, chocolate brown velvet.
The foyer has been reinvented as a hall of mirrors. The original bull's-eye insets at the front door cast a prism on the mirrors throughout the day. She complements the light and shadows with two cast-iron urns. A compass rose at the entrance employs a stain-on-stain design. The design reflects Barbieri's decorative painting work and the motif reappears in a nautical map that charts their travels they once took aboard a forty-foot cruiser. The map mixes with other prints, including a favorite by Winslow Homer.