“I really live in my home. I tell my clients they should too,” explains Nancy Barsotti, as she guides us through her lovely, lived-in Rosslyn Farms home, a mix of late Queen Anne Victorian and Craftsman architectural styles. Built in the early 1900s, Barsotti has turned the house into a haven over the past 34 years. “I truly enjoy working with older homes because I think they have so much charm, and they sort of speak to you. You feel like you’re taking care of them. This house really has been a labor of love, that’s for sure,” she says.
As the newly elected president of the American Society of Interior Designers Western Pennsylvania Chapter, Barsotti, Fellow of the American Society of Interior Designers, brings a design philosophy that’s realistic and comfortable, along with a love of antiques, architectural details, and collections. “You know, as they say about collections, you start the minute you get the second piece,” she says with a laugh.
From a fantastic, nearly full set of green-handled vintage cooking tools to a fine potpourri of violet-hued glass apothecary and liquor bottles found in antique shops from here to Rhode Island, Barsotti’s home embodies the advice she gives her clients: Take what you love and incorporate it into your living space. “I believe in investing in your home. It is the place that reflects you and should be the most comfortable, enjoyable, and happy place in your life.”
The living room speaks to Barsotti’s penchant for combining what might seem like opposite styles: a Victorian aesthetic mixed with an array of pieces from her travels to Singapore, China, and Thailand, including authentic Chinese shadow puppets, replica terracotta warriors, and a neck pillow from the estate of Katherine Hepburn. Barsotti chose to have the circa-1920 love seats reupholstered with deep purple fabric to coordinate with the other jewel-tone colors in the room, including the burgundy and dark green found in the grass cloth wall covering and
Tradition, Taken Up a Notch
Singular, antique pieces of glass make the dining room sing like a French glass epergne. “In Victorian homes, these were placed in the center of the table with flowers in them or candies or confections for celebrations,” she says, of the piece she styles according to the holiday season — daffodils and chocolates for Easter, evergreen branches and ornaments for Christmas. As for the mosaic-mirror chairs, Barsotti describes them as “a modern touch of glitz in a very traditional room.” When the French doors are open, the screened-in porch running along the back of the house adds an ideal dose of light to the glass-and-mirror-filled space.
Formerly used as a breakfast nook, Barsotti transformed what was once a butler’s pantry to its original grandeur, making the most of a small space. The gas-powered lighting has been replaced with electric fixtures, but special light bulbs harken back to the look of gaslight and the original push-button light switches are still in place, just rewired. The display case contains her collection of antique Fiestaware, and the shelves in the far corner hold favorite restaurant menus and recipes. The rack displaying the kitchen tools is a Victorian-era piece. “Green is sort of the running theme through the house, so I decided to collect only the green-handled ones,” she explains.
Barsotti snagged this authentic quilt in Xian, China, for a mere $20, but it took many years to decide how to best display it. “I literally save everything until I find the right place for it,” she says. When it came time to renovate the third floor of her home, she found the perfect place for the blanket. “I later read that these quilts are made just in that area and they’re made by the women to put on babies’ cribs. All of these little animals are meant to ward off evil spirits,” she says
of the incredibly unique piece.
Above and Beyond
“I enjoy working with my client’s heirlooms and collections, helping them to design a beautiful setting to showcase what means the most to them. These items bring out their personalities and that is what this profession is all about — going beyond what clients could dream of and exceeding their expectations,”