Most people buy a home and then decorate it. Interior designers find and collect perfect furnishings throughout their lives and careers, then wait for the house to come along. Dan Mazzarini is the embodiment of this philosophy, with a Manhattan apartment and Greenport home filled with local and international finds procured over decades, plus a few saved from his childhood. A palette of white, black, tan and caramel pulls it all together, making even the most disparate finds cohesive.
The talented yet unassuming Mazzarini — named one of “40 at Forty” by Interior Design and included in the “New Trad” Class of 2018 by Traditional Home — designed domestic and international stores for Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors before launching his own bicoastal firm BHDM Design eight years ago, designing everything from homes to hotels and offices. He landed on the North Fork six years ago after designing American Beech restaurant and five hotel rooms for owner Brent Pelton, who is a friend. That led to a commission to design a home in Orient, and soon Mazzarini was impulsively bidding on a 120-year-old Greenport house with his partner, Andy Grover, “one night after two glasses of wine,” he jokes. A few years later, the couple bought another home in East Marion, which operates mainly as a rental.
With his signature red polka dot Stan Smiths the only pop of color in the neutral space, Mazzarini gave us a tour of his memento-filled Greenport home and offered advice from “a proud Happy Hoarder” on showcasing collected finds from childhood, career, trips and life on the North Fork.
Despite his overflowing warehouse, Mazzarini makes full use of local North Fork second-hand stores. “I like found things with a sense of history, and the stores out here are great,” he said. In the bedroom, the dresser is from North Found & Co. in Peconic and the chair from Beall & Bell in Greenport. In the entryway, the stool, white urn and basket are from White Flower Farmhouse in Southold and the demilune table and lamp are from Beall & Bell.
PEEL BACK THE LAYERS
The house had been in the same family for 120 years, and Mazzarini found some of the late owner’s personal effects, like a book from her 90th birthday showing all The New York Times front pages on her 90 years of birthdays. “How amazing is that?” he said. “Do we feel her presence here in the house? Well, I’d say we feel protected and loved … but not haunted.”
Beneath the peeling wallpaper and pink painted sheetrock he discovered beautiful beadboard, which he painted glossy white to offset the house’s original black chandelier, one of the few items he kept. A 1936 Paul Derringer baseball card discovered in the wall now hangs in the living room.
Mixing eras and rounding out the assortment is a corner table that was his grandparents’, plus a glass lamp purchased new on a trip to London. Local North Fork additions include a chair and artwork from Beall & Bell and a Pendleton blanket from Clarke’s Garden and Home, both in Greenport.
PROVIDE A CLEAN CANVAS
A clean white interior creates a quiet visual and blank canvas for Mazzarini’s collectibles. “I wanted this house to be a respite from my place in the city,” he said. “I love glossy white paint, as it throws the light around even more.” He painted the white floors and steps in glossy Sherwin Williams Armourseal Rexthane, and left the original step wood bare for contrast, creating for a unique “runner-like” effect. The framed art series is from a Paris flea market in a black-and-white gestural style he loves.
CREATE A LIFE STORY
Mazzarini builds his own family legacy with nostalgic heirlooms he’s brought in. The single beds in his guest room were his mom’s when she was a girl, and they had already traveled from his grandparents’ house to his sister’s room and ultimately to Greenport. “I’m sentimental. In high school, I remember telling my mom, ‘I’m going to want these beds some day!’ ” Mazzarini said. “When we bought this house, I called my mom and said, ‘Bring the beds, it’s time!’ She drove them out and I painted them white in the backyard. My parents love visiting us in Greenport and seeing these family pieces.”
MIX STYLES AND PROVENANCE
Many people are afraid to mix styles, but Mazzarini brushes that aside. “All decorating is experimental. If it’s all things you like, they’ll work together and won’t look like anyone else’s style,” he said.
“I found this table with foldable sides at a flea market in Paris with Andy, on a vacation to our favorite city. I warehoused it because I didn’t have a home for it, but it was just too good to pass up.”
Even some discarded chairs found near his childhood home in Pittsburgh made the cut: “I’m Midwestern at heart, so when my mom found some chairs in the neighbor’s trash I jumped,” he said. The reupholstered chairs now head the rustic dining room table, complementing black Windsor-style chairs from a TRNK sample sale.
No matter where life and career take you, remember the moments along the way. Touches of Mazzarini’s former undertakings make appearances in his Greenport home. The pillows were repurposed from a tablecloth used when BHDM participated in Sotheby’s Designer Showhouse and Auction, and the dramatic kitchen pendant light was left over from a former project.
Not all objects are “found.” The vintage kitchen island was purchased in Texas after a specific search. “This was an actual ‘I know what I want’ moment,” Mazzarini said. “I hunted for a piece like this, finally found it on Chairish and had it sent up to Greenport.”
TAKE IT OUTSIDE
The backyard isn’t just handy for painting furniture, but also for creating art, like the giant diptych painting Mazzarini spontaneously whipped up for the living room one day. It’s also an artsy entertaining space, with objects sourced locally. The face chairs are from Mattituck Florist, the plants from Verderber Nursery and Garden Center in Aquebogue and the pots from Clarke’s Garden.
And the Mercedes? “This was literally an impulse buy on the drive out to Greenport, purchased at Riverhead’s Rare and Distinctive Automobiles. The car is from 1980, which is the year I was born, so it felt like a must have!”