Janice Barta of Barta Interiors has mastered the art of creating homes that pulse with life.
By Abigail Stone
If the way to understand someone’s heart and culture is through their food, understanding an interior designer’s style often begins with their kitchen. Just consider the work of Janice Barta of Barta Interiors. The kitchen that she created for her own home is the perfect calling card for her work; it’s livable, modern, dramatic and timeless. “I think the majority of people try to keep it safe, especially in the kitchen, because it’s somewhere you have to be every single day and it’s easier to go white with beautiful marble and nickel fixtures,” Barta explains, “But I wanted something a little more bold and rich.”
A moody piece of marble was the jumping off point for the design. “Marble is a piece of art and, from the outset, I thought ‘I need to have this beautiful piece of marble and everything’s going to be set around that’.” Matte black fixtures pump up the drama. A sparkling stainless steel hood was nixed in favor of a custom steel design. “I didn’t want it to be wood because I knew some of the cabinets would be wood,” Barta shares, “You don’t see a lot of steel hoods and in this modern backdrop, it really creates a statement.” Navy blue cabinets are a fresh alternative to black and pick up the marble’s stormy ocean tones. “I wanted something a little bit bolder while still having classic lines that could withstand the test of time,” Barta says. “I don't want someone to look back and be like ‘Oh, that was so 2018.’ It definitely has a modern feeling and it's bit edgy but still classic and beautiful.”
That sensibility — whereby the classic is elevated by the unexpected — threads throughout Barta’s work, forged by the juxtapositions in both her background and her experiences. Born and bred in Massachusetts to a Korean mother and a Czechoslovakian father who are both classical musicians, she was raised on discipline and drive. “It’s not just about having the talent,” she explains, “You really have to be meticulous and focused.” That ethos stuck with her as she headed to the Maryland School of the Arts with plans to be a graphic designer. But, as fate would have it, she found herself mesmerized by the architecture and interior architecture program. “I thought, ‘Of course, this makes so much sense!”, she remembers, “I’ve always enjoyed interiors, seeing how the furniture is arranged, how spaces are designed”. She immediately switched her major, eventually transferring to the prestigious program at Parsons in New York. After graduation, she parlayed an aptitude with AutoCad — a new discipline at the time — into a position with an architecture firm in Milan, returning to New York to work for Foley & Cox before deciding to upend her life and move to Los Angeles. “I just had that itch to come to the west coast,” she laughs. Her final polish came via a stint with superstar interior designer Madeleine Stuart. “Madeline’s extremely meticulous and talented,” Barta raves, “What I learned working there really helped me to set up for having my own business one day.”
“I have my hand in everything,” she confesses, “So I have the ability to not only decide on beautiful trim and a great pillow and how that marries with the sofa and the lounge chairs but also how that looks with the backdrop of the home and the crown moulding and the cabinet detail.” Her focus is on connecting clients to their environments. “Each project is getting to know a new client and marrying them to the project,” she explains, “Everything’s very individual and customized based on the project, the design of the home and the history of the home.” She cites, as one example, an English Tudor home from the 1930s that she recently renovated for one client. “It was the house she’d grown up in and she was moving back into it as an adult,” says Barta, “It was about making it brighter and fresher without taking away either those memories or the integrity of the home.”
For Barta, the importance of dining and kitchens was amplified by the pandemic. “We’re wishing we could go traveling, so creating these dishes is a way to revisit those experiences we can’t have in person right now,” she explains. “Eating takes us to another place — that pasta we had in Italy, that Mai Tai from our trip to Hawaii.” Home, then, has become the canvas in which to dream of life. “My house is my sanctuary. I have to make this bomb. So how do I make it so that I don't feel like I'm going stir crazy?,” she wonders, “How do I make a home where I feel like I'm on a mini vacation just being here?” In this case of Barta’s designs, all you have to do is open your eyes and look around to feel transported.
Follow Janice Barta on Instagram at @bartainteriors