A vintage bar is the heart of this interior designer’s home

What makes a purchase “worth it”? The answer is different for everyone, so we request some of the coolest, most shopping savvy people we know, from small business owners to designers, artists and actorsto tell us the story of one of their most prized possessions.

WHO?

AT Dyphor New York, a “to die for” riff, Francesca Messina-DeShae and husband Ahmad do it all. The couple’s showroom in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, bespoke and interior design, is filled with high-quality bohemian, mid-century and Art Deco-inspired treasures, including teak chairs and desks in rattan, velvet poufs and marble and travertine tables. Handmade, colorful Moroccan rugs Dapper Lou prints, and travel photography books featuring faraway places are visual vacations from wintry New York.

Francesca Messina-DeShae of Dyphor New York.

“Seventy percent of the furniture is designed by us,” says Francesca. She and Ahmad have been manufacturing and importing their own collection for over 20 years. The two started a wholesale business together in Bali after meeting at a trade show, and grew from there. Francesca, who studied textile design and once owned a bespoke bedding and luxury linen business, works with a rug family in Marrakech and travels year round to source, collaborate with artisans and visit Dyphor’s factory in Java, Indonesia. Ahmad, who has a background in fine art and design, oversees operations at their Brooklyn warehouse (unloading 40ft containers is no small feat!). Their other specialty is interior design and they handle a range of projects from apartments to gut renovations to property staging. Before moving to the East Coast with their two daughters in 2016, they operated out of several Los Angeles outposts and built up a devoted celebrity following.

Now focusing on their core services at Dyphora, said Francesca, “it just fell.” The family divides their time between New York, Bali and, more recently, Costa Rica, where they are building a property. “We’re artists and designers, and it shows when you come to the store,” says Francesca. “It resonates with people. Maybe they have never traveled to this country, but it really feels like being there.

What?

On work trips to Southeast Asia, Francesca says, “I’m always distracted by vintage finds. His most prized possession is a beveled bar made of burl walnut wood in an Art Deco style, probably from the 1930s or 1940s. Framing the dining room in their light-filled Stuyvesant Heights brownstone, the bar is lined with glasses and vintage decanters. At the top is a Natan Moss ceramic lamp and an unknown wood framed oil portrait of an Indonesian girl. “For me, this area represents the modern mixed with the old world,” she says.

“You always know old wood is stretched,” Francesca says, a detail she noticed on the bar after the burl was stripped.

When and where?

Two years ago in Indonesia, Francesca came across an antique shop she had never been to. “I have my secret sources, and when I ride my motorbike through the rice fields, something will catch my eye,” she says.

The main bar cabinet door slides back to reveal ample storage space for specialty glasses and a decanter.

Piled under stuff in a corner with mismatched buttons and covered in stickers, Francesca spotted the dusty bar. A lion’s head knob and the pink and gold pinstripe mirror she saw inside made her think it was a piece from the Dutch colonial era. “I was like, this is so beautiful, I see the potential,” she says. After buying it, Francesca had the wood stripped, revealing sturdy veins and bold columns.

Why?

Although she intended to sell it, the bar has since become a centerpiece of her home. “I love throwing parties and creating little moments,” she says. “Once this bar is open, I shake my cocktails and put some snacks in there. My kids are part of the party and I always have a virgin cocktail for them.

Francesca recalls intimate dinners with her family and a small circle of friends during the pandemic; they had deep conversations about the Black Lives Matter movement, the isolation her daughters felt being out of school, and lighter birthday celebrations. “This area absorbs a lot of memories,” she says. “Every piece I have evokes an emotion that I want to cling to.”

Burl wood sideboard from Mora One Kings Lane

1st dibs Farmhouse Brass Accent Burl Wood Server Dry Bar Cabinet

CB2 Amati burl wood hall cabinet

Betty K. Park