At Home With Maria & Sean Barry
Published November 8, 2011
“Mommeeee!!” cry five-year-old Brett and eight-year-old Carly as they burst into the room and wrap their arms around their mother. Maria Barry has just returned home after a week in Greenwich, Connecticut, working on a dream design project on Long Island Sound. Her two younger children, students at Solana Santa Fe, are obviously delighted to see her. Twelve-year-old Brittany, a seventh grader at Earl Warren Middle School, has already arrived home and is looking forward to spending the whole weekend with her mom doing “girlie stuff” while dad Sean takes the two youngest kids on a camping trip. It’s a whirlwind life that Maria, an interior designer, and Sean, a mortgage banker, seem to handle with aplomb.
The couple’s Mediterranean-style Fairbanks Ranch home is expansive and breathtaking. Massive doors open onto the entryway where a double circular staircase winds up to the second floor. Just past the entry, two rows of clerestory windows look out onto the backyard, a “kids’ heaven,” with a pool, playground, tennis and basketball courts, and Sean’s favorite spot, a fire pit surrounded by chairs with views all the way to Del Mar.
The comfortable family room is filled with family photos and sports memorabilia, including footballs signed by Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates, and Quentin Jammer, to name just a few.
Maria is a self-described sports fanatic, which stems from growing up as a “Jersey Girl” in Orange, and later, West Orange, New Jersey, one of six children from a working class Italian family. Her mother was a homemaker; her father, known as “Tuffy,” was a general contractor. Maria grew up in a noisy, boisterous house with lots of family and friends, and big pots of pasta simmering on the stove. “People had nothing back there in the ’60s. It was all about sports, having relatives over, a big Italian family and watching the Giants,” she recalls. “People lived and died by the Giants, the Yankees, the Mets, and Jets.”
Maria graduated from the University of Maryland, but in 1992 grew restless and decided to move to San Diego, a big leap for her and her family, but one that has paid off both personally and professionally. On a day trip to Rosarito Beach with friends from Frog’s gym, she met and later married Sean Barry of the Barry real estate family. Their children would soon follow. While Sean worked as an attorney and later in mortgage finance, Maria’s design business took off. She and partner Cindy Cerenzie run the successful Le Dimora, a 12,000-square-foot showroom and design studio in Del Rayo Village with a dozen employees and clients all over the world including Tracy and Trevor Hoffman. It was Barry Moores who first called Maria about a design project and liked her work so much that he referred her to the Hoffmans. Since then, Maria and her staff have also designed homes for Quentin Jammer, David Wells, Darren Sproles, Sean Phillips, and Antonio Gates. Now Maria is designing second and third homes for clients in Aspen, Jackson Hole, Vancouver, and Greenwich. “I think creating a great experience for people and having a great relationship is everything,” Maria says. “I pride myself on the fact that when we’re doing a job for someone, we have so much fun. We laugh, we talk, we joke, we educate them.”
The Barrys love their home and often have friends over to watch football games — Maria makes big pots of spaghetti and meatballs or Sean will barbecue. They also like to dine out at Flavor, Pamplemousse Grille, Dolce Pane E Vino, Fleming’s, and Donovan’s. The kids keep them busy with school, sports, and Indian Guides. But they still manage to take trips to Napa and Italy and an occasional Chargers away game.
The couple is also involved with the Jammer Family Foundation, working with Alicia and Quentin Jammer to raise money for foster children at San Pasqual Academy, and other worthy causes. On December 1, Maria hosts host a Jimmy Choo party at Le Dimora from 6-8:30pm, featuring shoes, shopping, music, and catering by the new Sushi on the Rock restaurant at Del Rayo, which Maria is designing.
Maria gets teary-eyed when she talks about her late parents, her large and loving family, and the New Jersey childhood that shaped her. She says she is grateful for all that has happened in her life and looks forward to the next milestone — her 50th birthday in January. Unlike many women who dread the passing of each year, Maria embraces them. “Everything I’ve been through in my life has made me stronger, better, happier,” she says. “I’m the happiest person in the world right now.” It’s a life Maria couldn’t have designed better herself. Andrea Naversen