Today we welcome Betsy Brown, a woman well known throughout these parts and beyond our Southern borders for her decorating prowess. Betsy combines neutral palettes with a bold flair, creating a unique visual harmony with the masterful eye of a true artist. She may be an award-winning designer accustomed to full spreads in all the glossy design magazines, but look beyond the surface of this out-of-this-world interior designer and you’ll find a charming, down-to-earth girl next door. Welcome, Betsy!
How did you get your start in decorating?
My mother was an antiques dealer and was obsessed with design, so it was always discussed in our house. I felt like Billy Baldwin was someone she actually knew. When my older sister announced she was going to major in interior design, I knew I had to, as well. Couldn’t let her house look better than mine! It does anyway, though.
How would you describe your style as a decorator?
A harmony of opposites — modern and traditional, dramatic but comfortable.
Where would you suggest people put their money to get the most design bang for their buck, if they aren’t able to do it all at once?
The first purchase should be a very well thought-out plan. Everything else is so easy after that.
What trends do you see in home decor going into the future?
Nuanced collections of traditional and modern elements. Pinterest and design blogs are letting people suss out their own style and keep records of it. The more a client knows about what’s available, the more they can articulate the elements they’re drawn to, so a better collaboration takes place with their designer. This deeper knowledge base is allowing for more nuanced decisions and a cooler mix of elements. It’s great.
What are your favorite local places for decor finds?
What are three design faux pas?
Yikes. I don’t like rules, and a lot of things I do would be considered faux pas by some. The biggest mistake you can make is anything that feels pretentious or inauthentic. Whatever that is for you, don’t do it.
What did your bedroom look like when you were a teenage girl?
My friends had floral bedrooms, but mine was bohemian — oriental rugs, wooden beads in the doorways, a leopard-skin chaise longue. It’s a room I’d probably like today.
What local event are you most looking forward to?
The Sidewalk Film Festival. My daughter, Liz Brown, introduced me to it a few years ago, and now I never miss.
Favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
I have small cabin with the most dramatic view I’ve ever seen on the Green River Gorge near Asheville, NC. You can usually find me there on Saturday nights snuggled in bed with Finn and Hurley Bell (coolest grandchildren ever) watching multiple kid movies on multiple devices.
Favorite local restaurant?
Oh my gosh, Birmingham has so many classics that everyone knows, and some fun new ones. Carrigan’s is great, Post Office Pies if you like pizza, Todd English P.U.B., Vittoria has great cocktails. I can’t pick just one.
What books are on your bedside table/e-reader?
What are you listening to?
I’m currently stuck on Mumford & Sons.
What do you do to recharge your batteries?
I read anything and everything. And when I’m driving I listen to Audible books.
What’s the best piece of advice ever given to you?
1) Look deep inside, decide what you really believe and own it.
What advice would you give to others?
Above all, be authentic — anything else is wasted energy. I wish I had always known this.
Do you have any personality quirks or irrational fears?
The studies coming out about introverts have finally let me appreciate being one. It takes a lot of quiet mental work to be creative.
If your house was on fire, what’s the one nonliving thing you would grab?
Three great pencil drawings of my daughters when they were younger.
Name three things you can’t live without, excluding friends, family and faith.
High-speed Internet, meditation and Dropbox.
Thanks for sharing, Betsy!
And a huge thank you to Beth Hontzas for today’s fabulous photos!