In our monthly Interior Designer Crush series, we sit down and chat with our interior designer crush du jour to ask them 10 questions we’re dying to have answered. Today, we visit with Betsy Brown of Betsy Brown Inc. She comes alive when mining the daily living patterns, cherished objects, formative experiences and unique tastes and personalities of her clients. Listening to her clients is the cornerstone of her work, and she translates what she hears into beautiful, livable spaces that possess the very design DNA of her clients. “A well suited home is a portrait of those who live within,” she writes on her website. “Modernist sensibilities form the foundation while antiquities inform and balance, providing a delicate tension and subtle energy. The result is a home that genuinely reflects one’s true nature.” We asked Betsy to describe her aesthetic, let us in on some tricks of the trade and give us a glimpse of her stunning portfolio. We hope you enjoy!
What is your design aesthetic and how do you translate that to a client’s home?
I try to create intelligent, authentic, comfortable spaces. And I do my best to listen. My clients are generally smart, unpretentious people who don’t want to be cast in a play they didn’t write.
Where are your favorite local spots to source decor for a client’s home?
Details by Liz Hand Woods, Paige Albright Orientals, Patina, Circa Interiors & Antiques, Henhouse Antiques, Architectural Heritage, Gallery 1930, Table Matters, Cottage Supply Company, Leaf & Petal and Three Sheets.
Are there any trends you’re loving at the moment, and, alternately, any timeless aspects of design that you cling to?
I’m loving the availability of great photography. It’s a wonderful foil for the timeless antiques and mid-century pieces we work with.
What has been your most challenging project to date and why?
We occasionally have clients who are incredibly well researched but can’t seem to make final decisions, causing their projects to stall. I feel tremendous empathy for them because I’ve been there myself from time to time. I try to determine where the snags are so we can gently work through them and get the project moving forward.
What brings you the most professional joy?
I have two answers for that question. First, on a daily basis I find so much joy in the people I work with. My assistant Anna Still is brilliantly organized, has exquisite taste and is the best taskmaster ever. She’s my boss. Then our drapery and soft furniture maker, our upholsterer and our wood-steel-and-bronze furniture maker are each amazingly talented at their craft. They make my work look good. (And they know who they are!) What else brings me professional joy? I live for installation day. Seeing a house come together is thrilling for everyone involved. The client’s reaction when they see their finished rooms, it’s a drug we’re all addicted to.
Where do you get your inspiration?
A client’s happiness and peace of mind is a designer’s inspiration, and travel is probably the best teacher and motivator.
Who have been your industry mentors and role models and why?
When I graduated in interior design in the ’70s — um, yes — my mind was blown by Billy Baldwin, Albert Hadley and John Dickinson. Their work was intelligent, tailored, comfortable and absolutely gorgeous. It looks as good today as it did 40 years ago.
Share one designer secret with us regular folk.
You, your architect and your interior designer should be a team from the beginning of the project to the end.
What are your predictions for interior design in the next 10 to 15 years?
There are several forces at play in the design world right now that could not have been foreseen 10 years ago. Restoration Hardware is oversimplifying the choices; Pinterest and Instagram are showing us all the possibilities, but building the insane pressure we all feel to project the perfect life; and Anna Wintour at the helm of Architectural Digest is encouraging us to throw out the rule book and look beyond our social media feeds. What will be next? Hell if I know! I just hope to be around for the ride.
If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?
Listen. Collaborate. Make something beautiful.
Thank you to Betsy for sharing her impressive body of work as well as her thoughtful insights. To view more of her gorgeous work or to contact Betsy, visit betsybrowninc.net.
And thank you Eric and Jamie Gay of Eric & Jamie Photography for the lovely portrait of Betsy!
See who else we’re crushing on in our interiors archives. Click here and enjoy a look around!