Henrietta Naomie February 27, 2021 Home Design
Betsy and Peter have kept close to their love story, literally: they met in college, married in Saratoga Springs, NY, and now their home is just down the street from their alma mater. The family was planning to relocate to be closer to Peter’s job and had one weekend to find their house; coming back to their college hometown was a happy byproduct. Despite the varying styles of homes they toured, Peter and Betsy knew the moment they stepped into their now home that it was “the one.” Betsy had actually always wanted to live in a barn, and loved how open the spaces were. The fact that it was somehow an in-town barn made walking to restaurants and shops incredibly convenient, it had a space for an on-site design studio as well — it was the perfect fit.
Nick Huff is the proud owner of this Navajo tapestry, made by hand and gifted to his grandmother by her best friend, Midge. In turn, the gift was passed on to him. This piece is a meaningful reminder of the connection Nick had with Midge and his grandmother. “I always value the human connection over anything that might be in the home,” he shares about his approach to decoration in his duplex in Omaha, NE.
While the bones of the home were heavenly (while sitting in the living room you can look up and see all the way through the cupola) the style felt a little more like a lodge than a home. So, the timbers and doors and windows were all painted white (Benjamin Moore “Linen White”), in a terrifying process using plywood sheets and ladders to reach the some 40 feet up. Iron balusters were updated with steel cable and tempered glass. In Betsy’s studio, she took the dark green former stables and painted everything white and added casements under the window to allow for more natural light in the somewhat cave-like space. The last vestige of the lodge feel for Betsy and Peter is their fireplace, and because of the scale, it will take a while for them to figure out what the perfect replacement will be. While the open spaces were something Betsy had dreamed of, and one of her favorite features, they do create the design challenge of being able to see everything from one end of the house to the other. Betsy had to make sure when she was designing the space that everything felt cohesive. Scale is also a key design element in their home — pieces that once felt huge in their last home were now dwarfed in the massive barn house.
Betsy and Peter Olmsted share their home with their two boys Emmett (7) and Wells (4), as well as Winnie the mature-madam shepherd mix, Hank the French bulldog, and Archer the leopard gecko. Their home was originally a Victorian carriage house and barn that was used for three neighboring mansions, built in 1890 when it also had three deeds. The 5,400-square-foot home was created from the converted spaces in 2008, and the Olmsted family moved in and made it their own a year ago. The downstairs features an open plan, their den, and the attached stables that became The Betsy Olmsted Design Studio — Betsy’s namesake textile company, Betsy Olmsted, which features a line of printed vibrant watercolor infused textile housewares with her whimsically sophisticated illustrations (which are heavily inspired by animals and nature). Upstairs you’ll find more open spaces, three bedrooms and baths, a study, and even a screened-in sleeping porch.
Image Above: Nasozi Kakembo shares how important it is to showcase images and reminders of her family and Ugandan heritage for the benefit of her son in their Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn brownstone tour. This wall-hanging comes from Nasozi’s family, purchased in Liberia by her mother in the 1970s, “although the design provenance is Ivory Coast.” It is an example of her deliberate decorative process to instill a global and empathetic worldview in her son through the objects she places in her home.
The Olmsted family has no shortage of interests and activities they like to partake in; for Betsy it’s design and art, gardening (their neighborhood allows for supporting local farms and produce, too), yoga, and scoring vintage finds. Peter’s work is in energy policy and he is an advocate for sustainable energy and enjoys cycling and outdoor adventuring. Their seven-year-old, Emmett, loves nature (especially rocks and fossils at the moment) and animals. Last but not least, Wells loves track suits, costumes and his favorite gold high-tops. We can only imagine how much fun this family will have creating art and memories together in this inspiring space.
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