Michelle Maëlie February 27, 2021 Home Design
Creating a space that was colorful, informal, incorporated furniture inherited from Betsy’s grandparents (traditional on one side and mid-century from the other), and that could handle two wild boys, was essential. Betsy is most thankful for the former stables that became her studio, originally thinking that she would have to rent a studio before they found their home. Betsy explains, “The feeling of old time past and rustic white wood are so brand-friendly. It’s a luxury to work while the boys are home and at night without leaving the house. I also bring them into the studio to make projects like tie dying and painting. Plus I like for them to be exposed daily to my work and to art and design — I hope to inspire them.” She also never takes the open space for granted, especially during the long winters. Betsy adds, “They run around, build obstacle courses, and shoot Nerf bullets all over the place. It really helps keep them ‘out of my bubble’ and I can see everything they’re doing while cooking, etc.”
“We’d been searching for a home in Park Slope for what seemed like forever,” she says. “At one point we tried to buy a big house with friends and split it in half, but it got very complicated very quickly. About that time I said to Jonah, ‘we just need a little house, where are the little houses?’ When we saw our house we both said: ‘it is definitely little!’ But compared to what we were used to, even though it’s only 12 feet wide it really is a lot of house. On top of that, it has a lot of original detail, gorgeous ceiling moldings, original stained glass. I’m sure I was staring at those pretty windows while ignoring words like ‘complete electrical/plumbing updates,’ [and] ‘mechanical redo’.”
Vivian continues, “We wanted a floor plan that opened to the outdoors as much as possible. A place to showcase the art we collect in an inviting, user/dog-friendly space. A place to casually entertain guests while we cook. We chose a Danish dining table/chairs to maximize our view of the fields behind our house that will one day include more sculptures.” The Neill’s worked with architect firm, Howorth & Associates to see their vision to fruition.
It would be the perfect home for Sarah were it not for the fact they can’t have cats. “I have offered bribes and contracts and everything I can think of to our landlord but we just can’t have a cat.” Luckily, Cat Town Cafe, America’s first permanent cat cafe, is within walking distance. It also happens to be one of several non-profit groups where Sarah has volunteered her design work. Other than the lamentable absence of a cat, I can imagine that an ideal evening would be spent in Sarah and Matthew’s gorgeous home, listening to their records, sipping Matthew’s flawlessly mixed cocktails, all while coveting that unbelievable crown molding. And, of course, toasting Sarah on her courageous and inspired decision to reimagine her life.
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: This Austin home turned an unused closet space into a modern bunk bed + trundle combo. The blackboard back wall is a fun touch and a great way for kids to create their own personalized space.
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