Every now and again, we like to check in with our team members and take a deeper dive into their passion, process, and direction. This week we caught up with AID owner, and our favorite source of inspiration, Betsy Helmuth.
You care a lot about making exceptional home design accessible to all. Why is this so important to you?
It's really important to me to share my tips and make the world of interior design completely transparent, because I feel for too long the field has been somewhat elitist. It has been something that is only accessible for people who are wealthy — people who can afford to hire an interior designer — and yet everyone should live in a home that they're proud of.
Now, more than ever, there are beautiful items on the retail market. You can buy furniture and accessories that look just as good as what you would find in high-end boutiques. That was not the case 20 years ago. The landscape has totally changed.
Interior design can be accessible. People are very interested, but so many of them just don't know the rules. I personally do not feel you need a designer. Anyone who knows a few simple rules can have a well-appointed home.
I look to my clients. I have them fill out a questionnaire ahead of time so that I can clearly understand their style preferences but also understand the challenges that they're facing. Then I ask them questions about the answers that they've given. I want to know what the problems are and what they like.
I’ve used the metaphor of a painter who is painting a still life. When you're painting a vase of flowers and you're feeling uninspired, all you need to do is look back at that vase of flowers — look more deeply at the rose petals. Look for that shine on that side of the vase. The inspiration is there! Just look more closely.
That's exactly what I do with my clients when I'm feeling uninspired or when I don't know what to choose. I just go more deeply into their questionnaire, looking at their answers, understanding what they've told me and who they are.
What do you do when you are faced with an empty room?
I always begin with one question: What do you want to do in this room? What are the functions that this room needs to perform? Form should always follow function.
Is there a design rule that you always follow?
The design rule I always follow is that I do not mix warm and cool metals. Cool metals are nickels, silvers, pewters, chromes. Warm metals are coppers, golds, brasses. I don’t use them both in one room. I stick to only cool or only warm.
The only other metals that I will mix with them are black metals or wrought irons. I happily mix black or wrought iron metals with both cool metals and warm metals.
What is your favorite room to design?
In the city, my favorite room to design is a studio apartment. I love designing studio apartments because they have so many functions to perform. You have to be strategic. You have to think more critically. You can't just have pretty things for the sake of having things. And I really love the challenge in that. Not to mention the fact that I lived in seven studio apartments over the course of my life, ranging from 150 square feet all the way to 500 square feet. And each one had its challenges and opportunities.
In the suburbs, I love to design living rooms because they can really be impressive showpieces that reflect a client’s personality.
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