Betsy Wentz Transforms an Old Stone Home into a Welcoming Abode Filled with Western Art and Antiques
“It was such a nice collaboration," says designer Betsy Wentz of her latest project in Pennsylvania. It wasn’t me just telling a client that this is how it should be.”
This was the third house that Wentz had done for the homeowners, and over the course of working together, their families became close—“our oldest sons are best friends," she reveals. In addition, her client “has amazing taste herself, and even a design degree. The family brought many pieces from their previous homes, including a large collection of antiques and “wonderful pieces to layer,” she notes.
They also had a good number of Western art and antiques, including a Chipperfield sofa, an original Remington, dishes from many generations, and “a 180-year-old trunk from someone’s grandfather," Wentz recalls. "You can’t just buy something like that.”
For this project—a large stone abode on the sixth hole of a golf course in the Heights—Wentz was able to “push her [client] to try things that she was nervous about, and to accept it when something was just how she wanted it”—for example, going for a more neutral, nature-driven color palette rather than Wentz’s usual “fun with color.” (To be sure, the traditional house still has some vivid accents.)
Now, she says, “When we go over for dinner, I think about how we figured it all out together. It’s parts of her and parts of me. The compromises were perfect.”
Tour the entire residence below.
“I wanted a stripe, but she wanted something functional, clean, and natural,” says Wentz of the compromise that resulted in the brown sisal on the stairs. The client’s father’s Remington is solid and heavy. “I hope you like where it is,” Wentz recalls telling her client with a laugh.
Rug: vintage. Sculpture: Frederick Remington in solid bronze, “Coming Thru The Rye.” Chest: antique. Stair runner: Stark. Paint: White Dove, Benjamin Moore.
“She wanted it to be white,” says Wentz of her client. “We battled over this!” But soon a green plaid ottoman became a key piece in the room, and the rest evolved from there. The other challenge was that it had give openings—not a lot of long wall space for the piano or other wide furniture. The settee was from the client’s father, so it was important that they incorporate it, but solved the rest of the design puzzle with custom sofas covered in performance fabric to stand up to the family’s teenagers and dogs.
Sofas: private label custom, covered in JF fabrics. Rug: Stark. Settee: vintage Ralph Lauren. Ottoman: custom, covered in Harlequin fabric. Chandelier: Arteriors Home. Drapery: Harlequin. Drinks table: Andreu World. Sconces: Urban Electric. Trays: Made Goods. Saloon Painting: Jorge Braun Tarallo.
“This room has so much character,” she says. “It became one of their favorite spaces.” It was a wood-paneled room, but Wentz made it pop with deep teal paint—a color that’s “warm, fun, and the right color to ground the space. She had to work in a “big old leather sofa” but added a new, animal print ottoman to make it modern.
Paint: Slate Teal, Benjamin Moore. Drapery: Clarke and Clarke. Rug: vintage. Ottoman: custom, covered in Thibaut animal print. Leather sofa: vintage, Four Hands.
Behind the kitchen, this space now serves as “the center of the house,” Wentz says. She added French doors for entertaining, making the space “lovely but functional.” Since she was working with existing furnishings, in order to make this room feel new, she started with the wall covering, choosing a metallic green grasscloth that allows the couple’s art to “jump off the wall.”
Wall covering: Kravet metallic grasscloth. Table: vintage, Wright Table Co. Dining chairs: vintage, D.R. Dimes. Sideboard: vintage. Art: B. Stephens. Sconces: Urban Electric.
Enlarging the footprint of the kitchen was one of the biggest architectural revisions to the house. The zinc lighting fixtures above the new kitchen island were the same ones the designer and client had chosen for the dining room in a previous house, and how they decided to put an identical set in the kitchen. “It’s fun and looks great,” says Wentz.
Island pendants: Urban Electric zinc finish. Hood: The Metal Peddler. Counter stools: Four Hands. Runners: vintage. Table: Wooden Whale. Banquette cushions: custom, covered in Perennials fabric. Pillows: Villa Nova fabrics. Tile: Splash Showrooms.
Wentz added color and play with a pink-and-red rug and a painting of the family’s dogs. “It’s truly a mudroom. The dogs go in and out all day. It shows how a fun but functional room can look great.”
Painting: Tom Mosser. Rugs: vintage. Basket: Pioneer Linens. Ceiling: Reclaimed wood. Bench: antique.
This was “a large space with odd angles” beneath the vaulted ceilings, “but it turned out so fresh.” The textured wallpaper in a creamy white color warmed up the space.
Wallpaper: Elitis. Rug: Stark. Nightstand: Antique. Lamps: Arteriors Home. Drapery: Romo fabrics. Bedding: Pioneer Linens. Bench: covered in Schumacher fabric. Art: Porter Teleo.
The floral wallpaper is a compromise that Wentz “had to work hard for," she reveals. "She had reservations, but I pushed her because I love how fun this is. And it has great light. I love the way it turned out.”
Wallpaper: Elitis. Cabinetry: custom.
With the older son away at college, there’s one teenage boy living at home. His room was limiting, with an odd pitch to the ceiling. Wentz compensated by adding swing-arm sconces and a “fun rug” that complements the boy’s hockey memorabilia. “It’s a great example of how a teenager’s room can be beautiful and meaningful at the same time. You don’t have to shove everything into a drawer.”
Drapery: Nina Campbell. Rug: Stark.
Wentz lets this simple room speak for itself, with its strong navy blue hue and floral bathroom.
Paint: New York State of Mind, Benjamin Moore. Rug: JF Kashanian. Chest: Anthropologie.
Backyard and Patio
"Out back is where they live," says Wentz, pointing out the effort that went into the centerpiece: the swimming pool. The house was built in 1952 by a steel executive, and he installed a pool made of—you guessed it—steel. It had to be removed by welders, and last year it was finally replaced by a more contemporary gunnite pool
The rest of the outdoor area is "such a pretty setting with its big fire pit—and highly functional," Wentz notes.
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