Some interior designers just catch your eye and your inspiration. In viewing their work you feel mini light bulbs going off in your head, telling you that “that is how it is supposed to be done” or “that is how it works.” They pull things together in ways that make it look so effortless, so natural.
Known as one of New York's finest interior designers, the award-winning Betty Wasserman is one such interior designer. I first noticed her designs in the pages of the prestigious Interior Design Magazine. Each of her projects is of a different mold, yet the integrity of her designs is clear. What they have in common, beyond all being drool-worthy, is her masterful use of colors, space, textures, materials, and art. No one integrates art in interior design like Betty does!
Betty is an established high-end residential interior designer, specializing in everything from new construction to renovation to decor and furnishings. Her firm has been labeled a “one stop shopping” haven for their clients, referring to their expertise of simultaneously working on interior design as well as the client’s art collection.
Fortunate for us all, Betty has generously shared her time with me and has given us a sneak peak into her life as a designer, her favorite places to shop, and what design trends she sees coming out on top this year.
So, without further ado, I welcome Betty!
Q: Hi Betty. As you know from past correspondence, I LOVE your designs. And, I am super eager to hear more about what goes on behind the scenes. Your portfolio shows palatial estates and Manhattan condos- two very different spaces.
When you first see a place what is the first element you envision?
Betty: I start by listening to the needs of the owner or family. I try to understand their program, how they live, how they entertain, how the space needs to work for them, and the required functionality. My initial approach is very pragmatic. Once I understand how the furniture will lay out and where the lighting has to be, let’s say to highlight specific artworks, or circulation flow, then I can begin to see the next layers, colors, cabinetry woods, rugs, etc.
Sometimes the first element I need to address is a problem element, such as an unfortunate column, a shaft window, an unseemly banquette, cheap windows, or too many little rooms that need to be opened up. Or, it could be that there are too many different floorings going on at once, or that the overall ceiling doesn’t work together from space to space, outdated fixtures (both lighting and plumbing), or appliances from the year of the flood! These are all what I call the "eyesore issues," which typically get addressed immediately - just like a misbehaving child, they tend to get the attention they are seeking!
Once the larger issues are dealt with, then we can relax, and move into the more fun stuff, the FF&E (furniture, fixtures, and other equipment), and the overall look. When we have made it to bedding, art, and accessories, then I know we have fully restored the home and are approaching the finish line!
Q: What design trend would you like to see more of?
Betty: Personally, I like design that is not super trendy, or that will look tired in 5 years. While I love modern and current pieces, I also prefer something that will maintain it’s look over time. Perhaps I don’t really like trend per say, however, having said that, I do love the use of all the copper recently. I have included copper in some of our current projects, primarily in the accessories, a leg on a bar stool, or a detail on a light fixture, but that is all. Generally speaking, those are not terribly hard to replace if they become outdated over time.
Image Source : Betty Wasserman Art & Interiors
Q: What excites you about the design industry these days?
Betty: What excites me is working on ways to bring a fresh and new look to things. For example, we all need countertops and backsplashes, but having them shift ever so slightly to change it up is always refreshing. I am always looking for ways to do things differently! I love a waterfall countertop, a wooden backsplash, or mixing stones that would not normally be mixed, which is all fun and refreshing. Bringing color into the kitchen is also my new passion. We are doing a Ming green kitchen in a very large apartment on Park Avenue, and it is going to be amazing! We also added colorful stools, which are easy to change if the client gets bored later on with the color, but for now, they are really fun!
I am also excited about Landscape Design right now. For instance, the landscapes in
The Hamptons may have similarities between them, yet each one can be so fascinating in their own way. One project we are doing in Sagaponack has a terrific landscape architecture team that we are collaborating with, and it is going to be incredibly beautiful when all said and done; outdoor kitchen, dining, a fire pit, several covered spaces, an infinity pool, beautiful trees, and pathways, it is full of endless beauty!
Q: Who are some interior designers that you find inspiration from?
Betty: I just LOVE how much fun Jamie Drake has with color - particularly pinks and purples - I really enjoy looking at his designs!
Here is one such example of his:
Image Source : Drake Design Associates
Q: Where do you like to do your design shopping in NYC?
Betty: We generally use LOTS of resources in New York City since there are so many; to start we take clients to 200 LEX, NYDC, The D&D Building at 979 Third, and we love Ralph Pucci’s showroom downtown. We also shop at the many Soho design shops, DDC, Minotti, sometimes Fendi, and always the internet! The path to shopping is often driven by the client’s taste, their budget, or the amount of time we have on a given day. Some places take much longer than others to get through, so we try to split it up and keep it fun for everyone involved!
Q: Tell us a bit about the differences that you experience between designing in New York City and The Hamptons?
Betty: A Hamptons home is a weekend or summer place--there is less demand for storage or heavy usage of any particular aspect of the home. Generally, we are more concerned with how to entertain weekend guests, and how to design for large groups, dinner parties, and events. These are less of a priority when dealing with a NYC residence.
A home in New York City usually has to have multi-functional spaces due to having less square feet. Apartments are generally smaller than homes, so there is no surprise that a room devoted to office space, may also have to double as a guest room or a gym! Sometimes a living room has to transform into a guest bedroom, so that has its challenges, but we have done it! Home offices are more and more popular with people working from home full-time, or even part-time. So these kinds of considerations will change the approach to certain rooms and spaces. Storage is very important for most people, and finding every crevice and using it efficiently is critical to a city apartment design - particularly for families.
A challenge for designing a New York City home compared to a Hamptons home is that the homeowners may have different priorities. Not only in terms of how quickly you can finish the design, as you may be putting a family out when the children have to attend school on a certain schedule, but also if the owners have careers that are demanding and require their home life to be serene and organized. The worst case in The Hamptons, if a project runs over or something is not completed, is that they may lose a weekend, or not be able to have guests for another week or two--these are less stressful when working on a project out East.
Image Source : Betty Wasserman Art & Interiors
Thank you Betty for sharing so generously with me today. I know you are a super busy, in-demand designer, and I appreciate you taking some time to share with your fans!
To learn more about Betty Wasserman Art & Interiors and see their portfolio, visit their website and follow them on Houzz
I hope you enjoyed hearing from Betty as much as enjoyed interviewing her! I hope some of her design greatness rubbed off on me!