Designing a Happy Home Gets Practical with Betsy Wentz’s New Book
The Sewickley-based interior designer’s new book, “Design Happy,” is a colorful guide on how to design your home like a pro.
Known for her bold color and pattern choices, Sewickley-based interior designer Betsy Wentz, whose clients can be found across the country, had never really thought about putting out a design table top book — until the coronavirus pandemic.
Stuck in the house, with no timeline on when socialization would resume, she says the idea of writing a book about making your interiors beautiful, which was presented to her by her PR agent, struck a chord.
“I thought that was really funny because I’m not an author and didn’t see myself as someone who would write a book,” Wentz says. “But it started to make sense.”
The result was “Design Happy: Colorful Homes for the Modern Family.” Serving as a practical guide for designing a bright, family-friendly home, the 224-page tome, available now for presale, is slated to hit bookshelves in April.
Each of the book’s 13 chapters is dedicated to a different project that Wentz worked on over the last few years, among them homes around Pittsburgh, Palm Beach, Fla. and Blue Hill, Maine.
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Along with color studies, design lessons and pro tips — including specific paint colors and fabrics that Wentz used — each chapter tells the story behind the projects, the families who live there and how Wentz made the home work for them.
“More often than not, I found myself remembering clients and the people and how they drove it to be the best,” Wentz says of writing the book. “At the end of the day it’s all about the relationship you have with the clients. It’s a collaboration; I don’t do these projects on my own”
Also scattered throughout “Design Happy” is what Wentz calls her Betsy-isms, such as the importance of creating foot traffic patterns around furniture, how to scale lighting properly and, mostly notably, her insistence that something in the room has to be the practical khaki pants in order to let the stars of the design shine.
“When you’re getting dressed, you don’t put on every fabulous thing you own at once,” Wentz explains. “Something has to be the everyday khaki pants or the blue jeans. That’s what creates contrast and makes things beautiful.”
The book’s forward was written by Wentz’s friend Tori Mellott, style director at Frederic Magazine and a Pittsburgh native. The dedication is to Wentz’s mom, Kay Wiegand, who died in 2020 of Alzheimer’s disease.
An interior designer herself, Wiegand had her own studio in the carriage home of the property Wentz grew up on in Edgeworth. Wentz says everything she learned about interior design came from her mother. For a time, the women worked together before Wentz, a mother of four, went on to open her Studio B design studio and showroom in Sewickley in 2011.
Wentz calls “Design Happy” a symbol of what she has accomplished throughout her years in design, even as she grappled with the loss of her mother during its production.
“I found myself really choked up when I got to hold the book,” she says. “So much of her is in my work. To hold it and to look at this book, it’s an incredible legacy to her if nothing else.”