Fresh Beginnings: Studio B
The devastating fire that destroyed Betsy Wentz’s Sewickley interior-design studio only ignited her passion to turn up the heat on Studio B.
On a mid-September day last fall, Betsy Wentz, designer and co-owner of Studio B :: Kay Wiegand Interior Design (Studio B), lead a photo shoot inside Kay Wiegand’s kitchen. Wiegand is the founder of Kay Wiegand Interior Design, co-owner of Studio B and Betsy’s mother. She started the family business 34 years ago and formed a mother-daughter design team in 2001. Originally, the Sewickley-based business was located in the garage apartment above the carriage house attached to the Wiegands’ home, a historic building that was once an all-girls’ school in the late 1800s.
For the past 30 years, the Wiegands called the 130-year-old structure home—until Sept. 15, when Wentz, Wiegand and their photographer were photographing Wiegand’s remodeled kitchen. The eldest of Wentz’s three kids told her that he heard crackling in the far end of the kitchen. The family evacuated immediately, and an electrical fire burned down the home along with portions of the carriage house.
Right away, Wentz began her search for a viable place to reopen their interior-design space to salvage what remained after the fire.
“I [visited] the third-floor storage space above the old Select Food Market on Beaver [Street] as an option to rent,” says Wentz. They had to revamp the entire floor, and it took weeks to move. “During this transition period, vendors gave us merchandise at [a] low cost,” recalls Wentz.
Friends and family members helped during the transition, going back and forth to bring every fabric and wallpaper book to the new space. Within six weeks, fresh wallpaper covered the walls, and new carpeting was installed. “It was like magic,” says Wentz. By early October, Wentz reopened her 2,000-square-foot showroom as a full-service interior-design firm (with a specialty in fabric and color) in the heart of Sewickley Village, showcasing modern fabrics, wall coverings, furniture and accessories.
“The space in the new studio allows opportunity to host clients to a collaborative and interactive experience—there’s a simple psychology behind allowing clients to have ownership in the design,” explains Wentz.
Wentz knows about psychology: She earned her masters degree in the subject from the University of Pittsburgh, where she met her husband, Chris, who’s a physician. Shortly after Wentz and her husband married, she knew she wanted to have a family soon, so she decided it was time to make a career change. She approached her mother and said, “I’ve watched you design all my life. Do you think I could do this?” Wiegand fully supported the idea of Wentz joining her business. Wentz partnered with her mom 10 years ago and has never looked back.
A look at Studio B’s interactive philosophy begins with navigating through its five rooms (excluding Wentz’s private office), hosting clients to The Work Room, The Upholstery Room, Brainstorming Room, Fun Room and Wallpaper Room.
“I’m happy that we have the space to do what we’re doing, and we’re growing,” says Wentz, “I want to spread the news like wild fire, ironically! It’s a fresh start, and I love it.”
Studio B, 510 1/2 Beaver St., Sewickley; 412/741-4445, studiobsewickley.com.