“It was such a great collaboration,” says the designer Betsy Wentz from his latest project in Bunker Hill, Pennsylvania. It wasn’t me just telling a client that was the way it should be.
It was the third home Wentz had made for the owners, and during their work together, their families became close — “our oldest sons are best friends,” she reveals. Plus, her client “has incredible taste herself, and even a degree in design. The family brought many pieces from their previous homes, including a large collection of antiques and “wonderful stacking pieces,” she notes.
They also had a good number of Western art and antiques, including a Chipperfield sofa, an original Remington, dishes from several generations and “someone’s grandfather’s 180-year-old trunk”, se remembers Wentz. “You can’t just buy something like that.”
For this project – a large stone mansion on the sixth hole of a high-rise golf course – Wentz was able to “push her [client] to try things that made her nervous and accept it when something was exactly what she wanted”, for example, opting for a more neutral and nature-oriented color palette rather than “fun with nature”. Wentz’s usual color. (Admittedly, the traditional house still has lively accents.)
Now, she says, “When we go to dinner, I think about how we figured it all out together. It’s part of her and part of me. The compromises were perfect.
Visit the entire residence below.
“I wanted a stripe, but she wanted something functional and clean and natural,” Wentz says of the compromise that resulted in brown sisal on the stairs. The client’s father’s Remington is solid and heavy. “I hope you like where it is,” Wentz recalled with a laugh to his client.
Carpet: old. Sculpture: Frederick Remington in solid bronze, “Coming Thru The Rye”. Chest: antique. Stair Runner: Rigid. To paint: White Dove, Benjamin Moore.
The living room
“She wanted it to be white,” Wentz says of her client. “We fought for this!” But soon, a green plaid pouf became a key part of the room, and the rest evolved from there. The other challenge was that he gave openings – not a lot of long wall space for the piano or other wide furniture. The sofa came from the client’s father, so it was important that he incorporate it, but solved the rest of the design puzzle with custom sofas upholstered in performance fabric to withstand the teenagers and the dogs in the family.
Canapes: private label custom, covered with JF fabrics. Carpet: Rigid. Couch: vintage Ralph Lauren. Ottomanot : made to measure, covered with Harlequin fabric. Chandelier: Home Interiors. Drapery: Harlequin. Beverage chart: Andreu World. sconces: Urban Electricity. Trays: Manufactured products. living room painting: Jorge Braun Tarallo.
“This piece has so much character,” she says. “It’s become one of their favorite spaces.” It was a paneled room, but Wentz made it stand out with dark teal paint, a color that was “warm, fun, and just the right color to anchor the space. She had to work from a “big old leather sofa”, but added a new animal print pouf to make it look modern.
Pnot: Slate Teal, Benjamin Moore. Drapery: Clarke and Clarke. Carpet: old. Ottoman: personalized, covered with a Thibaut animal print. Leather couch: vintage, Four Hands.
Behind the kitchen, this space now serves as the “center of the house,” says Wentz. She added patio doors for entertaining, making the space “lovely yet functional.” Since she was working with existing furniture, in order to give this room a fresh feel, she started with the wallcovering, 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, DR Dimes. Buffet: old. Art: B.Stephens. sconces: Urban Electricity.
The expansion of the kitchen footprint was one of the biggest architectural overhauls to the house. The zinc fixtures above the new kitchen island were the same ones the designer and client had chosen for the dining room of a previous home, and how they decided to put an identical set in the kitchen. “It’s fun and it looks great,” Wentz says.
Iisland pendants: Urban Electric zinc finish. hood: The itinerant metal merchant. Counter stools: Four hands. Runners: old. Table: Wooden whale. Bantique cushions: made to measure, covered with Perennials fabric. Pillows: Villa Nova fabrics. Tile: Splash showrooms.
Wentz added color and played with a pink and red rug and a painting of the family dogs. “It really is a locker room. Dogs come in and out all day. It shows how great a fun yet functional piece can look.
Paint:Tom Mosser. Carpet: old. Basket: pioneer linens. Ceiling: Reclaimed wood. Bench: antiquity.
It was “a big space with odd angles” under the vaulted ceilings, “but it turned out so cool”. Textured wallpaper in a creamy white color warmed up the space.
Wallpaper: Elite. Carpet: Rigid. Nightstand: Antiquity. Lamps: Home Interiors. Drapery: Romo fabrics. Bedding: pioneer linens. Bench: covered with Schumacher fabric. Art: Tele carrier.
Floral wallpaper is a compromise that Wentz “had to work hard for,” she reveals. “She had reservations, but I pushed her because I like how fun it is. And it has a great light. I like the way it turned out.
Wallpaper: Elite. Cabinetmaking: Customs.
With the eldest son at university, there is a teenager living at home. His room was cramped, with a strange slope in 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 bedroom can be both beautiful and meaningful. You don’t have to put everything in a drawer.
Drapery: Nina Campbell. Carpet: Starck.
Wentz lets this simple bedroom speak for itself, with its strong navy blue hue and flowery bathroom.
To paint: New York State of Mind, Benjamin Moore. Carpet: JF Kashanyan. Chest: Anthropology.
Backyard and patio
“The back is where they live,” Wentz says, noting the effort that has gone into the centerpiece: the pool. The house was built in 1952 by a steel executive, and he installed a steel pool, you guessed it. It had to be removed by welders, and last year it was finally replaced with a more contemporary Gunnite pool
The rest of the outdoor space is “such a lovely setting with its large fire pit and very functional,” notes Wentz.
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