I flip through a lot of home design books in this job. Frankly, most run together. Betsy Wentz’s “Design Happy ─ Colorful Homes for the Modern Family” (available Feb. 21, Gibbs Smith Publishing) stands out as the exception.
All the interiors featured in the book’s photo-filled 224 pages jump out for their bright, unapologetic use of color.
“You can do that?” I thought.
Yes, you can. Well, at least Wentz can.
Wentz, 49, grew up working alongside her mother, an interior designer who ran a design shop out of the family home. Wentz pursued a career in psychology and after working as a counselor, came back and partnered with her mentor mom in 2001. When her mother retired 10 years later, Wentz rebranded and launched her own studio near Pittsburgh.
A designer trained as a counselor. This makes perfect sense.
But back to the book. Of all the traits I admire in designers, creative courage tops my list, and Wentz has this gift in (paint) buckets.
I mean, this woman did not pause before covering an heirloom antique wooden grandfather clock ─ which let’s face it, few people really want in their homes anymore ─ with bright yellow citron lacquer paint, which made everyone in the family fall in love with it.
So, I called Wentz, who, proved just as colorful in conversation:
Q. You have a master’s degree in counseling psychology and were a behavioral therapist before starting a design firm. How do those two worlds relate?
A. At first, I didn’t think there was any correlation, but in fact, I use that degree every day. Designing someone’s home becomes very personal. From the moment you start working with someone, building that relationship is imperative, because that people piece is what makes a project