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A Victorian Carriage House And Barn Become A Home And Studio For a Textile Designer And Her Family

by Rebekah Carey

Keeping Such A Big Open Space Cohesive Meant White With Lots Of Color Added Throughout On Design*Sponge

Betsy and Peter Olmsted share their home with their two boys Emmett (7) and Wells (4), as well as Winnie the mature-madam shepherd mix, Hank the French bulldog, and Archer the leopard gecko. Their home was originally a Victorian carriage house and barn that was used for three neighboring mansions, built in 1890 when it also had three deeds. The 5,400-square-foot home was created from the converted spaces in 2008, and the Olmsted family moved in and made it their own a year ago. The downstairs features an open plan, their den, and the attached stables that became The Betsy Olmsted Design Studio — Betsy’s namesake textile company, Betsy Olmsted, which features a line of printed vibrant watercolor infused textile housewares with her whimsically sophisticated illustrations (which are heavily inspired by animals and nature). Upstairs you’ll find more open spaces, three bedrooms and baths, a study, and even a screened-in sleeping porch.

Betsy and Peter have kept close to their love story, literally: they met in college, married in Saratoga Springs, NY, and now their home is just down the street from their alma mater. The family was planning to relocate to be closer to Peter’s job and had one weekend to find their house; coming back to their college hometown was a happy byproduct. Despite the varying styles of homes they toured, Peter and Betsy knew the moment they stepped into their now home that it was “the one.” Betsy had actually always wanted to live in a barn, and loved how open the spaces were. The fact that it was somehow an in-town barn made walking to restaurants and shops incredibly convenient, it had a space for an on-site design studio as well — it was the perfect fit.

While the bones of the home were heavenly (while sitting in the living room you can look up and see all the way through the cupola) the style felt a little more like a lodge than a home. So, the timbers and doors and windows were all painted white (Benjamin Moore “Linen White”), in a terrifying process using plywood sheets and ladders to reach the some 40 feet up. Iron balusters were updated with steel cable and tempered glass. In Betsy’s studio, she took the dark green former stables and painted everything white and added casements under the window to allow for more natural light in the somewhat cave-like space. The last vestige of the lodge feel for Betsy and Peter is their fireplace, and because of the scale, it will take a while for them to figure out what the perfect replacement will be. While the open spaces were something Betsy had dreamed of, and one of her favorite features, they do create the design challenge of being able to see everything from one end of the house to the other. Betsy had to make sure when she was designing the space that everything felt cohesive. Scale is also a key design element in their home — pieces that once felt huge in their last home were now dwarfed in the massive barn house.

Creating a space that was colorful, informal, incorporated furniture inherited from Betsy’s grandparents (traditional on one side and mid-century from the other), and that could handle two wild boys, was essential. Betsy is most thankful for the former stables that became her studio, originally thinking that she would have to rent a studio before they found their home. Betsy explains, “The feeling of old time past and rustic white wood are so brand-friendly. It’s a luxury to work while the boys are home and at night without leaving the house. I also bring them into the studio to make projects like tie dying and painting. Plus I like for them to be exposed daily to my work and to art and design — I hope to inspire them.” She also never takes the open space for granted, especially during the long winters. Betsy adds, “They run around, build obstacle courses, and shoot Nerf bullets all over the place. It really helps keep them ‘out of my bubble’ and I can see everything they’re doing while cooking, etc.”

The Olmsted family has no shortage of interests and activities they like to partake in; for Betsy it’s design and art, gardening (their neighborhood allows for supporting local farms and produce, too), yoga, and scoring vintage finds. Peter’s work is in energy policy and he is an advocate for sustainable energy and enjoys cycling and outdoor adventuring. Their seven-year-old, Emmett, loves nature (especially rocks and fossils at the moment) and animals. Last but not least, Wells loves track suits, costumes and his favorite gold high-tops. We can only imagine how much fun this family will have creating art and memories together in this inspiring space. Rebekah

Photography by Elizabeth Haynes

Image above: “This is where you can really see our railings makeover,” Betsy shares. “We love it! Door to the left is the Betsy Olmsted Textile Studio. To the right is the kitchen. The unpainted wood on the second floor is original to the structure, including the grey shiplap.”


First Floor


-stools: Schoolhouse Electric
-painting: Hubbard Squash painting by Kate Edwards
-runner: Betsy Olmsted
-tea towels: hand dyed by Betsy and her son, Wells
-faucet: delta trinsic (in champagne)
-shelf brackets: Rejuvenation
-cabinet hardware: Schoolhouse Electric
-wooden board: Jonathan Colon
-canister: Liberty for Target
-mugs: Fiestaware
-cappuccino and espresso mugs: iittala
-donuts painting: Larry Preston

dining area

-chandelier: custom by Lou Blass in Hudson, New York
-painting on sideboard: Lucy Kettlewell
-mixed chairs: Thonet, Nagashima, and Eames — all vintage finds

bar cart

-oyster plates: Two’s Company reproductions
-painting: Lancaster, Pennsylvania artist Fred Rogers
-pickle jar: Victorian
-elephant: was Betsy’s Grandfather’s
-cart: vintage

kid’s table
-print: Farm Barge by Tugboat Printshop
-banner: Oh Beautiful by Betsy Olmsted

living room

-mirror: vintage
-club chairs: inherited from Betsy’s Grandparents
-arco lamp: vintage
-ottomans: one from Homegoods and closest match from Houzz
-coffee table: Herman Miller
-large painting: Joanna Davis Seedorf in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (Betsy’s special sister-like friend)
-sectional: vintage
-Shibori pillows: made by Betsy and the boys
-Astrology pillows: Betsy Olmsted (displayed are one sign for each family member)
-orange stools: inherited from Betsy’s grandparents
-Danish wall unit: from Betsy’s dad’s childhood bedroom
-Foo lion and coral: Emmett’s prize yard sale finds
-ceramic vessel and animals: Round Designs
-glow-in-the-dark Lady of Fatima: A travel find from a trip to Fatima, Portugal that Betsy took
-pillow: feather pillow from Betsy Olmsted
-magenta throw: another treasure Betsy picked up, this time in India
-chair: from Betsy’s grandparents in original fabric


-sofa: togo by Ligne Roset (Betsy dreamed about this for 11 years before the couple agreed to purchase it for their new home — in iconic 70s orange of course!)
-Eames chair: original 60s from Betsy’s grandparents — Betsy shares, “this was Gampa’s chair. He always sat in it eating nuts with an old fashioned cracker watching sports.”
-Floor Cushions: custom with Betsy Olmsted fabric
-dog portraits: from Betsy’s mother’s childhood dogs
-map: (large) Tugboat Printshop
-Eames chair pillow: made by Betsy with handprinted fabric
-printed wool scarf/shawl: Betsy Olmsted
-coffee table: CB2
-science books: vintage


-fixtures: color cord company
-flag: handmade, hand dyed, authentic American flag by Betsy Olmsted
-Danish bookcase: found for free on a corner in downtown Saratoga
-lucite chairs: vinage find
-apron hanging in dye kitchen: Abstract pinafore by Betsy Olmsted
-original painting: agate stripe inspired by both layers of rock and aerial views
-hanging works are originals from Betsy’s design archive hung for inspiration and for further developing collections.
-Betsy’s book: Hand Printing Studio by Betsy Olmsted from Stash Books photographed by Sara Code Kroll

Second Floor

play loft & children’s library

-He-Man and She-Ra: from Betsy’s childhood
-block set: Girard
-sofa: recovered find from eBay
-wall art: “Meeting in the Woods” Betsy Olmsted for Oopsy Daisy
-light fixtures: Schoolhouse Electric
-baby monster: cotton monster 

second floor bookshelves

-chair: flea market find recovered in vinyl
-pillow: Hedgehogs Pillow: Betsy Olmsted
-shelves: CB2
-rug: West Elm Outlet Store

Emmett’s room

-bunk bed: Land of Nod
-Column screen print: by family friend and artist Clayton Pond
-quilt: designed by Betsy from her organic cotton collection Ramble and Roost for Clothworks, quilted by Mandelai Quilts
-little fox pillow: by Betsy Olmsted
-Danish shelf unit: from Betsy’s grandparents’ house
-Native American figure: from Betsy’s mother’s father
-robot print: Pancakes for Breakfast
-80s plastic animal cell model: vintage find from Country Living Fair
-painted antler: Cassandra Smith
-painted trophy: from friends at Modern Art in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
-yellow dresser: from Betsy’s aunt’s childhood bedroom
-screen print: Gravure Printing Press by Clayton Pond. This is a small version of the huge original commissioned by Betsy’s father’s former family business, Motter Printing Press Company

Wells’ room

-headboards: vintage, from Betsy’s father’s childhood room
-bedframes: West Elm
-square pillows: Acid Knit by Betsy Olmsted
-screen prints: Clayton Pond

boys’ bathroom

-shower curtain: Windy Country by Betsy Olmsted for Deny Designs

master bedroom and lounge

-bedding: Abstract by Betsy Olmsted for Downtown Company
-pillows: Garden Stain Pillows by Betsy Olmsted
-sconces: Schoolhouse Electric
-bench: from Betsy’s mother’s family
-sofa: from Betsy’s father’s family recovered in Knoll fabric
-chairs: consignment store find
-secretary desk: from Betsy’s mother’s family
-painting: picked up from a Barcelona street artist while on honeymoon
-pillow: Flowering Squirrel by Betsy Olmsted
-wall hanging: purchased by Betsy while studying in India

Betsy And Peter's Colorful Dining Room Sneak Peek On Design*Sponge
"One of the selling perks of this house was imagining the family holidays and gatherings here! Both the Olmsteds and the Motter families gathered for Thanksgiving last year and we were able to seat everyone with the addition of a kids table. Daily we use the table for eating, reading the paper, games, and Legos. The barn doors actually slide open," Betsy shares.
Betsy And Peter's Bar Cart Stocked With Vintage Details In Their Sneak Peek On Design*Sponge
"A bar cart made the most sense to fit onto the low wall to add some interest and have a place to store our cocktail making tools."
One Of The Only Spots You'll Find Darker Colors In The Olmsted's Home On Design*Sponge
"We spend tons of time hanging around the huge island. We entertain and I can watch the boys while cooking. I shuck oysters here a lot - Emmett loves them! This is our main gathering place for entertaining," Betsy explains.
Kitchen Details In This Saratoga Springs Home On Design*Sponge
Betsy gives an added benefit to their kitchen color, "We love how the colors pop off of the black and how the black conceals kitchen mess."
A Colorful Kids Corner In This New York Home On Design*Sponge
This was Betsy’s play table when she was a child. "We painted it green. The second chair was sadly stolen along with our lemonade stand last summer. Wells loves to sit here and color," Betsy adds.
Overview Of The Olmsted Living Room On Design*Sponge
Betsy shares the truly special elements of their home, "This is my favorite space in the house. When sitting in here you can look the whole way up through the cupola so you have a sense of being outside. We spend lots of time indoors in the cold winter, so this feels restorative. We also gather and entertain in here complete with dogs and kids jumping around all over the place."
Vintage And Modern Meet In This Saratoga Springs Home On Design*Sponge
Betsy describes her style, "I like to mix mid-century, ethnic, and my own textiles together. I always need a little vibe from the 60s and 70s to feel at home. I also have a thing for tertiary colors."
The Olmsted's Pops Of Color Throughout Their New York Home On Design*Sponge
This home really is the perfect space for active kids, from nearly anywhere you sit in the house you can peek to see what they're up to.
Betsy And Peter's Son Was Very Proud Of This Garage Sale Find On Design*Sponge
"We wanted to add more blue and green to the living room, so we used the shelf as a way to do so," Betsy adds. She even purchased green flea market books to help.
Betsy Masters That Perfect 70s Orange In Their Saratoga Springs Den On Design*Sponge
Unique features add functionality. Betsy explains, "This is where we hang out and lounge to watch TV. We love that you can’t see the TV unless you’re on the sofa in here - it’s not visible from the main living area. And we can close off the room with sliding barn doors to contain noise."
Den Details From This Textile Designer's Home On Design*Sponge
Betsy admits that she had dreamed about this Ligne Roset sofa for about 11 years before the couple agreed to purchase it for their new home. Naturally, she had to have it in the iconic 70s orange!
The Upstairs Shows Clearly How The Home Used To Be A Carriage House On Design*Sponge
"This view really gives you a scene of the barn-like openness of the home. This is the upstairs play loft/children’s library area. Towards the left the framing is filled with glass into Wells' room, which keeps the room quiet but lets in light," Betsy explains.
A Kids Bookshelf Upstairs Displays Toys And Books In This Converted Carriage House On Design*Sponge
Colorful books, and even a few treasured toys from Betsy's childhood, fill the shelves of the kids' library upstairs.
The Perfect Nook For Reading Stories In The Playloft Of This New York State Home On Design*Sponge
A nook in the kids' play loft shows off the beautiful architecture, and it's a perfect spot for story reading.
A Perfect Reading Spot For The Grown-Ups In Betsy And Peter's Home On Design*Sponge
Betsy ensured that they would infuse the best elements of their last home into the new one, "Our old house had lots of built-ins, so when we moved we needed to install bookshelves. On display are our books, trinkets, novelties, family photos, kids art, and memorabilia. We add new things and change around often. I always notice if someone changes anything!"
One Of The Two Beautiful And Playful Kids Rooms Of This Saratoga Springs Home On Design*Spone
"When we have friends visit, all the kids bunk up in here," Betsy shares.
A Child's Collections And Treasures From This New York State Sneak Peek On Design*Sponge
Betsy describes her son's interests shown here, "This is where Archer the leopard gecko lives and where Emmett displays his collections and curiosities."
A Painted Vintage Dresser Highlights Colorful Art In This Kids Room On Design*Sponge
Another family treasure - this yellow dresser was in Betsy's aunt's childhood bedroom.
Headboards That Have Been In The Family For The Next Generation On Design*Sponge
Emmett's room features yet another amazing family treasure: the headboards were in Betsy's dad's childhood bedroom as well!
One Of Betsy's Own Designed Shower Curtains Adds Just The Right Dose Of Playfulness To The Boys' Bathroom On Design*Sponge
Betsy designed the colorful shower curtain hanging in the boys' bathroom.
The Master Bedroom Lounge From This Saratoga Springs Home On Design*Sponge
Betsy and Peter's master bedroom lounge area is incredibly inviting, "This sitting area is in our bedroom and we love that we have a place to hang out, free of the boys' stuff which seems to always be everywhere! We can sit and visit and quitely work and read - and sometimes hide."
A Betsy Olmsted (The Homeowner) Designed Bed Linens Add A Peaceful Palette To Their Master Bedroom On Design*Sponge
"This is our quiet respite from the rest of our busy house," she says of her bedroom.
The Betsy Olmsted Studio Which Is In The Attached Former Stables On Design*Sponge
Betsy in her studio with their beloved dog, Hank.
The Studios That Were Once Stables On Design*Sponge
Betsy describes her attached studio, "This is the converted stable, home to the Betsy Olmsted Textile Studio. The left bay is the dye kitchen. Center bay is the design area. Right bay is inventory and shipping. These are the original stable dividers and columns and concrete floors."
Colorful Details In Betsy Olmsted's Attached Studio On Design*Sponge
Betsy’s desk and workspace where she creates her watercolor designs that are then printed digitally on fabric.
Betsy And Peter Olmsted
Betsy shares what her family loves most about their home, "We love being together in the wide open spaces."

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  • I can’t stop looking at this house. I’m in love with the colours and design – would love to see the floor plan!

  • This is stunning! I am loving the artwork. And not related to the design but…what kind of a jerk steals a lemonade stand?! Well, your super cute kid ‘desk’ helped make lemonade out of lemons I suppose. :-)

  • Wow, this is so lovely! Colorful and bright, my dream home. I love everything about it. And I agree, who would steal a lemonade stand? Crazy! Anyway, fantastic home!

  • Beautiful home! I was absolutely amazed when I saw the artwork of the geese flying. My mom purchased that same piece several decades ago and it hangs on a wall in our cabin in northern Minnesota!! May I ask where you got it?