Betsy Brown quickly discerned something about her client: “She is at the core of a lot of life.” Indeed, the homeowner, who had lived in a house in Mountain Brook—a leafy, venerable suburb of Birmingham—for some 27 years, had a personality and presence so effervescent that Brown wanted to fashion rooms that responded to those admirable character traits. “She has lots of children, lots of friends, and her grandchildren are always there,” says Brown. “She’s a warm, caring, positive person. I always feel it’s my job as a designer to make a client feel that it’s their life in their home.”
Brown has the ability to read not only the ways the rooms of a house should be furnished, but also how the individual elements need to collectively reflect the owner. In her initial discussions with the client, Brown was struck by the woman’s authenticity. “While it’s hard for some people to explain to a designer the elements that would be authentic for them, that really reflect who they are, this client doesn’t have the problem. She has informed opinions and she’s the kind of person that I can learn something from, even though I’ve been in this business for a long time.”
For this new home, not far from the old one the client had occupied, Brown collaborated, as she has many times in the past, with local architect Paul Bates. Although Bates had not worked before with the client, he had met her—and had long admired her for her sheer engagement in the life of the city and in her family. “I had been told, almost mysteriously, that I might be doing a house for her one day,” he recalls. “And it came true.”
To read the complete story or to see all photos, visit the MILIEU Newsstand to purchase this issue in print or visit Zinio.com to purchase this issue in digital format.
INTERIOR DESIGN BY BETSY BROWN
ARCHITECTURE BY PAUL BATES
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHADE DEGGES
WRITTEN BY DAVID MASELLO
This story appeared in the Spring 2023 issue of MILIEU.