True Gem

After waiting years for the perfect home, one Raleigh couple landed a gem and called on Betsy Anderson to polish the corners.

WHEN SUZANNE AND BRENT RICE APPROACHED DESIGNER Betsy Anderson about designing the interiors of their new home, they had a clear picture of what they wanted. Frequent travelers and near empty nesters, the couple had spent  yearssearching for the right home. And when they found their true gem—an old English Tudor home, designed in 1928 by  distinguished architect William HenleyDeitrick—they called on Anderson to bring it back to life.

“The owner of the home was not living in it at thetime it went on the market,” Suzanne Rice recalls.  “Brent and I would drive by separately and together. We would walk the yard and sit on the porches; one of us would ride by and the other would be in the driveway contemplating what life would be like in this older, charming home. The house’s charm was inspiring.”

Well hidden off the street, the home was half the size of the custom home they built in the early 2000s, when they were raising children, and the couple felt it was idyllic for their new stage in life. “Betsy’s elegant simplicity was perfect for this time in our lives,” Rice says. “We were able to hang on to the most special pieces and make them work in the new space.”

“It was clear from the get-go that my clients were not willing to sacrifice charm, a mature and beautiful lot, or the perfect location,” Anderson says. “I’ve been acquainted with them for years, and with an inside-the-beltline locale and beautiful walking paths they’ve grown accustomed to, I completely understood their mindset.”

The home was in need of a complete overhaul, though, and with the exception of the primary suite bathroom, it needed updating from top to bottom. Charming gardens enveloped the surrounding grounds of the home, and it was important that the interiors reflected the setting and paid homage to the architecture. “As soon as we walked into the home together, we discovered that we shared the same vision and knew right away we would have a great time collaborating together,” Anderson shares. Rice adds, “I  am very decisive, so the design process did not take long. The communication between Betsy and I was so in sync.”

Collected French antiques would play a major role in the design, along with their children’s portraits and a large collection of Tommy Mitchell pieces. “They brought so many beautiful elements to the project, we knew that by simply keeping the walls white while using colors that were both clear and consistent, we could keep the home fresh and inviting,” Anderson says. Bespokefabric and wallcoverings incorporated fun patterns and colors that kept the home feeling timeless but updated.

“I tend to like a slightly formal but comfortable style,” Rice explains. “I would never want anything in the home that would make others feel too uncomfortable to sit, eat, drink, or enjoy themselves.” After creating a few design schemes from which to choose, the clients immediately gravitated toward a green-and-white patterned fabric, which allowed the process to unfold from there. “We wanted the home to feel like walking into an English garden—relaxed, and with an effortless abundance of color.” Rice adds, “The green is so serene—the fabrics and wallpaper really reflect the garden we wanted to bring in from outside.”

Over the next two years, the team covered every room in the home, even through the pandemic in 2020. And though it was challenging, each time a new element was placed into the home, the entire team’s enthusiasm made it exciting. “Honestly, as hard as it was to work within the confines of an old plaster home, the rewards of seeing it transformed surpassed any hiccups we experienced,” Anderson recalls.

Rice adds that her home is very personal to her, and that Anderson made trust and communication very easy. “Betsy had heart built into her professionalism in this project, and because my home is so important to me, I tend to nest and be more introverted. It really made for a wonderful combination that flowed beautifully,” she says.

The couple’s collection of Tommy Mitchell pieces and family heirlooms punctuate the decor, while accessories that were equally as curated and storied were added in layers.“Our firm believes that antiques are the best way to ground a home and add charm to a space,” Anderson says.

In the sitting room, the repetition of a Nina Campbell for Osborne & Little print on the walls and furnishings makes the space cozy, inviting, and decadent at once. “It sounds frantic in theory, but it actually creates the opposite effect,” Anderson explains. “It is one of the spaces we always gravitate toward when having intimate conversations with the homeowner.”

Anderson describes her portfolio as full of homes that are restrained and sophisticated, and brimming with collected pieces. “The homes we design have a tendency to be timeless and feminine, with a nod to both Europe and our New England roots,” she says. “We are influenced by the great designers in history, from Mark Hampton to Mariette Himes Gomez, and, of course, our travels.”

When it comes to collecting items for your home, Anderson suggests displaying pieces as a whole collection rather than spreading them throughout the home. “When you buy, buy less often and buy finer pieces. If you buy something special and precious, you will have it forever; a collected home sings, and this always takes time, but that is the beauty of it.”