Can you change your life by changing your furniture?
Betsy Helmuth is certain you can. The owner and creative force behind Dobbs Ferry-based Affordable Interior Design is on a mission to improve lives and believes something as simple as changing a stiff leather sofa into a large comfy sectional can bring a family together.
Make the seating more comfortable and, Helmuth contends, family and friends will stay longer and want to visit.
“It can significantly impact your quality of life,” said Helmuth. "If I didn’t think I was making a difference every single day, I would close up shop.
"My mission is to improve lives.”
More significantly, her credo is to improve lives on a budget.
A Midwest girl, Helmuth started as a commissioned painter working for New York City’s elite. When she noticed that her clients had enough funds to commission a piece of artwork but didn’t have a decent sofa, she went from artist to interior designer.
“I told one client who was also a good friend that his apartment was a mess,” said Helmuth with a laugh. “He didn’t need a painting but some accent tables. So he hired me.”
A year later, in 2005, Affordable Interior Design was born.
Initially designing predonimanantly for upscale clients, Helmuth found she preferred to make the smaller spaces – the more typical New York City apartment – more livable and comfortable.
“I come from humble beginnings and couldn’t relate to the large houses in the Hamptons," she said.
"I wanted to do interior design for people like me – those without a bottomless budget."
To that end, she authored Big Design, Small Budget, a DIY design book published in 2014. A year later, she began a weekly podcast with the same name to further her goal of bringing life-changing design to all.
“I love that it’s turned into an interior design advice show," said Helmuth.
Helmuth’s 30-minute podcast garners between 8,000 and 10,000 downloads a month.
While still maintaining a business and design team in Manhattan and serving both high- and low-budget clients and businesses, she moved to Dobbs Ferry in 2015 and set up a storefront at 103 Main Street (where she records her podcasts).
Since then she's appeared on the DIY Network, HGTV, and Lifetime, among other networks, and on Friday, Jan. 12, will return to the Today show to offer design tips for the budget-minded.
You don’t have to wait until then, however, for a piece of advice. Helmuth has a quick tip for Daily Voice readers: Don’t put a small rug in front of your furniture; make your area feel more inclusive by using a larger area rug.
Said the interior designer: “Using rugs to define areas is critical and something that a lot of people don’t think about."
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