How Saratoga’s Betsy Olmsted Channels The Whimsy Of Nature Into Her Original, Vibrant Textiles

Getting to know one of the Spa City's most inventive designers and her creative craft.

Betsy Olmsted
Betsy Olmsted first hand paints her original designs on paper, then reproduces them with a vibrant, inky dye. (Elizabeth Haynes Photography)

It’s hard not to be charmed by Betsy Olmsted’s contagious brand of laughter. When I catch up with the Saratoga Springs-based textile designer to chat about her eponymous line of exuberant watercolor offerings, I ask her if her surroundings have influenced her work. “I’m living in a town with a lot of nature,” she says. “I’ll take my work into the city and people will be, like, ‘Oh, a squirrel! I saw a squirrel in the park the other day!’” She giggles over her words. “Depending on where you’re coming from, nature is more of a big deal.”

Betsy Olmsted
Betsy Olmsted has been featured in HGTV, Country Living and House Beautiful magazines. (Elizabeth Haynes Photography)

What definitely is a big deal is that every piece Olmsted makes is an original work of art. From pillows to towels to wallpaper, she first hand paints all of her designs on paper, and then reproduces them with a special, inky dye that mimics the original with vibrant, sophisticated results. I scroll through her Instagram feed as we chat, and even a color-phobe like myself can’t help but be drawn in, in particular, by her luxe Pink Shibori pillow. And her take on wildlife is just as compelling: She cites Congress Park’s architecture and formality as the inspiration for her ethereal Swans Pillow.

I’m also kind of obsessed that the Skidmore College graduate gets to work out of her home studio, which is a converted horse stable, naturally. So when the workday’s through, where does this mom head out with the family for a bite—or with the girls, for a cocktail? “The Mouzon House is so charming, with great Creole food—and I love a good night at Desperate Annie’s!” Hey, you know what they say: You can take the girl out of Skidmore, but you can’t take Skidmore out of the girl.

Rosie Case

Rosie Case is a freelance writer based in Fort Worth, TX. She's been writing for saratoga living since our 2018 Design Issue.

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