At the age of 13, Kim Betzina wanted to be an architect. She wasted no time pre-paring, furnishing her bedroom with a drafting desk, a foldout sofa bed and brightly colored wallpaper. The design was notable enough that the San Francisco Chronicle published a story about it. “While some people were planning for prom, I was getting ready for client meetings,” says Betzina, who traded in architecture for a degree in French literature but went back to school for design years later through UC Berkeley’s Extension program.
After an internship with John Wheatman & Associates, she serendipitously came across another article in the Chronicle. It was about a home by burgeoning designer Jay Jeffers. “The house had lots of layers and texture, and I had this visceral reaction,” says Betzina, who worked at Jeffers Design Group for three and a half years before branching out with her own firm in 2006. Since then, she has worked on projects throughout the state, including this beach house in Ventura, where the clients gave her free rein to show off her love of color and prints. Betzina offered us a few simple ideas for brightening up a room with eye-catching fabrics and bold hues.
Say it loud
“I think of furniture like guests at a party: Every party needs a wildly dressed guest,” says Betzina of a wingback chair she had upholstered in a modern botanical pattern from Lee Jofa. “I find a fabric I love, and I let the rest of the space be informed by that.” This living room is simply furnished, with a pair of white leather armchairs and a vintage Hans Wegner lounge chair upholstered in a blue-gray fabric. “You don’t need a lot to make a room come alive,” says Betzina. “I tell my clients to choose a couple of strong statement pieces.”
Furthermore, it’s twice as nice
For a striking entryway, Betzina covered the walls and vintage chairs with the same oversize blue-and-white fern print from Peter Fasano.
The pattern takes on different forms when applied to various fields. “There is a sense of surprise and intrigue right when you walk in,” says Betzina, who lined the back of the bookshelves with the same wallpaper for another repeat. “A little paint or wallpaper can easily liven up a bland piece of furniture.”
With lots of natural light and French doors that open to a garden, the dining room feels more like an enclosed patio. Betzina enhanced the garden aesthetic by covering the walls with grass cloth and embellishing Folio chairs from Crate & Barrel with slipcovers she had made from Raoul Textiles fabric. “The vine print makes me think of an elegant brunch, but it’s juxtaposed with a really simple chair,” says Betzina, who chose a marble-top Saarinen table to add a hint of formality to the space. “Simply covering the backs of the chairs
makes the room a lot more exciting.”