Neal and Betsy Norvell love the quaint, quiet town of Davidson. It’s where they planted roots 14 years ago and raised their now 17-year-old son, Sam. Like most couples, the Norvells knew they would eventually downsize once Sam left home and intended to do so in the next few years. But as fate would have it, an opportunity presented itself last summer, allowing the family to sell their home and buy a townhome down the street. Though they lost some square footage and furniture during the move, there was one thing they didn’t have to part with: their beloved old neighborhood.
For Betsy, a design studio specialist for Pottery Barn and lover of all things interior design, downsizing was just another project—only this time, it was all her own. Since June 2015, Betsy has accomplished quite a bit. Aside from giving up a lot of old furniture and purchasing new pieces to fit the smaller space, she immediately got to work remodeling. First was the kitchen renovation, which included trading out the backsplash for subway tile, updating the cabinets with a fresh coat of paint, and replacing the countertops with a crisp, more modern option. She also updated the home’s floors, replacing the tile with floating hardwood.
The living room and dining room are completely finished—gleaming with gorgeous light fixtures and elegantly placed furniture as well as small details like perfectly curated bookshelves, a Pinterest-worthy gallery wall, and colorful pillows and accent pieces. The charming and oh-so-inviting outdoor patio looks like a page taken from a Pottery Barn catalog, with every detail—from the table, chairs, and umbrella to the charger plates and napkins—available in store.
Though Sam had to leave his childhood room behind during the move, he got out okay—taking over the townhome’s private casita (a small, attached but self-contained house or apartment) above the garage. An avid music fan and adventurist, his new digs speak to his personality—with Rolling Stones’ vinyl covers framed above his bed and a colorful snowboard hanging over his door’s entrance. Betsy and Sam worked on the room together, creating a bold accent wall in the bedroom using adhesive strips of reclaimed wood from West Elm. The result: a rustic yet refined hangout that Sam may never want to leave.
As far as Betsy’s design aesthetic, she describes her approach as a collected, layered look. “I like a few antiques and family pieces thrown into the mix. I have certain things that will always be in my home, such as a portrait of an ancestor, an antique chest, and art I’ve collected traveling. I think your home tells the story of your life,” she says. Along with the old, she also brought in the new with bright pillows, freshly upholstered furniture, drapes, dining furniture, and accessories.
Betsy says working as a design studio specialist has allowed her to find her personal style and put a name on it. Although she’s always had an eye for design, working for Pottery Barn has given her the opportunity to discover what it is that makes a home not only pretty, but also personal. “I’ll always use certain pieces that I love and that mean something to me,” she says. “That’s a really important factor. When you go into a pretty home where everything is just purchased straight from the showroom, it looks nice but it really doesn’t have that personal touch.”
Betsy says she’s by no means finished with the renovation and there’s still a lot to be done (someone with an eye for design can always find something or another to tweak). Next, she plans to have built-in bookshelves put in around a set of French doors and will also tackle the master bedroom and bathroom.
Her best advice for others who are downsizing? “Really think about what you’re going to move, and try to get rid of things beforehand instead of bringing them with you,” she says. “Really clean house and think about what you have. If it brings you joy, keep it; if it doesn’t, get rid of it.”
Photographs by Zaire Kacz