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The Busy Creator Podcast with Prescott Perez-Fox

The Busy Creator Podcast is a discussion program where creative professionals from across the spectrum share tools, techniques, and habits they use in their practice. Listeners are introduced to strategies and pro tips to be their most creative, productive selves.

Full website available at and for the show specifically.

Dec 8, 2014

The Busy Creator 35 w/guest Betsy Helmuth

Betsy Helmuth (@BetsyHelmuth) is an interior designer & decorator in New York City. Her company, Affordable Interior Design, offers exactly what is says on the tin. Over the years, she’s designed rooms in over 1,000 apartments, allowing her to create a systematic approach to working with busy clients.

Betsy’s latest book, Big Design, Small Budget, is available Dec. 11, 2014. Pre-order a copy and give it this holiday season to the interior design geek in your life.

Big Design, Small Budget by Betsy Helmuth

Big Design, Small Budget by Betsy Helmuth

Our conversation centers on the eccentricities of New York City apartments — and apartment-dwellers — as well as the systems Betsy has used to build a thriving business.


Show Notes & Links

  • Betsy is the first Busy Creator representative for the Interior Design industry.
  • People who shop at Ikea and Target are Betsy’s key customers
  • New Yorkers feel a lot of anxiety about their space, and their storage (or lack thereof)
  • New York City apartments can be “insultingly small”
  • “Small is a relative term.” ← Click to Tweet
  • Betsy has worked with over 1000 apartments; each year she works with 250 clients
  • “It’s a cookie-cutter plan, but within that there’s a lot of individuality” ← Click to Tweet
  • West Elm
  • Betsy has developed a core 20 questions to determined how her clients live in their 
  • “After 1000 apartments there’s no judgement. I’ve seen it all.” ← Click to Tweet
  • Client On-boarding/Discover Process
  • Best business advice Betsy every received: “If the name of your business doesn’t say exactly what you do, change it.”
  • The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch
  • Clients find Betsy by Googling “Affordable Interior Design”
  • The Ikea Effect — If you built it yourself, you create an emotional investment
  • “Never ever ever, ever, build your own Ikea (unless you’re a professional)” ← Click to Tweet
  • 80/20 rule applied to Ikea (80% crap, 20% gold)
  • Japanese school of thought for actors who clean their own stage, it builds awareness of the world
  • “Honor your space”, give it attention
  • “Your space is like committing to a partner” 
  • Multi-variable Differential Equation
  • “not-yet-ness”
  • “The limitations define ‘the box’, and that’s where the magic happens.” ← Click to Tweet
  • Eames Chair with Ottoman
  • Cable Management is key; get a “raceway”
  • Prescott’s new desk (forthcoming blog post)
  • Our previous podcast episode about Project Management software and collaboration



  • Develop a core series of questions to ask your new clients
  • Offer plans or packages so clients can choose based on their need 
  • Build your room around an “inspiration item”, especially one with three or more colours
  • Mix woods within colour families
  • Get a storage unit if you need to hold on to something
  • Utilise open-close storage, such as a desk with cabinets and drawers
  • Staple cables to walls and furniture to keep them out of the way
  • Re-evaluate your workflows around your growing and changing business


  • Locate outlets when you enter a room, especially in NYC
  • Answer your own phone
  • Work late hours, after the kids to go sleep
  • Get to the coffee shops where you can get stuff done
  • Turn the TV on (in the background) for creative flow

Get The Episode

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