Betsy Moyer of Retreat: “A place for everything, and everything in its place”

A place for everything, and everything in its place — that’s an old adage, but I’m really feeling it. I love to run around the house tidying up but I dislike when I come upon an item that doesn’t have an assigned (and hopefully concealed) spot in the home. It’s wise to build storage for all aspects […]

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A place for everything, and everything in its place — that’s an old adage, but I’m really feeling it. I love to run around the house tidying up but I dislike when I come upon an item that doesn’t have an assigned (and hopefully concealed) spot in the home. It’s wise to build storage for all aspects of junk that inevitably come in, from mail, to your amazon obsessions, to kid’s toys and books, to that crepe maker that you were rewarded in the family white elephant game, etc.


As part of my series on the “5 Things You Can Do to Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Betsy Moyer Interior designer & co-founder of Retreat.

Betsy Moyer is a serial entrepreneur and interior designer with extensive experience in creative design and digital content creation strategy. She is the co-founder and creative director for both The Estate of Things, a nationally recognized interior design brand known for their blog, historic renovation consultation, and their brick-and-mortar store, ShopTEOT, and The Blissfield Acres, an 11-home neighborhood development in North Carolina. In 2020, she launched her latest venture, Retreat, serving as a co-founder, creative director, and lead designer to bring elevated, experiential design to the Joshua Tree area. Retreat offers a one-stop-shop service to current and prospective short-term rental property hosts, providing everything from real estate consultation to contracts for renovations and final interior design.

Betsy’s previous professional experience includes marketing, social media, and content development work and she served as director of digital content strategy for NPR affiliate radio station KCRW, The Design People, and The Hickory Museum of Art. She holds a Bachelor’s of Art in History with a focus in museum studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and is currently earning her master’s degree in interior architecture and design from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Betsy is passionate about doing good for the world, donating to support the Miry’s List, a program for refugees in LA, and the Exodus Road, a nonprofit fighting against human trafficking. She is a proud mother to daughter JJ, a singer in the band Luxembourg Signal, and a two-time cancer survivor with a new vision and drive for life that can’t be stopped.


Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My partner Kate Shaw and I started a collaboration designing for AirBnBs long before we launched Retreat, which is the merge of my interior design brand, The Estate of Things and Kate’s AirBnB Investment and Property Management company, Riley Properties. My interest in all things home, renovation and real estate has early roots. I can’t recall a time that I wasn’t scouring real estate listings for an afternoon fantasy or taking a trip with my mom to do a drive-by on a property for sale only to her quip “dreams are free” to my dad when he brought us back to reality. Alongside designer and real estate agent Sarah Farrell, I launched my interior design & real estate blog, The Estate of Things in 2008. For over a decade we have chronicled our efforts in the market buying, renting, building, renovating, designing, staging and even launching a brick and mortar shop with locations on the East & West coasts. All the while, Kate and I had shared an apartment and collaborated together over a number of successful decor projects for her short term rentals. It was only natural to bring our entrepreneurial pursuits together and launch a service for AirBnB specific design at this point, when the market is absolute fire in Joshua Tree.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I built a website one weekend with faith that Kate would take the resource and run with it, securing us clients from her network in the Joshua Tree community. That inclination was dead on. Since launch we have certainly had more inquiries than we have capacity!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Well, the first funniest mistake for me is that I didn’t wrangle Kate into making this an official business sooner. I was working for free for her properties for years!!! Haha!

And the second funniest (not really funny) has been going too hard too fast! We are both massive people pleasers and we are learning that we can please people without burning ourselves out. Now we’re strategizing and productizing and coming up with ways to cherry pick the most fun projects. We are fulfilling both of our passions for creating, designing and doing. We aren’t in this game for a quick buck. We’re 100% good vibes, great experiences, fun clients, and cool projects. We want to pay our team of ladies well, enjoy a work atmosphere together, and have a great time pursuing our passions and strengths.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

One of the most interesting projects we are working on is a consulting job for a client who is gearing up to make an investment in new construction for AirBnB. “Real Estate Investment Consultation” wasn’t exactly on our list of services when we launched, but this client made his way into our hearts and we’ve now built a structure and organization around the loads of information required when considering the leap into this very special market.

The most exciting project is Kate’s latest property. The architecture is rad and since we are official now, this is going to be the landmark project that Retreat will be proud to use as a calling card.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson/Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Hmm. Not a quote per se, but a poem by Rupi Kaur. This poem speaks to me deeply about the losses and gains that I have experienced over the past few years from the birth of my daughter (who we jokingly call our boss) and the loss of my mother months later to stage 4 cancer, to the diagnosis and treatment of my own cancer all within a 2 year span. I celebrated my first Mother’s Day as a mom the same year that I faced Mother’s Day without my mom. It has been a huge and transformative process in every way.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have to call out Sarah Farrell here. She has been a valuable and dear friend to me since the moment I softball slid my way into her heart. She and I have been exploring our personal tastes for house and home together for 20 years. From college roommates to business partners, she has helped me shape my own style by constantly challenging me to refine my sensibilities. We have shared an interior design blog (and shop) for years. So, when it comes to interior design, for me, Sarah hands down has been instrumental in my success. Also, shout out to my husband who makes all my dreams come true and is footing the bill for my Masters Degree in Interior Design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco.

Thank you for that. Here is the main question of our discussion. 5 Things You Can Do To Help Your Living Space Spark More Joy and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Organize your Kitchen with beautiful storage — I never really “got it” with the container store… until recently when I had to radically shift my diet. Having nutrition at hand and on display in beautiful containers out on open shelves helped me to cement my new healthy habits.
  2. Go Fancy with your bed & bedding — We spend SO MUCH TIME in our beds and sleep is so crucial to how we tackle the day. Splurge on your mattress and your sheet quality.
  3. Consider Lighting — This is so huge. I’m highly sensitive in general, but this also manifests in lighting. If the bulb temp is 2700K and dimmable I’m distraught. I’m miserable if an overhead task light isn’t nearby, especially as my vision has deteriorated through cancer treatments and age. I also can’t bear a bare bulb in sight while reading, so soft diffusion of reading lamps is key to happiness. There are lots of layers and use cases for different lighting. It has become so important to me. And hey, you might not think this applies to you, but they say good design is 99% invisible so until you are experiencing a great lighting scenario, you might not even know what effect your little eye squints are having overall.
  4. A place for everything, and everything in its place — That’s an old adage, but I’m really feeling it. I love to run around the house tidying up but I dislike when I come upon an item that doesn’t have an assigned (and hopefully concealed) spot in the home. It’s wise to build storage for all aspects of junk that inevitably come in, from mail, to your amazon obsessions, to kid’s toys and books, to that crepe maker that you were rewarded in the family white elephant game, etc.
  5. A space plan, a vibes guide and a great color scheme — This brings me joy and here’s why. I like to evolve my homes slowly over time. I like to collect and I never really want to be done. When you commit to a furniture layout, a vibes guide (aka the consistent use of materials throughout the home) and a color scheme, then you have a framework for collecting for your home. If I lay this out for myself and the plan is cohesive, then while I’m out in the world, if I run upon something for my home and if I want it, I can ask myself if it fits in the plan, the guide, and the scheme. If it does, duh. If it doesn’t then I have to weigh how much I love it and if it’s enough to totally change directions… and if not, I ask myself if I can resell it in my shop because that’s the next best thing to owning it myself. haha.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Well, I believe that in some way, the pandemic was a great teacher in the idea that home is the starting place for our health and we have all already made leaps and bounds towards improving our spaces for thriving. Having a well balanced, organized and beautiful space that meets the needs and demands of our lifestyle is paramount to achieving mental and physical health. From kitchens that function to promote healthy diet choices, to sleeping spaces that help us get the 7–9 hours that our bodies need, to lighting that helps to minimize micro-stressors like squinting to read, it’s all important. So, maybe my movement would be geared toward wellness in home design. I expressly believe these things, but I just put them all into words and now I feel like it’s time to launch a new business arm.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainmentread this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

Alright, I’ll bite. Calling on you, Elon Musk. He is just the right mix of inventive and wild and I really admire his spirit and skillset, even if I don’t align with all of the crazy that seems to come out of his camp. I recall seeing him speak when I worked for KCRW and a young audience member asked when there will be flying cars. His answer provided such a fantastic line of thinking for me to consider that became a life lesson in my approach to design. He said something along the lines of Too innovative too fast is hardly accepted, but slow steps from a point of recognition make the challenge of big change surmountable.

So, yes — I’d take my breakfast with Elon, but better yet, I’ll take him as a client. Dear Elon, you can hire me to outfit your vacation home and we can see together what inventive ideas with wild budgets can truly achieve in the desert lands of Joshua Tree, CA.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@retreatairbnb & @theestateofthings

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!

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