Designing Women – playing with color, lighting and a passion for the restaurant business

story by Suzi Mitchell, photos by Regan Beroni

Restaurateur Bettina Neset cares nothing for the limelight. She is happy to be the hidden half in a husband-and-wife team, who have built up Rex’s Family of Restaurants in Steamboat Springs over the last two decades. However, if there is one thing that reflects her true colors, it is the interior design within each of their seven restaurants. 

Bettina Nesset, left and Lindsey Jamison, right

Despite being a self-confessed magazine junkie with a passion for Pinterest, Bettina chose to partner with Lindsey Jamison and her team at Rumor Design + ReDesign, a Steamboat-based interiors firm for a series of remodels. Their latest collaboration is a testament to the duo’s playful appetite for color and texture. 

“In the restaurant business you want to be bold, and Lindsey is bolder than I,” Bettina shares, laughing. It’s clear the pair align. At the outset of the design plan for expanding Salt & Lime, the group’s Mexican-inspired eatery, Bettina presented a brightly hued, multi-loop chandelier made of recycled soda pop bottles and basket covers as inspiration. The fixture serves as a talking point in the glass-walled private dining room, where a strip of Spanish tile packs a fun punch on the inside darkened walls. 

Playful wallpaper wraps the site’s elongated walls, where booths mingle with oversized scalloped chairs and quirky covered seating nooks. Mixed media artwork by Denver-based Dolan Geiman provides a talking point, no more so than Rita, the recently named Burro sculpture who takes center stage at the bar.

 

Despite Steamboat’s rural locale, Salt & Lime, like its sister venue, The Laundry Kitchen & Cocktails (pictured above) emanates an urban vibe, which was met with trepidation initially by longtime locals. “Steamboat is changing, and we have definitely seen an influx of people moving here who want what we offer with the cocktail bar experience, small plates and great food in fun settings.”

Lindsey echoes the sentiment which provided the impetus for her and business partner Valerie Stafford to open a larger homeware boutique, cafe and design studio downtown in 2021 (Rumor Design + ReDesign pictured below). “COVID had us all holding our breath, but people wanted to renovate, and our business just keeps growing,” Lindsey says. The business won a Designer of the Year Award from HGTV in 2021 and were finalists in two categories for 2022. 

Steamboat maintains its ranching heritage and so far, the cosmopolitan injection over recent years has only added to the town’s allure. “We’ve definitely kept some of our restaurants more traditional such as Mazzola’s Italian, which has a large family following,” Bettina says. At The Laundry, Lindsey and Bettina opted to celebrate the rich history of the historic building, which once served as a laundromat. Fun imagery and the rust brick walls hint at the location’s past, which was paramount to Lindsey, a Midwestern transplant with a penchant for historic buildings. 

Lindsey relishes the diversity of working on residential and commercial projects. “Commercial definitely allows more playfulness with color, funky lighting and taking risks,” she says. Both women believe customer service is the driving force behind their successful relationship, and their individual businesses. “If something isn’t right, I can call Lindsey and she will fix it, you can’t get that online,” Bettina says. 

Customers want to experience a personal connection. “Many of our diners don’t know who I am when I walk into any of our restaurants,” Bettina continues. She is the behind-the-scenes visionary who found her style match in Rumor. “I like being able to be the eyes and ears, and nothing makes me smile more than seeing our customers enjoying the spaces we worked so hard to create.”

Be sure to read more from our current issue of the magazine: Mountain Women Magazine

Copyright ©2023 Mountain Women Magazine and MTN Town Media Productions all rights reserved.

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