Susan Betts lives in a time warp.

And she'll let you visit it, for a price.

Betts owns the Commodore Joshua Barney House, a bed-and-breakfast in Savage. The house, built circa 1760, was the home of Barney, a hero of both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. In 2000, it became Betts's home, and in 2003, part of her livelihood.

Running the inn calls upon all the skills she has developed over her eclectic career -- stay-at-home mom, real estate agent, public relations, retail shop owner and gardening supplies wholesaler -- as well as her natural knack for decorating and what she calls "whimsy."

"Stuff is my middle name," said Betts, 62, and collecting cool stuff and arranging it well is key to creating the ambience people seek when they stay at a B&B, especially at a place such as Barney House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

She enjoys the autonomy that the job offers, as well as the chance to meet new people, but she stresses that anyone interested in running a B&B had better like to work. There's no set job description, and to be successful requires doing "whatever it takes," she said. That includes cooking, gardening, polishing silver, welcoming visitors, and not panicking when the housekeeper spots water drip, drip, dripping onto your 200-year-old floors.

And you have to do it all without panicking in front of guests, she said. "If you can't be gracious, you can't be in this business."

-- Mary Ellen Slayter

Susan Betts owns the historic Commodore Joshua Barney House in Savage.