JOB DESCRIPTION: Floral, interior and garden designer and owner of B + I Design, 520 West Pennway, 816-561-5599, BergamotAndIvy.com
By STACY DOWNS
The Kansas City Star
Q. You established your business Bergamot & Ivy in 1993 on Westport Road and recently moved it to the Crossroads Arts District and changed the name to B + I Design. Why?
A. Before it was a floral and giftware business, and now were not selling giftware. And before, interior and garden design was just on the side. Now its a big part of the business. Different people would call us B + I for short. Growing up, I liked the herb bergamot because it attracted hummingbirds. So I thought it, paired with ivy, would show Im in the horticulture business.
Q. Whats your personal design style?
A. Eclectic with an emphasis on classic design. I like using found objects and not using everything of one period or style. My dad was an architect and a professor of architecture and urban planning at KU, so I grew up knowing about the heavy hitters of the design world and learning about proportions. My mother sewed and was a poet. My parents met in the Navy in World War II; he was a captain and she was a code breaker. Our family lived in a passive solar 1950s Mission Hills house and we had a real inside/outside lifestyle. From all this, I developed a love of cooking and gardening. And with design, I believe there should be a flow from the inside to the outside in color and theme. With a yard, you have the space of another house to enjoy.
Q. On the subject of houses, whats yours like?
A. Its east of Lawrence and was built 35 years ago as a second getaway-type home to people who lived in the Kansas City area. It has an 8-acre pond. The house is small and has a British look. It was designed by architect (and KU professor) Dan Rockhill early in his career.
Q. What do you seem to help people with the most when it comes to their interiors?
A. People dont want entire rooms of new stuff. They want to incorporate pieces they already have, and that can be tricky for them. They dont want more stuff; they want to upgrade to nicer stuff. Peoples tastes mature as they travel more, visit art museums and read magazines. I like using pieces from estate sales because you can find things that are different from whats in a store. People in the Kansas City area have interesting things because theyre well traveled, things from Bali, Afghanistan and modern pieces.
Q. Besides estate sales, where do you like to shop for the home?
A. 1stdibs.com and ebay.com when theres a specific item Im on the hunt for. But I like to look at flea markets and the antique stores at 45th Street and State Line Road for spontaneous finds. There are also Kansas City Art Institute grads and students who make unique objects and custom furniture.
Q. Do you collect anything?
A. Oh yes. Jadeite, Venetian glass, orchids, hyacinth vases, matte white pottery such as McCoy and shagreen accessories. And I collect garden plants and do some plant breeding. I have more than 100 different types of lilacs and lots of unusual woodland plants.
Q. What are some easy fresh-cut arrangements when its so hot outside?
A. I think cut greens in clear glass vases are stunning: grasses, ferns, hostas, ivies. Theyre such simple arrangements, but they look clean, fresh and spontaneous. I think finding things from your backyard or in nature to make a quick, 15-minute arrangement is creative and recharges the batteries.
Q. Whats your favorite room in your home?
A. The living room. The walls are an orangy-brick red, and there are lots of teals and lichen-y blues in the room. I love strong complementary color combinations. The windows have a view of the outside, including the bird feeders. The room is a mix of high-end and simple. I live in the country and I have a dog, so it has to be comfortable, nothing fussy.