House + Home Q+A

Allan Stever, co-owner, J’adore Home and Garden

Updated: 2013-05-12T01:29:10Z

By ALICE THORSON

The Kansas City Star

It has been almost 15 years since Allan Stever and Michael Richardson opened their J’adore Home and Garden shop at 63rd and Oak streets in Brookside, where the two have built a loyal clientele for their furniture and decor items with a European flair.

In 2011, Stever and Richardson expanded J’adore into an adjacent space formerly occupied by a coffee shop, and in 2012 they remodeled and revamped the entire shop and expanded their selection of upholstered furniture from Company C.

With good weather looming, the shop is stocked with a variety of items for outdoor living, one of the topics Stever addressed in a recent interview.

What’s J’adore about?

I’ve always referred to this as a mini department store. We have soap and towels for the bath, kitchen accessories and glassware, and pictures, lamps, rugs and pillows.

How did you get started?

We were bankers for almost 20 years. We began by importing containers of antiques from Europe. Friends in France inspired us and offered to help. We’d rent a U-Haul and go around the country to junk stores. After 9/11 it became difficult to get items through customs so we stopped importing, but we’ve tried to continue with a European flair.

When we opened we didn’t do a business plan, even though we were bankers. It was a case of “Do as I say, not as I do.” I didn’t know the Atlanta, New York and Dallas home fashion and gift markets existed.

And after you found out about them?

At first we bought antiques. Then we thought we might need some lamps and accessories so we started going to markets looking for everything French, from jewelry to soaps.

What inspires you?

We’ve always had a love of home and thought the home should be warm and inviting. That’s what we want our shop to express.

What are some of your specialties?

My favorites include our Campo de Fiore pottery for the garden. It has good, timeless design and is available in several styles, including piecrust, fishscale, tulip and artichoke. All of the clay is treated with moss spores. If you plant in it, the moss will reactivate. We carry Sid Dickens’ Memory Blocks. He’s based in Vancouver and is inspired by European architectural design. He has a huge following. People display one block on a shelf or 50 on a wall.

What’s new for outdoor living?

We carry textiles as well as furniture from Company C, which is known for color, and the quality is good. We have their indoor and outdoor rugs in five or six sizes. The outdoor rugs are basically a polyester and come in different patterns. “Fiji” is a popular one, and there are many florals. It’s a good way to freshen a patio or deck. You want to put them in a sheltered space.

We also have a hand-picked assortment of colorful outdoor pillows. They’re made of compressed felt and repel the elements.

Who are your customers?

Our customer base is all over the country. Our customers tend to have traditional homes that lend themselves to timeless style. We try not to follow trends. If you want trends, go to the big corporate stores. The world is becoming more transitional, but clean lines are a hard transition for me. Somebody said, ‘buy one-third of what you hate.’ We really only buy what we love.

And that is?

We’ve always prided ourselves on color. We want colors that make you feel relaxed. Orange has been our signature color since day one, and my favorite wood is pine.

What’s your philosophy of selling?

I will give you ideas. I’m not a designer. I like working with you not for you.

And what about those younger customers?

They want a look for a good price. They’re not as interested in antiques. They lean more toward painted pieces or a mix of paint and wood.

What are some of your top sellers?

The Lampe Berger diffusion system. It will freshen a room in half the time of a candle. That’s our milk in the grocery store.

And I have a good reputation for faux florals. I try to mix real with artificial so it’s harder to tell.

And tell me about your kitchen.

It’s a little French kitchen that is very quaint and Old World. It’s a showcase for all our French glassware, place mats, towels and accessories for your kitchen.

To reach Alice Thorson, call 816-234-4783 or send email to athorson@kcstar.com.

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