Look for no surprise plot twists in this story: The home of Vivien Jennings and Roger Doeren is filled with mystery, drama, suspense and even a bit of romance.
Jennings, founder of Rainy Day Books in Fairway, has a home that would enchant any bibliophile. Jennings credits Doeren, her partner of 20 years and the chief of operations at the bookstore, with the success of its author events. Many of the books signed at those events grace the couple’s bookshelves.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
Jennings, 68, and Doeren, 62, live a short walk from the store in a traditional, four-bedroom home built in 1932. When the homemade, antique and built-in shelves don’t fit their collection, books borrow space on a chair, or in a cabinet in a sun-drenched kitchen.
But somehow, nothing about the house seems cluttered. Shining oak floors lead visitors through an open floor plan: dining room on the left, adjacent to the kitchen, which is open to the living room to the right. A treasured sun room serves as a reading nook. The formal dining room, with its shades of deep green, tilts more toward the traditional than the tropical-looking sun room, but that mix of styles reflects the couple’s eclectic tastes.
For our readers who love a bit of romance, how did you meet?
Doeren: I was a customer in 1988, and that’s when I went to find a book on how to be a good dad. I said, “I need books on babies,” and Vivien was so helpful. Later in my life, I said, “I need books on how to be the best divorced dad I can be.” In the course of getting to know Vivien, in 1994, I sensed a change, and asked her daughter about it. The answer was yes, there was a change in her life and she was single, and I started asking Vivien out. We fell in love in 1994.
How has this relationship impacted your life and the business?
Jennings: As far as the business, we needed him. We were going for author events in Unity Temple and Village Church and we needed the technology Roger was interested in bringing to the company, which is not a forte of mine. (Roger was a former lighting professional and engineer.) We really wanted to go out in the community to meet people and take what we have and share.
Doeren: We have many common interests, and share this goal: To leave the world better than we found it.
Jennings: And we do this by raising money and awareness for many organizations. We’ve partnered with almost every big civic organization in this community through the years.
How does your home reflect your life?
Jennings: Books are important as you can see from the shelves around the home. But I also have to have to have fresh flowers. It’s not a must — it’s a necessity. You’ll see them in the artwork around the house, as well. For Roger, music is important.
What influenced the home’s interior?
Jennings: Joy Adamson, who used to be my next-door neighbor, owns Designers Only. Almost 20 years ago, I brought her into this home filled with neutrals, and I said, “I want a colorful, happy house.” Not much has changed since then. It still says, “Welcome.”
Where did you come across your collectibles and artwork?
Jennings: Everything has a story. Roger and I have had so many experiences and that’s what we treasure. Every piece of art is from a trip we took, or a special memory of someone in our lives.
So what is the bookstore owner reading now?
Jennings: I’m a very eclectic reader, and I read more than one book at once. Right now, I’m reading “The Museum of Extraordinary Things” by Alice Hoffman. I just finished “Still Life with Bread Crumbs” by Anna Quindlen.
Doeren: But when you come down to what’s most important in this house and what we would save first in a fire, it wouldn’t be the books. It would be the family photos and treasures, because family and friends are first to us.