HGTV’s Jennifer Bertrand talks 2019 design trends, renovation plans and a new podcast

Jennifer Bertrand, the Kansas City-area designer who won season three of HGTV’s “Design Star,” recently returned from a trip to Copenhagen and London Design Week.

She brought back laughs, inspiration and her unique perspective on the latest design trends.

Kansas City Spaces: I’m told that in Europe, you saw the comeback of dried florals, particularly at Poppykalas in Copenhagen. Were they like the dried flowers that were so popular in the ’80s?

Jennifer Bertrand: Yes, but refreshed. It’s not the sickly sweet colors you remember. We’re seeing burnt sienna, golden tones, delicious plums. This is a modern interpretation of it. The younger generation is discovering the softness of wheat and cattails. It’s like, ‘Oh, I casually went for a walk and picked this up along the way.’ It’s more happenstance and less trying too hard.

KCS: How are people arranging them?

JB: In vignettes and tablescapes mostly, but also for weddings. People are doing new things, like suspending them upside-down.

KCS: What other trends are you seeing?

JB: I follow a lot of great designers and events on Instagram like the design event Salone (del Mobile) in Milan, which is fun because they show everything that’s coming next that we’re slowly starting to see here. 2LG (2 Lovely Gays) does a lot of Art Deco, ‘80s, and colors you can’t imagine. Scandinavian and Mid-century have had a big surge recently, and they’re keeping the tones and softness but having fun adding accessories. It all ties in with the wellness trend and Marie Kondo, being selective with what you bring home.

KCS: Have you KonMaried? I know you as a supreme maximalist — are you switching sides?

JB: Not visually. But I’m taking moments to give the eyes and mind time to rest. I still want the space to tell a story as you walk through. I still want to layer color, but more tonally, with sheens and finishes.

KCS: How about in your own home?

JB: I gave away everything in my house (at Weatherby Lake). Now I’m trying to make it more intentional. When you can’t afford the right answer, you buy too much of the little stuff. I was a furniture hoarder; I had cool ’80s stuff, but I feel good now.

KCS: What ‘sparked joy’ enough for you to keep?

JB: A couple of live-edge tables and organic pieces, also a red-painted mid-century piece. I kept the art and a sofa that will eventually go away. I’m saving for the right thing instead of making fast decisions. I want to have a space that shows my skills and that I will be proud to show off. I’m following my own advice, which is really annoying. God, I hate me sometimes.

KCS: So you’re starting over.

JB: Parts of my house are down to studs right now. It’s going to be a new beginning of awesomeness. But I had to get an architect to help me with doing things in phases. The world knows that with my son Winston, I don’t live like my clients — I have to think forward. It’s very modern, simple and clean. And you know I’m all whimsy and pattern everywhere. Of course, I’m still doing all that in art. But I’ve reached a zen moment of teaching myself to refrain, trying the less-is-more approach.

KCS: What style will it be?

JB: Well, it’s like a haircut. Only certain haircuts will work for your face. You have to accept that your house is like your face and find the style that will work for it. It’s a ranch, and we are doing it all modern. All of the remodel is being donated or bartered for. It will have a shou sugi ban exterior that has this black crackle finish. It’s a Japanese method of preserving the wood by charring it, and it turns out as a blend of organic matter fused with color that’s not obnoxious. I’m super excited and also slightly freaking out.

KCS: Besides your house, what’s the most exciting thing driving you right now?

JB: I’m starting to play on the national level again. I’m doing a podcast with the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) for the industry called KB Talks. I’m talking with cool industry designers, going to events and speaking at galas. I’m also really into celebrating our community of designers here. It’s not a competition; everyone in KC should be celebrated. We should remind ourselves why we fell in love with design and remember community over competition.