Interior Design

Jennifer Bertrand is Kansas City’s Design Star

HGTV host Jennifer Bertrand gives us the scoop about a new project that’s especially meaningful for her and her family.

Olathe-based Jennifer Bertrand first captured our attention when she appeared as a competitor on season three of HGTV’s “Design Star.” Since being named the winner of that title, Bertrand has gone on to make a number of TV appearances, including a one-hour special, “Paint-Over! with Jennifer Bertrand” on that same network. The bubbly star, who grew up as a military brat, credits her passion for interior design to seeing her mother transform their modest accommodations into stylish homes each time the family moved.

Q. What’s a typical day like for you?

A. I love this question because, like any true creative person and designer, there is never a typical day. I am fortunate to be a working wife and mom, and I am lucky to get to work on some amazing projects. I have to say, I’m impressed by all the working moms out there who manage to get out of the house looking put together! I usually am driving around Kansas City like the Tasmanian Devil, trying to spread design cheer. And like all true designers, we learn how to balance a few projects at a time—that always makes for an interesting day.

Q. What are you working on these days?

A. I am so happy to get to be designing the new Ronald McDonald House, which is going to be 18,000 square feet of happiness. The design build team is a powerhouse group of people ranging from HMN Architects to Centric Projects to the countless people who have donated materials and money to make this whole house happen.

I am working on a healthy eatery that will be opening up North and fun private residential clients. I also am very lucky to be working with International Design Guild on Design for a Difference, which is a national design contest to bring together the design community to use our talents for good. And I have gotten to work with Roth Distributing, which will have a new Sub Zero and Wolf showroom on The Plaza. I spoke in Denver to their showrooms, architects and designers about kitchen and bath trends for 2015. Like a true design nerd I love talking design and am appreciative every time I am able to do it. Oh, and I am venturing into the blogging world, which I find so fascinating! I hope to share design ideas, DIY videos and life adventures that inspire others to find their own personal style.

Q. How did you get involved with the Ronald McDonald House project?

A. Little did I know that my life would have a George Costanza-style “worlds colliding” moment when I started staying at the Ronald McDonald House in New York City for our son Winston’s surgeries. He went big and was born with mixed lymphatic and venous malformations. As we were going through our own personal medical adventures, I crossed paths with the local KC Ronald McDonald House and I began by simply painting one chalkboard wall with a quote that said, “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours.” After spending that day there, you can’t help but fall in love with the organization that’s sole purpose is to help families in need. And now, to design the new house from the perspective of a mom who has slept many a night in one, it couldn’t be more ideal.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the design and features of the RMD House?

A. It’s a mix of a Hamptons Coastal feel with a splash of craftsman to help it fit into the existing neighborhood. The palette is a blend of indigos, navy, coral, gray, tan and white with textures like jute and faded kilims—a beautiful happenstance of patterns and colors. I’ve also set the goal of using only local artists’ work in this house, which has been fun, discovering all of the amazing talent we have in Kansas City.

Q. What home design trends are you loving right now?

A. I have to say that I am obsessed with mixing metals. It’s an advanced design move for people to start, but once they understand how to bounce the metals around a space it starts to make sense. I am known for color but people always giggle when I say white is my favorite color. I also love how people are exploring textures in varying ways.

Q. You hosted HGTV’s “Paint-Over!,” so we know you believe in the power of paint. What are some other simple ways to make a big impact in home design?

A. Honestly, it’s about simplifying a space; take stuff out and give your room space to breathe. Some other easy updates are new light fixtures—changing even one can transform the personality of a room in a matter of moments—and wallpaper. Use it on one wall or paint a design motif—you can find some great stencils on Etsy—to add interest to a space. Bringing in fresh flowers every week or displaying potted succulents or cut branches adds a natural, organic element.

Artwork in a home says a lot about a person. Invest in unknown artists or save up for that one big showstopper piece. In Kansas City, you can visit Hammerpress for a fun print to frame, or mark your calendar for Hallmarket this September, where Hallmark artists sell their personal creations.

Q. What are some of the most common mistakes people make or misconceptions people have about painting?

A. They don’t have a color story throughout their home. They often approach each room individually and then fail to connect the spaces. I also see that people sometimes forget they can layer multiple tones of a color to really add depth to the space. For example red, coral and blush; emerald, turquoise and Tiffany blue; or indigo, navy and cornflower blue. l

Keep up to date with Bertrand’s latest projects by reading her blog, thereinventionofjenniferbertrand.com, or check out her website, jenniferbertrand.com.