Things I Learned from My Living Room

By Jennifer Bertrand

1. Gnome Epiphany
So there is never a sale that doesn’t peak my eyeballs. Often I am having whole dialogues in my head as to what I could do with whatever weird or bizarre or interesting object I come across. Recently, I came upon a sale that had 30 felt gnomes for next to nothing. Of course there were also 24 little red cardinal birds for pennies as well.

Ahhhhhhhhhh, I can use them next Christmas and do a massive grouping. Then when I got home it hit me. Why should we wait until next Christmas? Instead, our son Winston and I spent the evening playing hide the gnome and we placed all of them around our living room. We then created a cardinal tree with all of the birds.

It was happiness spilled over into daily life. I often think we could all learn a lot from set designers who create worlds on stage or television. And perhaps we all need some of the theatrics in our ever day homes.

2. Support Local
I love all of the creative and amazing talent we have in Kansas City. No joke we have artists that play on a national level in so many varying fields. One of my favorite local peeps is Karrie Kaneda of Happy Habitat. Her throws and pillows are the perfect knit texture to soften your home. Any time I do a design project, I try to bring in something local. If you are not sure where to shop for local art, of course hit the West Bottoms first. And then an easy way to start finding peeps is type in Kansas City on Etsy. VintageKC’s website also has a list of local makers and features them in the December Gift Guide!
3. It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense
Yes, sure, a metal cow skull should have a bird and some tassels on it. I often laugh at what pops in my head. And even just recently I was telling a client that I sound absolutely bonkers when I say what I am thinking out loud. But you just need to look at an item and ask yourself, “What is the expected use of this item?” Then ask yourself, “What is the exact opposite thing I could do with it?” Then it becomes a fun game. This will keep your home from looking like everyone else’s and add conversation elements throughout your spaces!

4. Neat + Orderly Bookshelves Feel Good

So lately I got the book that is sweeping the world … you know, the one about happiness and tidiness. I hilariously have not started it yet, but I started cleansing our home of extra items that don’t bring me joy and add clutter to my eyeballs. I am a strong believer that if your house is in order, then your mind is in order. And lately my mind and home have been a bit of controlled chaos. So take the time to clean out and lessen your bookshelves and your life and I pinky promise that you will be a happy camper!

5. Don’t Get Overwhelmed
My final thought is focus a room at a time. It’s easy to go from room to room on who needs to be done. But most importantly, just remember slow and steady wins the race. Or it may not win the race, but it gets you there. I want you to forget the other rooms and just do one. You get one done and you will feel like you can keep on going!

Huge hugs to all of you! Happy designing!

xoxo Jen

Jennifer Bertrand is the winner of HGTV’s show “Design Star” season three and cohost of  “Real Life Design” on She resides in Weatherby Lake, MO, with her lovely English husband, Chris, and her happy son, Winston. She has big plans in life to conquer the design world … again.

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