If the walls are the bones of a house, and the utilities its veins, then the form and function of furniture must be the organs. Furniture makes a home livable; it makes it comfortable and useful. A more apt, and tasty, metaphor may be that of an ice cream sundae, wherein the bowl is the home, the ice cream the furniture, and paintings and accessories the cherry that makes a space truly beautiful. As the final step in the home design process, the choice of furnishings deserves the same priority as any proceeding initiatives, for which there is an entire industry of professionals trained to help.

Finding Your Fit

Zetooney Hanson Interiors

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Jennifer Zetooney and Shaina Hanson found their way to the Flathead Valley through family, but their work in interior design has given them a reason to stay. Zetooney Hanson Interiors is a full-service firm that thrives off of the beauty of the mountains and the energy of their inhabitants.

“We have so many skilled artists and builders to collaborate with,” says Hanson, who moved to the area in 2009 after she finished her interior design degree in Wisconsin. For her, working in the mountains has gone hand in hand with her creative career. She says that nature plays a daily role in her inspiration and that Whitefish has a certain character that structures her work.

Zetooney agrees, “Whitefish is like a melting pot of incredible people. We get to meet people from so many different backgrounds who love this city as much as we do.” With people coming into the valley from all over the nation and the world, Zetooney and Hanson manage several different projects with many different styles to help their clients furnish their own Whitefish dream homes.

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“We have so many skilled artists and builders to collaborate with.”
-Shaina Hanson, Zetooney Hanson Interiors

As you can imagine, that melting pot of visitors brings in a wide variety of tastes and preferences, all of which Zetooney and Hanson take into account when tackling furniture selections. “I remember being told in design school that I had to find one aesthetic niche, but we really design for each individual client, so we do anything from traditional to modern to mountain or rustic,” says Zetooney. “What we always bring to the table is an element of clean consistency for each piece.”

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While they do not limit themselves to any specific aesthetic, Zetooney and Hanson work well with transitional designs and always include eclectic elements to bring character to spaces. “A driver for us is keeping pieces as timeless as possible,” explains Zetooney. “A lot of clients need their big investment pieces like sofas or dining room tables to stand the test of time.”

When looking to be both timeless and trendy, homeowners should choose clean lines, neutral tones, and natural materials for larger pieces. Once a durable design is in place, Zetooney and Hanson suggest layering in more fun, stylish pieces that can be replaced over time.

“Trendy things like lamps or rugs are examples of pieces that people might admit to replacing in five years anyway,” says Hanson. “There, you can get really creative with fun new textures and diverse color palettes.” Both she and Zetooney emphasize that they steer away from any pieces that are overly ornate, but choose interesting details that provide a rustic, global feel. For both timeless and trendy selections, they collect and coordinate many different elements and textures to create a rich, cohesive space.

“We love every room,” says Hanson when asked which space is their favorite to design. “Every space tells a story. One of our favorite spaces to design is the kitchen. The heart of the home, kitchens can set the tone for the rest of the space—a place where all the design elements come together, with flooring, counters, tile, plumbing, and furniture.”

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“One of our favorite spaces to design is the kitchen. The heart of the home, kitchens can set the tone for the rest of the space—a place where all the design elements come together with flooring, counters, tile, plumbing, and furniture.”

-Shaina Hanson, Zetooney Hanson Interiors

The biggest thing the two suggest for new clients? Measure your spaces. “Many times people will go shopping and see a sofa or dining room table that they love and bring it home to find that it doesn’t fit into their house,” explains Zetooney. Hanson adds that online shopping has not helped the problem. If buying a shirt that fits online is a gamble, finding a sofa that fits is just as risky.

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“I remember being told in design school that I had to find one aesthetic niche, but we really design for each individual client, so we do anything from traditional to modern to mountain or rustic.”
-Jennifer Zetooney, Zetooney Hanson Interiors

“Space planning is a really big deal and I think that people often forget about that,” says Zetooney. “When selecting furniture pieces for longevity, it’s important to consider the scale so that it will fit into future spaces, whether that’s within the current home or in future homes.” In an industry of shifting sizes, materials, fabrics, and trends, Zetooney and Hanson have made an art of selecting pieces for each client to find just the right fit.

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Breathing Life into Your Space

The Bungalow

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Whitefish, like many resort towns in the West, is no ordinary small town. Its population is made up of both perennial and seasonal residents, many from different corners of the planet who have come together to call this extraordinary place home. Jill Lamberson, owner of The Bungalow, understands that cultural diversity, and her work extends into artistic and biodiversity as well.

“I would not consider building a business like mine anywhere but Whitefish,” says Lamberson. “It’s so vibrant and so moving. Having such an assorted clientele transfers to an open-mindedness in my work which allows me to dive into projects that I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to try.”

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“People used to think of houseplants as something they saw in their Grandmother’s house.”
–Jill Lamberson, The Bungalow

Lamberson’s is the floral and botanical business. It is also the art, design, and communication business. Hers is the job of connecting interiors with the outdoors, and of connecting clients with living furnishings that will grow alongside their homeowning journeys. It’s also artistic work, creative work that represents an industry experiencing a booming renaissance.

“People used to think of houseplants as something they saw in their grandmother’s house,” says Lamberson, who describes the Teleflora arrangements of carnations, daisies, and mums reminiscent of Mother’s Days past.

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Gone are the days of plants living in the dusty corners of homes, as some species have become so popular that several, like the fiddle-leaf fig tree, are nearly impossible to find. Lamberson elaborates, “In the last ten years there has been a huge movement in the flower and plant industry toward local, organic, and sometimes foraged products that provide a beautifully natural, free-flowing style. We’re experiencing a resurgence of viewing floral as an artistic form standing alongside crafts like painting, sculpture, or pottery.”

Like any artist, Lamberson works at her craft to produce authentic flower arrangements and botanical selections rooted both in the landscape of Montana and also in the character of her clients as they furnish to bring life to their homes.

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“Clients will walk into the shop and become enraptured with a plant and need it for their coffee table. Just like you would pick out the right piece of furniture for a room in your home, choosing the right plant for a space takes just as much consideration,” says Lamberson. When working with a client to pick the right arrangement or plant, she considers color, scale, light availability (remember, plants survive on photosynthesis!), and needs of the clients themselves.

Her work falls in line with progressions of design, as architects and builders continue to demand more natural light, more open space, and less of a divide between the indoors and the natural world. “With new builds, you can put a plant almost anywhere in a home and it’s going to have two- to three-directional light, which makes my job a lot easier,” says Lamberson. She adds that she’s attracted to ferns and succulents because they are visually beautiful, low-maintenance, and transferable between the inside and outdoors.

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“Clients will walk into the shop and become enraptured with a plant and need it for their coffee table. Just like you would pick out the right piece of furniture for a room in your home, Choosing the right plant for a space takes just as much consideration.”
–Jill Lamberson, The Bungalow

And for the winter and spring? Snow and cold temperatures do not mean that plant life cannot thrive in the home. “It’s really important this time of year to bring foliage inside,” urges Lamberson. “During the winter, we live in a white or brown world. Just a flower stem in a vase will shine in any room. You can put a single peony stem on your bedside table, and every time you walk by and see its pop of color and smell its scent, it’s going to enhance your experience of your space.”

In Lamberson’s experience, once clients have experienced the vibrance of well-selected flora in their home, they will never go without it again. She explains the place of natural pieces in a man-made environment: “You can have a perfectly assembled room, furniture in place, accessories set, and a plant will finish the space. It breathes life into the air, brings oxygen and humidity into the environment, and is healthy for you. You can’t help but notice it. It makes your soul smile.”

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Take Risks & Glean Rewards

Hunter & Company Interior Design

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Hunter Dominick’s work is four-fold. First and foremost, she works as an interior designer with her team at the full-service firm that she founded, Hunter & Company Interior Design. Beyond that, her job also includes the terms “communicator,” “artist,” and “matchmaker.” She communicates between the Montana landscape and her projects, as well as her clients and their visions, while artfully detailing those dreams and matching each home with the accoutrements for which it was made.

“We go through a process with all of our clients to learn who they are and how they will best use their spaces,” Dominick says, noting that homeowners should ideally begin planning for furnishings six months before move-in. “There are intimacies of the process that allow us to functionally get to know our clients well. I like to help them meet their furnishing needs while encouraging them to choose pieces that are not necessarily safe.”

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“There are intimacies of the process that allow us to functionally get to know our clients well. I like to help them meet their furnishing needs while encouraging them to choose pieces that are not necessarily safe.”
–Hunter Dominick, Hunter & Company Interior Design

Safety in this case may be equated to the expected, like the basic furniture selections one can find at any generic furniture store or online. It is the talent of the designer to help make selections beyond the obvious to give a space an individual character that speaks to the lives that enter it. For some homeowners, that might be a specific pop of color, or a painting from a certain artist, or textures reminiscent of far-off travels.

“The more interjection of individual style, the better,” says Dominick, who pulls from several different mountain styles to create cohesive room-to-room designs. “Your house has a story; it can weave together different narratives to reflect you and your experiences. It doesn’t have to be just one style; it’s more like a quilt.”

Like any good story, the furnishing of a home should have several tones and represent many themes in one cohesive narrative. In threading together different styles, Dominick strives to bring interest to a space, whether in the form of a statement piece, pop of texture, or vibrant color.

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“The more interjection of individual style, the better. Your house has a story. it can weave together different narratives to reflect you and your experiences. It doesn’t have to be just one style; it’s more like a quilt.”
–Hunter Dominick, Hunter & Company Interior Design

“I think people are afraid of color,” she says, noting that the greys and whites of contemporary design are beginning to loose their appeal in many markets. “I love color. You can introduce it into any room in the form of a chair, backsplash, bench, or rug and it can change the energy of the space.” Dominick adds that less is more when it comes to bright colors, and that a small detail can enhance an entire room.

She enjoys designing powder rooms, bunkrooms, and even wine cellars because those are spaces where people are willing to take greater risks with their designs. She likes to bring that energy into other spaces like kitchens and great rooms by inserting small, personal details that shine in an otherwise typical space.

“A lot of texture will get you a long way,” Dominick notes, describing how to bring charisma to rooms in need of inspiration. “If you have a room surrounded by hard surfaces, like a kitchen, a flashy, textured fabric barstool will create a sense of softness. Or, in a modern great room, you can layer with a lot of textures around a stone fireplace with a velvet sofa, wool chairs, and a bright pillow. You can even go tone on tone, as long as you have texture.”

In these words, one can glean a sense of balance achieved by Dominick’s design. Although so much of what she chooses might sound bold at first, it in fact brings poise to the themes of a space, the function of the furnishings, and the contentment of those who own the home. In these ways, the perceived risk is well worth the reward.

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