Bittners Designer Crystal Smith shares her craft
By Elizabeth Scinta
Photos by Kathryn Harrington
Gardening recently became a hobby for many people during quarantine, but for Crystal Smith, gardening has always been a part of her daily routine. Smith, an interior designer at Bittners, began gardening as a young child when her parents created their garden. She now has her own garden at her home where she grows a variety of vegetables depending on the season. When the shutdown occurred, Smith was able to dedicate more time and energy to working and appreciating her garden. “I found gardening more relaxing because I was able to spend a lot of time and actually sit out and enjoy it during quarantine,” Smith said.
Smith prefers to shop for her garden from a farm in southern Kentucky called Peace Valley Farms. She likes to prioritize shopping locally, so she tries to get all of her vegetable seeds from them. Since her supplies are sourced from local farmers, she had no trouble getting the items she needed during the quarantine. Her garden is full of a variety of different vegetables, often changing depending on the season or her mood, according to Smith. “Right now, I’m obsessed with my tomatoes because they’re ripe. I’m thinking of all of these different things to make like salsa, tomato pie, etc. I’m currently canning whole tomatoes to use in my cooking,” Smith said.
Gardens should be full of plants that you’ll enjoy and eat, not just a random sampling of seeds. Everyone will have their own preference of what to include in their garden, so there’s no wrong way to go about picking which vegetables to plant according to Smith. She likes to try new things, and this season she planted raspberries and eggplant for the first time.
Gardening can be tricky if you go into it with little to no previous knowledge, but learning a few tips can help a garden go a long way. “Learn how to space your plants properly. It’s important to know how much space every plant will take up so that different plants aren’t overlapping each other. Knowing how much space a squash plant will take versus a pepper plant, for example. It’s something I still struggle with, but it’s very important,” Smith said.
The quarantine allowed Smith to step back and appreciate her garden more than she usually does, and through that process, she recognized the similarities between gardening and interior design. “Both bring me joy. Both involve a process and starting with the right things. For gardening, you have to start with good soil, and for interior design, you have to start with a good foundation,” Smith said.
Smith has been an interior designer for ten years in Louisville, beginning her career at Tassels for four years, and now she’s been at Bittners for six years. Interior design isn’t a career for everyone, but for Smith, she said it comes naturally to her because she’s always been a naturally creative person. “Even as a kid, I would move furniture around in my room, redecorating and getting into my creative side,” Smith said. Creative-minded people always need some kind of outlet in their lives, and for Smith, that is interior design. Going through the process from start to finish and selecting items to complete a project are what encourage Smith to keep interior designing.
For many businesses, quarantine stopped the daily grind of work, but for Smith, work never let up. Construction on projects was able to continue because they were able to social distance, so projects that had begun before quarantine continued. Moving her office at Bittners to her home presented a lot of challenges for Smith, but it also brought along lots of new skills. “I got a lot more comfortable using social media platforms, such as Facebook and Zoom, because I don’t think I felt uber comfortable using them before. It definitely came with challenges too, including many meltdowns from my 3 and 5-year-old during Zoom calls, but everyone was in the same situation and very understanding,” Smith said.
All kinds of challenges arose for different people during quarantine due to the unprecedented nature of switching from working in an office to working at home. One way to make this less challenging and feel a bit more normal is to spruce up your at-home office. Smith recommends adding some kind of greenery to your office, such as an indoor house plant. It gives that organic feel of something natural in your space that might help alleviate stress. If keeping plants alive is the last thing you want to have on your plate, consider adding a low-maintenance plant, such as a succulent or a faux plant. “I have orchids in my office at Bittners and I loved being able to see them bloom or about to bloom. Seeing the beautiful flowers everyday lifts me up and makes me feel good,” Smith said.
Another way to spiff up your at-home workspace or home in general is by implementing small changes, such as moving artwork around or pulling things out of storage. “Try recycling some old pieces from your attic or storage spaces into a new space. Mix the old things with the newer things for a fresh look,” Smith said. Another effortless way to change up a room is with new pillows, according to Smith. Changing throw pillows seasonally is an easy way to reflect the feeling you want in the room. It also gives you a fresh new look every few months, according to Smith.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Whether it’s changing your home around or planting your first seed in your vegetable garden, you could be unleashing a hidden talent. Whether you’re looking for gardening tips or an interior designer, Crystal Smith is a woman of many talents and is sure to help you find that extra something you or your space needs.
731 East Main St.
Louisville, KY 40202