By Melissa Zoeller
Special to The Voice-Tribune
As I enter Bittners, fall is hinting at its arrival and a slight touch of cooler weather is in the air. Weasy MacLean, the newest designer at Bittners, who is waiting for me in the main showroom, warmly greets me.
We walk together to a beautifully appointed whitewashed design room overlooking Main Street. The room is a vision of blacks, browns and neutrals. A large, rectangular reclaimed dark wood dining table beckons us.
The buffet table to our side is adorned with two emerald green Han horse statues that command to be seen. Intricately carved cream vases are placed throughout the room. An ornate glass and wood cabinet sits in the distance. As we settle into the lovely cushioned cream dining chairs around the table, her love of design comes through as our conversation begins.
Why did you choose to go into design?
I grew up surrounded by interior design. My mother, Weasy Blodgett, started out as a designer at Bittners and had instilled in me from a very young age a passion for the craft. It stayed with me as a hobby for years, but I took other career paths before realizing that what I truly love and am inspired by is design. I couldnâ€™t deny that, so I decided to take the leap and make my passion my career!
What is your background?Â
My father, Angus MacLean, and his family owned The Wood-Mosaic Corporation. It was an international wood flooring company. This experience gave me a true appreciation for what wood can do for a space. After graduating from the University of Colorado with a degree in environmental conservation, I was an independent consultant for many years before taking a position with Kentucky Boardworks. I had the pleasure of working with reclaimed wood and overseeing log cabin building, flooring, beams and furniture. I learned so much about the creativity aspect of what you can do with wood, using the texture and patina to create warmth within the home. Bittners brought me on in January of 2012 and I couldnâ€™t ask for any better situation!
What do you love about design?
Creativity in tandem with problem solving. Each client is looking for something truly unique, something that fits their personality perfectly; aesthetically pleasing but also practical for their lifestyle. Itâ€™s like putting a puzzle together, letting me use both my creative and analytical side, which I love.
What are some current design trends you see?
Clean lines, simple neutrals, but with a hint of industrial and mid-century modern. The focus is on warmth and textures mixed with your own personality, lifestyle and style of home â€“ nothing too formal. Open and spacious, but still comfortable continue on in many homes.Â The use of reclaimed wood and green design, mixing the old with the new, is also very popular right now.
What inspires you?
I find inspiration in the most unexpected places â€“ nature, friends, children, lifestyles. I take note to how everyone relates to one another. I love to sit back, observe and see what others may not take the time to see. Itâ€™s truly awe-inspiring.
What are some of your career highlights?
Right now, working at Bittners, is my career highlight. I am so fortunate to get to work with a great team of designers at a firm that has been leading Louisville in design for 150 years.Â Itâ€™s the ultimate name to have behind you in Louisville.
Who inspires you?
My mother put the design bug in me early on. Today, the Bittners team, led by Douglas Riddle, President of Bittners, inspires me everyday to create beautiful homes for my clients.
What is your design philosophy?
Practical but aesthetic; comfortable and inviting.Â We want to design for the way you live, so that all clients have what is aesthetically pleasing for them as well functional and comfortable.
For example, it is great to take a house that is outdated and not as functional and make it fit to todayâ€™s needs. Relating to a clientâ€™s lifestyle and persona and creating the perfect, functional space for them is the ultimate goal. Bittners understands the client, how they live and want to work.Â We just donâ€™t redecorate.Â We truly â€œdesign for the way you live.â€
What are your design strengths at Bittners?
The endless resources that Bittners offers are priceless and the knowledge is invaluable. We are truly the only â€œfull-serviceâ€ design firm in Louisville.Â We have an extensive inventory all â€œunder one roof,â€ the areaâ€™s largest resource room, on-site master craftsmen, very talented & energized design staff, a large diversified showroom, our own delivery personnel and ultimately a long, respected 150 years of design history.
What type of community service are you involved in?
I am on the boards of Anchorage Childrenâ€™s Theatre and the MacLean Family Foundation. As well, I work with the Art Discovery program, Junior Great Books, Junior Achievement and Anchorage Childrenâ€™s Theatre. In Art Discovery, six local artists are chosen each year for the students to learn about their work and create projects related to their art medium. The Anchorage Childrenâ€™s Theatre is a wonderful program which is a great confidence builder and self-esteem booster. It definitely helps the kids discover different abilities they didnâ€™t know they had. My son discovered he could sing!
What are you grateful for?Â
My children, Angus and Stuart, along with my parents and family are truly my rock. Laura Frazier and Douglas Riddle, for all that they have done for me here at Bittners. They took a leap of faith in me and I am forever grateful for that. They are wonderful to work for!Â And I am very grateful to my clients!
What is one thing most people donâ€™t know about you?
That Calculus was my favorite and best subject in school.
Q&A with WEASY MACLEAN
Hobbies: Travel, learning new cultures, riding horses, golfing, tennis, skiing.
Favorite book: â€œWaldenâ€ by Henry David Thoreau.
Most admired artist: Willie MacLean, photographer & my brother.
Best restaurant: Mayan CafÃ©, Harvest.
Favorite movie: â€œWuthering Heightsâ€ with Laurence Olivier.
Favorite vacation spot: Lac Desert, Quebec.
Most proud of: My two sons, Angus & Stuart.
Best advice you ever received: â€œDonâ€™t worry about what others think.â€