From the Outside In

The founder of Flower Hardware has expanded into interiors. Her own remodeled home is her best advertisement.

By Dina Mishev ∙ Photography by Tuck Fauntleroy

Cecelia Heffernan’s kitchen table is “a very simple iron garden table,” she says. “It was the perfect size for my space, so I brought it inside.” She paired it with French leather 1930s chairs found on a buying trip in Paris. “My buying trips span Europe—mainly France and Belgium—and all over the U.S. I love the hunt,” she says. “My next buying trip is planned for Scandinavia.” The horse head is by folk artist O.L. Samuels, whose work is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Heffernan says Samuels carved this piece from driftwood in front of a classroom of schoolkids “to show them how to sculpt. Not everyone would love this, but I fell in love with it because it looks like my horse, Iris.”

“I’ll always be a florist,” says Cecelia Heffernan, who opened Flower Hardware in Wilson in 2000 when she was only in her twenties, and soon after authored two books about plants and flowers. For most of the first decade of this century, your event in Jackson Hole wasn’t an event unless Heffernan had done the flowers and décor. She brought a style to flowers that hadn’t yet been seen in the valley. Heffernan expanded from flowers into landscaping and enjoyed continued success. And then she seemed to disappear, although Flower Hardware, which eventually moved from a large space in The Aspens on Teton Village Road to its current (smaller) location just east of the Town Square, has never closed. “I was at a transition where I either needed to get bigger or smaller,” she says. “I downsized.”

While she pulled back on work, Heffernan’s creativity never ebbed. “My mind doesn’t stop, even if I’d like it to. I’ll see a dress in my closet I haven’t worn in ages, and I’ll get a vision for a new dress to create out of it. I can’t help myself.” Or, she’ll see a ramshackle, two-story rectangular building constructed in the 1970s and “immediately see the gorgeous finished product.”

“My mind doesn’t stop, even if I’d like it to. I’ll see a dress in my closet I haven’t worn in ages, and I’ll get a vision for a new dress to create out of it. I can’t help myself.”
[ Cecelia Heffernan, homeowner ]

Heffernan spotted that 1970s house, on Millward Street in downtown Jackson, around 2000. “It was the cheapest house in town,” she says. But price was only part of the reason she asked her friend, a real estate agent, to show it to her. “I saw what it could be,” she says. The building was in such bad shape that her friend wouldn’t get out of the car and go in with her. “He told me I shouldn’t buy it,” Heffernan says.

But she had seen its future—it’d need a top-to-bottom remodel, but it would be a gorgeous home. (At the time, the ground level was being used as a day care center and the top floor was an apartment.) Heffernan bought it, but didn’t start remodeling right away. “I’m such a particular person,” she says. “I didn’t want to skimp on anything, so I didn’t do anything until I could afford it.” Around 2010, finances and necessity lined up. “It got to the point where it needed to be torn down or renovated,” she says.

Today, Heffernan says she’s still not finished—she’ll start on the detached garage in the back this summer—but the house itself “looks just like I knew it would when I bought it.” Relaxing on an early 1900s French leather club chair in the bright, concrete-floored living room, Heffernan says, “I am very good at transforming existing spaces. I think that was why I was good at parties and weddings. But I really love the remodel process.”

Heffernan grew up in Augusta, Georgia, with a mother who was “a big gardener and flower person.” When young Heffernan got in trouble, the punishment was yardwork, which wasn’t much of a deterrent since she loved it. Still, Heffernan never planned on being a florist. But then she moved to Jackson and couldn’t find flowers she liked. For a dinner party she was hosting, she went to Albertsons—the only big grocery store in the valley at the time—bought plants and “cut them up and made arrangements,” she says. Guests “went crazy over the flowers, and I was like, ‘This could be a thing here.’ ”

When young Heffernan got in trouble, the punishment was yardwork, which wasn’t much of a deterrent since she loved it.

Despite her talent, success, and interest, Heffernan says she is “the worst person to be a florist. I’m a perfectionist and all about quality. I jeopardize my profit to make the product perfect.” Also, flowers are so ephemeral. “I remember I’d do a wedding or a big party, and I’d go to clean up the day after and it was so sad.” She found landscaping more satisfying and also enjoyed the hard goods she began to stock at Flower Hardware. “It was very rewarding for me to find the perfect objects for people’s gardens, and even houses,” she says.

As she began cutting back the number of projects she took on, Heffernan also sought to expand the scope of the ones she did accept—growing from focusing on just plants and flowers to creating overall interiors. She founded CH Garden House Design about two years ago. Her goal with Garden House isn’t to become the valley’s “it” designer, but to work with clients who “appreciate the extra steps we’ll have to do to get a really great finished product,” she says.

Hallmarks of Heffernan’s finished spaces are timelessness and authenticity. She says, “I am very careful to pick details with the consideration of, ‘Will I still like this years from now?’ and ‘Will this hold up over time?’ ” In her own home, she carefully considered every detail, from faucets to doorknobs, lighting, cabinets, and materials, and says, “eight to ten years later, the house has aged really well.” (She even had Rocky Mountain Hardware fabricate doorknobs that she designed; the company now sells Heffernan’s design as part of its line.) Her living room has old, peeling plant urns sitting on mid-1970s stone cubes. “I love mixing looks,” she says. “The result is always a unique space.”

Remodeling the living and kitchen/dining area of a client, Heffernan mixed 1970s details—including a de Sede sofa—with eclectic touches like vintage Navajo pillows, an antique wood trunk she had painted a high-gloss white, and a 1960s Renato Zevi chrome rocking chair. The result is a surprisingly modern-looking space. “Many clients have said they like my style because it doesn’t look like an interior designer did it,” she says. “I remind them I am not an interior designer. I’m more of a life stylist.”

A 1940s German leather gym bench sits inside the front door, which, along with all of the interior doors, Heffernan designed herself. The concrete floor is acid stained and polished and purposely was not scored. “I have always loved old concrete floors in warehouses and specifically asked my contractor to not score the concrete to prevent cracking because I love the cracks and blemishes of worn concrete,” she says.

The first thing Heffernan did after buying this house was to plant evergreens in the front yard. “I wanted the house to be nestled, almost hidden, in the trees,” she says. The rest of the home’s landscaping is green and white. The antique garden urns are planted with simple green moss and the exterior sconces are from Urban Electric Company in Charleston, South Carolina.

The guest room on the main floor has become Heffernan’s study. “This is one of my favorite rooms because it has a door and window into my side garden, which is very beautiful. It is a great place to escape,” she says. The leather chaise is a Charles Limbert from the early 1900s and the orange chair, still upholstered in its original fabric, is 1960s Italian.

Heffernan didn’t want to spend a lot of money on ceiling lighting so she could instead splurge on decorative fixtures. In the upstairs hallway she used porcelain keyless fixtures and “dressed them up by using silver tip light bulbs,” she says. “I love long hallways and kept my walls clean and simple to elongate the hallway to the end room. The quiet hallway is a nice aesthetic before entering the decorated space at the end.”

“My bathroom is my escape,” Heffernan says. “The burnished metal bathtub is my most favorite spot to relax. Being in this room always feels like an indulgence.” She created a classic, luxe aesthetic by combining timeless materials like Statuary marble for the counters and tile, slate floors, and walnut cabinetry with modern faucets, lighting, and mirrors. Her cat, P-Tat, approves of the sinks.

Great Dane-border collie mix Oscar, a rescue, makes himself at home beneath a 1960s nude artwork Heffernan found at an antique street fair in Belgium. “I fell in love with it,” she says. “The painting is very funky, but the colors and shades are beautiful.” The nightstand is a circa 1830 Biedermeier cupboard and is graced by a mid-century architect lamp. The small table was an unexpected flea market find. Heffernan found its lines lovely and elegant.

Heffernan reupholstered this 1960s sofa in an electric blue mohair fabric. She found the fabric on a buying trip; it was a set of old theater curtains. “I purchased the curtains because I loved the color,” she says. On the wall behind the sofa is Silent Trees by artist Mike Piggott. Heffernan dug out the garden urn, which is one of a set, while at an estate sale. “They have chips and cracks, but I love how the age and patina plays against the mix of other interior elements.”

| Posted in Features
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