Architecture, design firm feels at home in Bonner
An award-winning architecture and design firm has discovered the small-town feel of Bonner Springs is the best fit for their business.
BnB Design Architecture & Interiors recently moved into the former location of Miller’s Too, 108 N. Nettleton Ave. Just a week after the gift store moved out, BnB took over and remodeled the former house, which the owners say is turning out to be the perfect home for the design firm.
“We really like the small-town feel that Bonner Springs gives you, but it’s still very close to the city, because we do projects all over the city,” Kit Bolling, co-owner of the firm, said.
Owners Erin Bardon, an architect, and Bolling, an interior designer, started the small firm in 2003, doing mostly commercial projects from small office expansion and renovations, to full-floor tenant finish projects or “ground up” new construction.
BnB includes one other full-time employee — Jeffrey Sperling, an architect who serves as a project manager — and a handful of contract workers. The contract workers are part of what has allowed the firm to complete projects of all sizes across the country in its eight years, despite the small staff. Bardon and Bolling say they haven’t worked on hospitals or K-12 education, but otherwise, their projects can be anywhere from 1,000 to 119,000 square feet.
“There's not a big or little — we run the gamut,” Bardon said.
They are a contract holder with the U.S. General Services Administration and have been featured in the Architectural Record, the Wall Street Journal and Kansas City Homes and Gardens.
The firm received the Cornerstone Award in 2006 from the Kansas City, Mo., Economic Development Corporation for the preservation of an existing building interior and renovation of the building’s interior.
Projects they have completed include visitors’ centers for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Child Development Centers at Fort Riley. They do the bulk of their work in the Kansas City metropolitan area and the Midwest, but the have done projects as far away as New York and Hawaii with existing clients.
BnB is also LEED-certified to create environmentally-friendly projects. The firm boasts one platinum-level LEED-certified project, one gold-level project and several silver-level projects.
Bardon and Bolling said that using contract workers allows a small firm to get top-notch people.
“In this economy, the beauty of having contract people is that you can kind of pick the best skill set for a project,” Bolling said. “So we have a couple of people that we bring on as the contract requires them... so it allows us to keep our overhead low and give the best service for our clients.”
With so much success over the years, Bardon and Bolling say they could see their firm growing a little bit in the future, but not to more than 10 full-time employees.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to be 100 people,” Bardon said.
The small staff also helps with client relations.
“We've really kind of carved out a niche for ourselves in client relations,” Bolling said, explaingi that they are able to react quickly to clients wants and needs. “Our clients become more than just clients — there's a relationship that develops, and we really become part of the project.”
“We pride ourselves on maintaining the clients we have and kind of nurturing those relationships,” Bardon added.
Formerly located in Lenexa, Bardon and Bolling said they wanted to move to find a more middle ground location,” as Bolling lives in the Northland, while Bardon lives in Lenexa. They looked for a new location in the Kansas City, Kan., area, but they liked the Bonner location because both grew up in small towns.
The former house also allowed the firm to “put their mark” on the building in a way that other commercial spaces wouldn’t. They gutted the building and put in all-new electrical, HVAC, plumbing, drywalls and paint, with new landscaping coming soon, allowing them to really make the house a home for their firm. Now, they have joined the chamber of commerce and say they are ready to get to know the firm’s new home town better.
“We’re really excited about being part of the community,” Bardon said.