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Kimberly von Koontz designs things that grow. Dahlias, carnations, daisies, and varieties of meadow grasses are just some of the many things she cultivates and lives with—and shares with others for whom she designs. After years of working in women’s fashion, architecture, and storefront design in Europe and Asia, she tired of the obsession with “the new, new, new,” especially in the world of clothing and accessories.

“I got to a place in my life where my values shifted,” she says from her home in upstate New York, a 1713 stone cottage she has dubbed “Maison Mignon,” or what translates as “Petite House.” She now refers to herself and the work she does as that of landscape designer.

Her passion for authenticity in design and materials is embodied in what she calls her “surrogate office,” the centuries-old dwelling built by Dutch immigrants in Wallkill, New York, a Hudson Valley town situated an hour and a half north from her other home in Manhattan. She shares the petite home with her seven-month-old son, Romeo Augustus, whose name pays homage to her love of all things Italian. When von Koontz saw a photo of the cottage in a real estate ad, she responded immediately. “I found it on the internet,” she says, “and sent the owner a deposit, sight unseen. I thought, ‘I could work with anything on the inside with an exterior like that.’”

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This story appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of MILIEU.