Tag Archives: basement

Radiant Replacements

October 2, 2017 by
Photography by Tom Grady

The goal of this remodeling project was to transform a dark and narrow basement with separate rooms into an open and bright space with multiple functions. The improved lower level is now inviting and provides a theater area, bar, conversation/sleeping area, and a sound-proof space for the clients’ teenage son’s drumming practice. 

Exterior alterations by Stan Construction included changing the small sliding door to a larger door and adding a sidelight for increased natural light. Elite Landscaping created the stone wall, steps, and gate for an easy, private approach for guests.

Inside, the previous solid stair wall was changed and improved with an open railing to allow for additional light and better connection to the main level. Two existing bedrooms were reconfigured to become the theater area and drum room. The theater space was kept open, allowing the homeowners to use a large projection screen for crowds while visually widening the space. Ambience and comfort in the theater space was achieved through the leather reclining theater seats and surround sound, along with picture and baseboard pin dot lighting. The lights, sound system, and blackout shades are all controlled though use of mobile phones or iPads. A communications system with the front door allows the family to easily answer the door to guests while enjoying the basement.

Insulation made of sound board with acoustical covering provides essential sound-proofing in the basement’s drum room. Quality sound levels in the space allow an optimum recording environment for the aspiring musician.   

In the bathroom, a small acrylic shower was replaced—the shower now takes the whole width of the bathroom. Frameless glass doors visually enlarge the space, displaying the limestone-look tile with pebble accents. The open vanity adds to the visually spacious feel. 

The bar area contains the game and shuffleboard tables. The bar is set off with an arched soffit and accented with a large granite top and ledger stone side wall displaying floating wine bottles. The amenities include a large granite sink, a pop-up outlet to allow for serving hot dishes, a dishwasher, and an ice maker. The back bar includes a Wolf microwave, double sets of sub-zero refrigerator drawers and a sub-zero glass-front wine refrigerator. Cabinet storage and floating shelves with backlit LED lighting adorn a plate glass mirror. 

Finishes reflect the feeling of Montana, the family’s second home. The wood-look tile is durable and easy to care for at the patio entrance, around the bar, and in the bath. 

Warm granite colors were used as well as a dark stain on the cabinets. Furnishings were selected for their timeless appeal. The larger pieces are mostly in neutrals, with pops of turquoise and orange in the accessories and artwork. Furniture selected for the conversation area can be transformed into sleepers since the sectioned-off bedrooms were eliminated. The sofa becomes a queen-sized bed, and the oversized chair turns into a twin-sized bed.

The lower level is used by the whole family. The teenage son loves to entertain here while the parents enjoy having their friends over for a glass of wine, a movie, or a friendly game of shuffleboard. The couple’s adult sons and their families, who live out of state, feel comfortable inviting old friends over for fun-filled parties. It’s inviting, functional, and captures the needs of every age group that uses the space.

Visit idgomaha.com/designers to learn more about Wiechman’s work.

This article appears in the September/October 2017 edition of Omaha Home.

A Glamorous, Functional Basement Remodel

August 14, 2017 by
Photography by Tom Grady

Seeking a grand basement remodel, a client came to me with hopes of creating a unified space with smaller intimate areas instead of an open floor plan. The original space felt very disconnected with no visual interest.

My solution focused on two separate spaces of the floor plan. Both sections of the basement would feature multiple functions: one area revolved around a sunken kitchenette/bar, and the other was an empty space transformed into a theater/display area.

The first part of the challenge was to create a properly lit display while providing storage within the bar area. We needed to add a dynamic visual element without altering the integrity of the existing brick veneer.

Our solution was to add horizontal reclaimed wood panels that pull the whole space together while providing a pub-like entertaining area. The resulting contemporary space makes use of layers of depth and dimension to provide a central focal point for social gatherings.

The asymmetrical design of the sunken bar area is enhanced with LED lighting, which further enhances the sophisticated environment. Bespoke finishes infuse rustic charm into the modern basement, forming the perfect union of domestic utility and alluring elegance. Displayed sentimental objects stand in harmonious contrast with time-worn salvaged materials and the interplay of light and shadow.

A large circle on the bar wall offers a crucial design element unifying the space. The scale of the circle balances the weightiness of the massive bar. Radiant light offsets and enhances the circle, giving the illusion that it is floating in air. The circle’s LED under-lit shelves provides plenty of space for the liquor bottles, and the offset shelving allows for additional personal items to be displayed.

By adding the walnut shell and lights to the existing metallic wood console table, it became repurposed and connected to the bar area.

Two guitars on an adjacent wall, mounted on a wooden circle, became a piece of art grounding the empty space leading to the guest bathroom.

To satisfy the clients, who are avid sports fans, the most challenging part of the basement’s theater space was to showcase their collection of jerseys while allowing the ability to watch multiple televisions at once. At the center of this design, I strived to cultivate a sensory experience that transcends the utilitarian functionality of the theater setting. Contemporary aesthetics find a careful balance of personal whims and fancies in the second of the basement’s main spaces. Relaxing here, the homeowners feel like they are in a high-end Las Vegas casino private suite while watching their favorite teams play.

The design conceptualization for the theater and display area stems from a faithful adherence to well-defined boundaries. JaDecor wall covering offers remarkable appearance with excellent acoustical properties. The round custom fiber optics and the dark-oak Melinga panels in the ceiling add spectacular visual interest to the space that once was a rectangle tray.

I really wanted the sports theater walls to properly light their jersey collection—which changes annually—while not interfering with the theater environment. Back-lighting the twelve individual panels with LED strip lights cleverly works into the overall aesthetic. The picture lights illuminate the symmetry of the jerseys and provide a side drop for the TV wall.

The purposeful ornamentation of the jerseys provides a dramatic display satisfying even the most discerning homeowner.

The experience of the finished project is such an amazing space to entertain and enjoy life with family and friends.

From the bar to the theater, and across the entire basement, the overall design embodies simplicity and modern functionality, leaving a lasting impression that makes you want to enjoy the space in good company.

The end result achieves the client’s goal of balancing personal expression and functional glamour with youthful exuberance. It is a welcoming space for any time of the day—and any season—for many years to come.

Visit artisticodesign.net to see more of the designer’s work.

This article was printed in the July/August 2017 Edition of Omaha Home.

Neutral, Natural, Notable

February 19, 2014 by and
Photography by Lisa Louise Photography

This west Omaha home in Five Fountains was featured in the Metro Omaha Builders Association 2007 Street of Dreams.  When the clients decided to move forward in bringing their dreams to reality with the finish of their basement, they selected KRT Construction as contractor along with Designer’s Touch interior designers Marian Holden, ASID, and Erin Svoboda, ASID. The client’s goal was to transform the unfinished basement into an exquisite space for entertaining, fitness, and 
children’s activities.

2-living-rm

A neutral color palette defines the space with rich shades of gray accompanied by cream trim. Dark alder doors punctuate a collection of natural elements, including rustic woods, leather, and stone. Shades of blue accent the palette while rich texture and large-scale patterns make up the furnishings in this space.

8backsplash

The professional eat-in kitchen features custom cabinetry with Arabesque White granite, metallic glass tile backsplash, brushed nickel cabinet hardware, and stainless appliances contrasting the French bronze lighting fixtures adorned with jewel-like crystals.

4-pooltable

Natural elements of stone and alder wood were integrated into the design to create a focal point in the entertaining space that is rustic yet sophisticated. Luxurious leather seating surrounds the fireplace for both TV viewing and entertaining. A custom metallic crocodile ottoman embellishes the space, along with custom shutters and window treatments.

5-weightroom

A fitness center boasts floor-to-ceiling glass, a mirrored wall, and resilient rubber flooring, all complementing the modern amenities of the space.

7-kids-rm

Hang out or study in the children’s area that hosts a glass marker board, custom cabinetry with corkboard, and polished chrome fixtures that play off a refined, purple 
wall color.

6-bedroom

A guest suite with adjoining bathroom overlooks the beautifully landscaped outdoor patio. The suite features luxurious bedding, custom window treatments, mirrored furnishings, glass accent tile, a charcoal-hued vanity, and crystal fixtures to add that 
finishing touch.

Let’s Dance!

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

For over 50 years, Dottie Dankof and her husband, Dan, have been partners in life as well as on the dance floor. The couple met while Dottie was an instructor with Arthur Murray Ballroom Dance. Today, Dottie says they try to go dancing four to six times a month. The Dankofs enjoy ballroom dancing, which includes the tango, the rumba, foxtrot, swing, and polka, among others. “We do all that stuff, but we favor the waltz,” she says.

One of the benefits of dancing that Dottie cites is the fact that it’s great exercise. “They say that it’s the one physical exercise you can do that works the whole body, and they’re right!” She also finds dance to be relaxing. “When you’re out dancing, you’re not thinking of all the other things [going on]. You’re just having so much fun!”

Gone are the days of seniors spending their retirement years rocking in the front-porch swing. Today, more and more folks ranging in age from their 60s to well into their 90s are doing swing moves on the dance floor.

“It’s really, really good exercise,” says Elizabeth Edwards, dance instructor and owner of Omaha Ballroom at 153rd and Q streets. “It’s [great] for memory, too.” Edwards explains that dancers have to remember a wide variety of dance steps and that keeps their minds and their bodies active. She shares that she and one of her students have a running joke: “When he forgets a dance move, he says he has waltz-heimers.”

Dottie and Dan Dankof

Dottie and Dan Dankof

Omaha Ballroom teaches all types of dance, but Edwards says that the seniors she works with are mainly interested in ballroom and swing. The instructors have also traveled to local retirement communities to teach lessons. Edwards is working on adding line dancing and Zumba Gold (Zumba for seniors) to their repertoire. She adds that such classes are good options for seniors who are single and may not feel comfortable dancing with an instructor.

As an instructor, Edwards meets many people who come to her studio to learn a dance for various reasons. “Some people just want to dance socially,” she says. For those, Omaha Ballroom offers what they call practice parties every Friday night. “They get a lesson and then everyone dances until 10 p.m.”

For others, who wish to pursue dance on a competitive level, Edwards and her staff can help their students achieve their goals. “We just kind of see what they’re interested in and then get them started in the right direction.”

“They say that it’s the one physical exercise you can do that works the whole body, and they’re right!” – Dottie Dankof

What would ballroom dancing be without a big band to provide the music? Thanks to the Greg Spevak Orchestra and Lonny Lynn Orchestra, local dancers won’t have to find out.

The Greg Spevak Orchestra has been playing for 43 years. “We used to play at the Music Box downtown…it’s not there anymore,” Spevak adds wistfully. The Peony Park Ballroom is another lost favorite. But today’s dancers are making memories at some other local ballroom hotspots. Of course, the Wahoo Starlight Ballroom is a favorite, as are Omaha Post 1 American Legion Hall and the Bluffs Center across the river, just to name a few. Both Spevak and Lynn play at the regular Wednesday dances hosted by the Center.

While the Greg Spevak Orchestra plays a wide variety of music—from ballroom, Latin, country, swing, and popular music from the 1950s through the mid-80s the Lynnvts Orchestra tends to stay with the Big Band Era. “But we mix a lot of Latin in throughout the evening,” Lynn adds.

Both band leaders say that the majority of their audiences are in their 60s and 70s, though it’s not uncommon to see dancers in their 80s and 90s grace the dance floor as well.

“These people move great…they dance every dance,” says Spevak. “It’s an aerobic exercise. I don’t know if I can keep up with them, to tell you the truth,” he laughs.

“If there’s a dance, the seniors don’t miss it,” says Lynn. “It’s their recreation and their social get-together.”

 “We have five or six parties a year where we hire a band and invite a bunch of our closest friends.” – Linda Todd

Lynn likes the fact that he has come to know a lot of the people who come to hear them regularly. “The people we attract to the dances…they have become like family.” He says that while he can’t remember everyone’s name, “I look at their face, I can remember their favorite song.”

Bob and Linda Todd of Gretna are regulars on the ballroom dance circuit and are close friends with the Dankofs. “We’ve been married for 20 years, so we’ve probably been dancing for 25 years,” Linda says. The couple enjoys dancing so much that they’ve built a ballroom in their basement. “We have five or six parties a year where we hire a band and invite a bunch of our closest friends.”

She adds that while they have participated in local dance classes, she and Bob often use DVDs to learn new dance steps for the convenience. “We want to learn the Argentine Tango,” she says.

Both the Todds and the Dankofs travel around the metro area to meet their friends and fellow dancers several times a month. “We enjoy socializing with our friends,” Linda says, adding that their group of friends range in age from 50 to 90. “It’s just a lot of fun, and we love it!”

Living a Legacy

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Susanne and Brent Nicholls decided to return to Omaha from the Denver area 10 years ago, they knew they wanted to live in Indian Hills, near Brent’s childhood home.

“I used to walk through the Arboretum to go to school at Swanson Elementary, and I wanted my sons to experience the same childhood memories that I did growing up in this neighborhood,” Brent explains.

From his office on one end of the house, Brent has a clear view through the living room and into the kitchen on the opposite as his boys—one in sixth grade at Swanson and the other a sophomore at Westside High School—wander in and out of the rooms in preparation for their after-school activities.

Designed by esteemed Omaha architect Stanley J. How, Jr. for himself and his family, the Nicholls’ 1963 ranch is a monument to the Mid-Century Modern suburban lifestyle and its many aesthetic traditions, including an open floor plan and floor-to-ceiling windows, that still endure today.

Gray slate tile, a marble sink, and wood planks on the ceiling lend a spa feel to the master bath.

The master bath has a “spa” feel with gray slate tile, a marble sink, and wood planks on the ceiling.

However, as idyllic as this case study in family life is, the Nicholls happened into their light-filled home almost by accident. While house-hunting, Brent ran into a former Westside classmate at a Husker game. His friend was in the process of purchasing the home, but the sale fell through due to water in the basement.

An energetic DIY guy, Brent was not one to be deterred by the dampness. It doesn’t hurt that Susanne, an engineer by trade, is not only supportive of his (sometimes) guerrilla handyman efforts, she is his partner in priming. “He likes to do the math,” she says of their synergistic reno strategy. “I’ve got the patience for multiple coats of poly.”

While the couple clearly delight in the updates they’ve made (in the basement, Brent points out that he had to drill through four to six inches of concrete to install wi-fi), they’re also ever mindful of the responsibility that comes with living in an iconic home.

New bamboo flooring the Nicholls installed throughout the main level unifies the space.

New bamboo flooring the Nicholls installed throughout the main level unifies the space.

Fortunately, just as the Nicholls began the challenging work of modernizing their ‘modern,’ they came into possession of archived Architectural Digests magazines from the era. The magazines, as well as a resource list of skilled craftsmen and contractors that the previous owners left behind, became a blueprint of sorts for preserving the home’s stylistic integrity while making it practical for modern life.

This is borne out in two of the couple’s biggest projects: the newly laid bamboo flooring that unifies the main floor and the master bath, which includes a marble sink that they ordered online from Italy; and slate floors that pick up on the black color scheme, which threads throughout the house.

“Our former home was arts and crafts style, and it was almost like each room had its own personality,” says Susanne. “Here, it’s nice to see continuity.”