Tag Archives: bedroom

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.

Everything in its Place

June 21, 2015 by
Photography by Colin Conces

Article originally published in May/June 2015 edition of Omaha Home.

When you first pull up to Zach and Courtney Carle’s home off 192nd and Dodge in Elkhorn, you might think, “Wow, they have a really nice house.”

You’d be right.

But when Courtney greets you at the front door, you won’t enter one of those cavernous McMansions that embodies the worst aspects of American housing over the past couple decades.

Instead, you’re welcomed into a home that balances light and dark, friendly and ambitious, modern and traditional. Think natural stone chimney, hardwood floors, and a purple chalkboard wall for the oldest daughter. The place is gorgeous, yet understated and slightly quirky, like George Clooney.

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“Organized chaos” is another way to put it. The Carles will repeat that phrase several times over the course of our walkthrough.

Zach, a pharmaceutical sales specialist, and Courtney, a nurse, are the parents of four active children; Izabella (4), Camden (7), Jaxson (11), and Olivia (14). Dolls, action figures, sports gear, LEGOs, stuffed animals, art, homework, and digital devices abound. As the family grew, the Carles realized their old house simply couldn’t keep up. They needed a place to organize the chaos.

So, a few years ago, they started working with Greg Frazell of G. Lee Homes. This proved to be a wise choice. As a father of five, Frazell understood the organizational challenges a large family faces.

One of the most vital issues? Food. Both Zach and Courtney spend a lot of time travelling around Omaha for their professions and have little time to visit the grocery store, so Frazell sketched up what he thought would be an ample pantry.

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“I told him to go back to the drawing board,” Courtney chuckles. The original design was half the size the family had envisioned.

Frazell took it to heart. Honeycombed with shelves, the pantry as built could pass for a small food bank. Industrial-sized cereal boxes loom high overhead—telltale signs of a Costco membership.

The rest of the house follows suit, maximizing every nook and cranny of interstitial space to keep clutter at bay. Clothes, shoes, toys, and the attendant supplies of modern life seem vacuum-packed into cubby holes. It all looks simple enough (ingenious things often do) but the overall effect is one of logistical brilliance.

With the family’s potential morass of physical matter under control, the house is free to breathe. Indeed, if a house can be said to flow, this house flows. A cozy entryway beckons you past the home office, where a sliding barn door offers solitude, and into a living room capped by a 20-foot-high ceiling. Echoing the myriad storage elements throughout the house, the living room is checkered with windows that offer a perfect view of summer storms.

From there, the house spills into an open-concept kitchen where a granite-topped island sink splits the flow into two branches. One course leads to the three-car garage and the other to the pantry and dining room, which is recessed from the kitchen and vaulted like a nave. Hung from the apex, a stunning chandelier flashes bits of sunshine at the visitor. This placement is strategic: hung in the entryway, the chandelier’s beveled tears might look gaudy—like an earring worn by a Godzilla-sized Elizabeth Taylor. But above the dining room table, the fixture brightens the space without ostentation.

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The spacious living room/kitchen/dining area serves as the nucleus of the house. It’s custom-built to encourage interaction between the Carles, their kids, and the innumerable neighborhood children who breeze through on any given day. The neighborhood is a tight-knit community, so it’s crucial for Courtney to be able to pursue her passion for cooking while still getting to hang out with everyone.

In fact, besides Elkhorn Public Schools’ reputation for a rigorous education, the frenzy of youthful activity is what initially drew the Carles to the neighborhood two years ago.

“We loved that there were 5,000 kids running around the streets when we pulled in,” Courtney says.

With sometimes up to nine extra kids in the house, bathrooms were a key design consideration. Brothers Camden and Jaxson share one, as do sisters Izabella and Olivia. Nobody has to fight for a sink. Downstairs, Mom and Dad have what could pass for a spa, with its huge echo-chamber shower, presidential bathtub, and hexagonal flooring, a throwback look you’d expect to find in a home in Dundee, not out here on the edge of cornfields.

“We didn’t want it to age or succumb to what’s trendy now,” Zach explains, tapping the tile with the heel of his shoe. “We like the white subway tiles.”

This urge toward practicality and timelessness sums up the philosophy on which the house is built.

As does the sign in the pantry entryway: “Today’s Menu: Eat it or starve.”

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Sophisticated Simplicity

September 3, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The newest devotee of the work done to the stately property at 38th and California streets also happens to be among its oldest—in more ways than one.

“Walking into that home again all these years later,” says Joe Barmettler, “was just pure magic.” The retired attorney was recently feted on the occasion of his 80th birthday in the home built in 1917 for his grandfather, bakery magnate Otto Barmettler. “They did a beautiful job with the house,” Barmettler adds. “I was flabbergasted at every turn.”

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“They” refers to Avery Loschen and Will Perkins, the current owners who have spent the last few years meticulously restoring the once-faded Gold Coast beauty.

Girded by towering pines on its perch atop a hillock, the home has a breathtaking view of the Downtown Omaha skyline.

And how did the Barmettler clan wrangle an invitation from all-but-perfect strangers?

Perkins (left) with Loschen and their Old English Sheepdog, Bridget.

Perkins (left) with Loschen and their Old English Sheepdog, Bridget.

“It all just kind of came together,” says Loschen with a chuckle. “We love to entertain. Our goal here with this house can be described as ‘social, social, social.’ We want to use the house for entertaining and hosting fundraisers.” Loschen, a real-estate investor, had previously spent nearly two decades at the helm of an Oregon-based nonprofit.

Since the home is still what the owners call “a work in progress,” the pair has a long list of projects slated for the property. Loschen and Perkins currently use a third-floor ballroom as storage while it awaits new life, and the three-bedroom caretaker’s house will become the studio for Perkins’ interior design practice.

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Designed by famed architect F.A. Henninger, the 10,000-square-foot Second Renaissance Revival home features Doric columns framing pavilions of multi-paned, floor-to-ceiling windows. Also among Henninger’s lasting contributions to the Omaha landscape, several of which are listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, are the Havens-Page House on the northeast corner of 39th and Dodge streets, the Jewell Building (once the site of the legendary Dreamland Ballroom and now the home of Love’s Jazz and Arts Center), and the ever-popular Elmwood Park Pavilion.

Peeling away layers of history revealed more than a few surprises. Among the pair’s archeological finds were richly patinaed cookie tins bearing the logo of the Iten-Barmettler Biscuit Company. Also unearthed was a long-forgotten, boarded-up bathroom. In addition, Loschen and Perkins discovered hand-painted Arts and Crafts wallpaper borders that will be recreated in their original positions throughout the home.

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And ranking highest on the serendipity scale? That would be the story of the rather circuitous route traveled by the home’s roofing material.

“The company we hired to do the roof,” Loschen says, “stumbled upon the original Spanish tile in a salvage yard, and we were able to buy it all back. Better yet, the manufacturer is still in business and had the original molds, so we were able to fill in here and there where needed.”

Like a pair of Canada geese, Perkins and Loschen tend to migrate through their home with the changing of the seasons. The sun-drenched South Solarium is a favorite for morning coffee during spring and summer. The warm hues of the mahogany-clad library, complete with one of the home’s several fireplaces, offers a cozy respite from winter’s chill.

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The space is decorated in an eclectic mix of antique furnishings and art, including a work by David Stirling (1887-1971). The Corydon, Iowa-born landscape painter worked in Estes Park and throughout the Rocky Mountains for 50 years in the early part of the 20th century.

“It’s a deliberate blend of styles to emulate a historic look without being stiff or stuffy,” Perkins explains, defining his home’s feel. “It’s all about comfort, both for us and our guests.”

The “comfort” theme continues in the kitchen, which itself delivers a lesson in history.

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“A kitchen in a house like this,” Perkins explains, “would have never been seen by guests. All of the floors in the service areas are in maple and the public part of the house is in oak. We wanted to keep that theme of simplicity in all aspects of the kitchen, so we kept the maple.”

“Only after we found it four layers down,” Loschen quips.

A space once invisible to all but servants now bustles with conversation whenever guests arrive in the home. Quite a change from its middle-aged, frumpier years when the home served as a dormitory for the adjacent Duchesne Academy.

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Whether in the most intimate of gatherings or, as in the case of a holiday party that found over 200 people circulating with ease through the cavernous home, Loschen and Perkins have created a “social, social, social” space for entertaining. Loschen sums up the couple’s philosophy with yet another riff on the theme of hospitable yet sophisticated simplicity.

“Why have a home like this,” he muses, “unless you want to share it?”

Cozily Chic

August 28, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

From the corner of her sunroom in the historic Mercer Hotel on 11th and Howard streets, Bonnie Leonhardt can see another of the six places she’s lived in downtown since 1985. “Houses scare me,” she says by way of explaining her affinity for condo living. “I like having all the people around me. You don’t even have to know them; just having them around is nice.”

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The sunroom is part of a patio she had covered about five years ago. “Now it’s where we spend all our time,” she says, referring to husband Gail and her menagerie consisting of Henri the poodle, and cats Sophie and Xena. “It’s wonderful for fireworks, and my grandkids love it when it rains.”

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The Mercer Hotel condo is one of three downtown places Bonnie and Gail have renovated over the years. They moved in 10 years ago after someone asked if they’d sell their half-block-long condo in the old Howard Street Tavern. “We loved that place; I had no intention of ever selling,” Gail says. “But my wife blurted out this huge figure, and he said okay. I about fell out of my chair.”

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Never fear, the Leonhardts have effortlessly instilled their joie de vivre into their current home. Every square inch of the renovated condo is charmingly utilized. Orchids, amaryllis, and paperwhites color the sunroom, cozy conversation areas pepper the common room, and the white walls and open layout keep the overall feel airy. No decorator is called in, “it’s just me,” Bonnie says, though she confesses that if she brings one more thing into the place, “I’ll be a star on Hoarders.” Chairs in particular are her weakness, as proven by the Louis Ghost chairs around a small dining table by the open kitchen. Gail approves of her selections. In general. “She has good taste in everything but wine,” he says.

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The couple took out the too-tight lighthouse staircase up to the second floor in favor of one with a looser spiral and wider steps. An office, bathroom, and bedroom are sectioned off with their own doors, adding a new level of privacy the previously wide-open loft lacked.

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The main changes to the downstairs are hardwood floors in place of carpeting and losing the galley layout of the kitchen. “I didn’t want to be in the kitchen by myself anymore,” Bonnie says. Now guests can chat with the chef over a simple island—a slab of marble atop a small Bombay chest. The marble is Carrara, she thinks. “I have chemo brain, and it’s just not coming to me.” Bonnie was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma in April of 2012, prompting her to retire as a realtor from Pitney Bowes.

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She and Gail, CEO of North Central Rehabilitation, do still entertain a lot, though the gatherings these days are mostly small groups of very close friends. “People come in and say the place looks so European,” Bonnie notes. “French, they say, but I don’t know. Let’s call it Early Junque.”

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The description works only because an air of casual welcome pervades the look of downtown chic. It’s the type of place where you might arrive in Louboutin stilettos only to kick them off in a few minutes because you know it’s all right.

Create the Perfect Study Room

August 16, 2013 by

It’s already hard enough to get kids to study when they’re at home. After all, they’ve just spent several hours at school, and all they want to do now is relax in front of the TV or play outside with their friends. But homework always comes first.

Most kids do their homework in their bedrooms, on the living room couch, or at the kitchen table. Yeah, that’s a bad idea. Their beds remind them of sleep; the couch reminds of them of watching TV (if they’re not already); and the kitchen table reminds them of eating. These locations are recipes for distraction. What they need is a designated study space in their home.

Have an extra room in the basement or a guest room that hasn’t been used in months? Turn it into a study room for your kids! A place where they can go that can help them focus on doing a good job on their homework, as well as finishing it before the next day’s bell, can help them bring home better report cards.

Here are some great tips for creating the perfect study room in your home:

  • Only use furniture that applies to what kids will need for studying—desks, supply bins, bookcases, lamps, a comfortable chair, and maybe even a beanbag chair for reading. Absolutely no TVs!
  • Paint the room with solid colors. Neutrals always work, but primary colors like red, yellow, or blue will keep them in “school mode.”
  • Use décor that continues the theme of studying and learning. A chalkboard or dry erase board would be good, as well as a wall clock. If you want more art as inspiration, find educational posters or search through Pinterest for other great decorating ideas.

Whatever you decide to do with this study room, just remember that the point is to help your kids focus.

Trevor Hollins’ Giving Tree Mural

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When Trevor Hollins decided he wanted to paint a mural in son Logan’s bedroom in their West Omaha home, he found inspiration in a favorite read from his own childhood: Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. The book’s cover illustration features a young boy catching an apple being dropped by a large, leafy tree.

“I liked reading Shel Silverstein books growing up and going back, reading the story as an adult, I became aware of the deeper themes of these books—selflessness, the human condition, cherishing the earth…” Hollins says. “Everyone is both the tree and the boy at some time in their life.”

To create the mural, Hollins used a technique his mother, an artist, had used to create a mural years ago. “I remember her using a crude image projector, which was basically a box with a mirror that would project whatever image was placed into the box onto a surface,” he says. “I got to thinking, I could have a lot more control over the image if I used a digital projector, so I used a digital camera to take a picture of the cover of the book. Then, using a laptop, I was able to scale and orient the image on the wall. Once I had the image projected, it was simply a matter of tracing over the lines of the image.” No problem for Hollins, an electrical engineer with HDR who works with computer-generated images daily.

With the help of his brother, Greg, Hollins traced the outline using paintbrushes and black latex paint, then filled in the apple and the boy’s overalls with red paint to replicate the color illustration. In all, the project cost him and Greg about six hours of their weekend and less than $50 in supplies.

One lesson the Hollins brothers learned the hard way was that the right tools make all the difference. “Having the correct brush type for this project is important. My brother and I originally started the project with some old paintbrushes I already had. We realized early on we needed fine brushes to do the job right, and so we spent a good amount of time wandering the aisles of Hobby Lobby searching for the perfect brushes,” he confesses.

Since the completion of the mural, Hollins and wife Alicia have decorated the rest of Logan’s room with other storybook themes: Curious George sheets now dress his bed, and an artwork purchased on Etsy creatively displays a whimsical illustration from the Dr. Seuss book And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street.

Hollins says he hopes The Giving Tree mural will instill in his son an appreciation for Silverstein’s books. “Right now, [to Logan] it’s just a cool picture of a tree handing an apple to the little boy, as it was to me when I was his age. Hopefully, years from now, he will find the message meaningful.”

Balance & Harmony

Photography by Angel Stottle

As an interior designer (and a Libran), Susan T. McMannama, ASID, has always sought balance and harmony within her projects. In the case of this recent remodel of the lower level of a home in Champions Run, harmony was needed to balance the wife’s desire for a contemporary feel with the husband’s desire for a hideaway fit for a transplanted Texas Longhorn.IMG_4569_web

There were a few must-haves requested by the homeowners: a full-size kitchen for entertaining, plenty of storage, a wine room, a fireplace, and a bedroom for frequent guests. The husband wanted to include a pair of Eames chairs and ottomans. Plus, all of the finish materials should be easy to maintain, and the colors needed to flow from space to space.

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Space for the guest bedroom area was found by relocating the door to the furnace and storage room, creating a hallway that separated the quiet area from the more active spaces. The new entrance to the furnace/storage room included double doors. A Murphy bed system was implemented within new cabinetry on one wall of the bedroom. Luxurious bedding from The Linen Gallery was used to add softness and a pop of color. The bedroom could double as a home gym.IMG_4606_web

A quartz material was used for the abundant countertops in the kitchen, and a glass tile mosaic, selected by the husband, was used for the backsplash. The custom cabinetry, which was stained and glazed, can store all of the dishes and equipment for any size gathering. Lighting, both underneath and inside glass cabinets, added sparkle and helped illuminate the couple’s glass and bottle collection. The travertine-looking ceramic tile floor flows from the kitchen through to the wine storage room and into the bathroom and hallways. Custom counter stools were upholstered in a woven leather fabric.IMG_4499_web

After relocating the door to the bathroom, the original tub/shower was removed and a new walk-in shower with a floating bench took its place. A sleek, hand held faucet and an oversized showerhead were used to balance the size of the shower. The original vanity received a new quartz counter plus a glass vessel sink. Marble and glass tiles were used to frame the existing mirror.

The symmetrical sectionals in the sitting/viewing area flank the pair of Eames chairs and ottomans. A new fireplace and TV were built into a recessed area that formerly held a big-screen TV. Light oak “drinks” tables harmonize with the black leather. A mica wall covering was installed on the fireplace wall and also on the wall with the buffet.IMG_4628_web

To keep marital harmony in the family, a photo of a Texas Longhorn was hung above the buffet. Two more steers soon followed for the sitting area, followed by a fourth in the wine room. The final Longhorn was hung in the hallway to the bedroom, with a treasured antique bench (hers) placed below for balance.

Organizing Bedroom Closets

May 25, 2013 by

How many times have you been late to work because you couldn’t find one of your shoes in your closet? Or maybe that cute scarf you bought last month? Whether you have a small amount of closet space or a slight shopping addiction, organization can be your best friend.

The first step to solving the mess: Utilize the closet space you have. Find an organization system that works best for you. If you have a small space with too much stuff, it might be a good idea to purchase an organizer with plenty of shelves and drawers (IKEA has lots of these). Another great investment? Clear storage bins. They’re stackable, and you can see what’s inside without getting them out.18 April 2013- Bailey's home is shot for HerFamily Magazine.

It helps to organize clothing, accessories, and shoes in your closet by season. Store anything that isn’t currently in season in bins and label the season on the outside of the bin. With the clothes that you have out for the current season, hang the hangers from the backside of the rack. Only face the hangers the correct way if you’ve worn the clothes during the season. Any clothes still backward at the end of the season should be donated to eliminate clutter.

Have a hamper in the closet as well. This way, clean clothes and those already worn are separate, making laundry less of a headache. There’s nothing worse than having to wash the entire contents of your closet because you’re not sure what is clean and what isn’t.18 April 2013- Bailey's home is shot for HerFamily Magazine.

Since several home organizing blogs have become popular in the last few years, it’s worth looking around at some of the unique ideas on the web, too. Pam with DIY Design Fanatic suggests taking smaller wicker baskets and nailing them to the closet wall to keep track of socks, tank tops, etc. Multiple blogs recommend installing key hooks or corkboards with push pins to hang necklaces so they don’t get tangled. If you’re not sure where to start looking for ideas, don’t forget about Pinterest. It’s a fabulous source of DIY solutions.

Dusty and Marlina Davidson

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In a fit of late-night online browsing in 2004, Dusty and Marlina Davidson responded to a quirkily written classified for an Old Market apartment: “Super fly loft. Huge windows, two bedrooms, 2,000 square feet.”

With their minds set on moving out of their bland rental into something with a little more character, the couple stopped by the downtown loft the next morning. And moved in the next week. “It was a blink of an eye sort of thing,” Dusty says.

Neither of the Council Bluffs natives had lived downtown before, but both were ready to be in the heart of Omaha. They cite the energy of the Old Market, the Farmers Market (“We go down once a week and get stuff from our ‘garden,’” Marlina says, laughing), and the never-ending supply of things to do.

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The spacious loft seems TV-show ready, with exposed bricks and piping and scarred concrete. Contemporary décor, set off with pieces from IKEA, local designers, and heirlooms, keeps the two-bedroom apartment looking Young Professional Modern and not College Student Artistic.

The foyer is long and narrow, with a tiny seating area, a few plants, and gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows framed by heavy, white curtains. “It’s a weird space,” Dusty says, but the bar is down there, and it’s a good overflow area for entertaining. A little bit of a library adds an intellectual flare to the area, thanks to Dusty’s grandmother gifting him three or four classics on his birthdays. “I wish I enjoyed reading as much as I enjoy books,” he says.

The couple has considered buying a place but, as Marlina says, “We love the location, the frontage, the windows.”

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“The food truck,” Dusty adds with a sigh, pointing out where Localmotive parks right outside on 12th and Jackson every night. “We can’t be bothered to move. It’s sort of like inertia on some level, but we really love our place.”

A few years into living in their no-name building, the Davidsons made the acquaintance of local designer Jessica McKay of Birdhouse Interior Design. With her help, the couple learned how to give their personal style a voice in their Old Market home. “We bought a few pieces,” Marlina says, “but really I think it was more about what do we have and how do reorganize it so that it makes sense.”

One long-loved piece takes pride of place in the loft’s entryway: a bright blue Ms. Pac-Man arcade gaming console, built by Dusty as a gift for Marlina when they were dating. “He bought it as a black box,” she explains, noting he had an artist friend hand paint the iconic character on the console because it was her favorite. An old CRT television is the screen and is hooked up to a computer loaded with thousands of arcade and Nintendo games. “It’s fun when we have people over for the holidays or a party,” Marlina says.20130122_bs_2642 copy

You won’t find them entertaining much during the summer, however. For the past two years, the Davidsons have rented out their apartment to College World Series visitors and escaped the season’s craziness with a European working vacation. “I’m fine never seeing the College World Series again if we can get someone to pay us to go to France,” Dusty says. The couple plan to rent an apartment in Paris again this summer, a scheme that pans out nicely for his work as a serial entrepreneur with Silicon Prairie News and Flywheel, and her summers off from lecturing in communications at UNO.

If that sounds good to other young professionals in town, the Davidsons are all encouragement. “I think there’s more of us down here than people realize,” Dusty says. “There are places to be had. You can find them.”

Urban Living in Style

October 20, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Twelve years ago, Billy Coburn moved to Omaha and settled in the Old Market near 15th and Jones streets. He would often look across the street at two sturdy long-lived buildings being used as warehouses and think how perfect they would be if renovated into lofts.

“I had my eye on them for almost seven years,” said Coburn. He was one of the first in line to buy when renovation began on combining the two buildings into 31 new lofts.

Coburn in his loft.

Coburn in his loft.

Coburn is now not only a resident in Kimball Lofts—he also handles the project for Prudential Real Estate. The man who calls himself an urban and eco-modern specialist has sold more than 65,000 square feet of living space in Downtown Omaha, the equivalent of almost 1.5 acres.

The two buildings combined to create Kimball Lofts each have a story. The Graham Ice Cream building built in the 1890s holds a place in national history. The Eskimo Pie was created there. After Russell Stover saw chocolate-dipped ice cream at the Iowa State Fair, he brought the idea to Omaha. Stover later went on to become a well-known candy maker. The second building is the Kimball Laundry that was constructed in the late 1920s.

Coburn and Boris, his easy-going English bulldog, live in a 1,100-square-foot airy loft that has one large bedroom and two baths. Exposed concrete walls give the loft an “urban grit” feel. You can’t tell it from his mournful face, but Boris is one happy pooch. Sculptor John Lajba has invited loft residents to use a fenced-in area near his studio across the street as a dog park. It’s the only dog park in the Old Market, added Coburn.

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A 360-degree view from the rooftop terrace awaits tenants for informal gatherings. On the first level, a community room with a kitchenette is often used for cook-offs called “downtown throw-downs.” Homeowner meetings are also held there. Underground and outdoor parking is available.

Coburn said neighbors in his building have a great communal spirit. “Tenants argue over who will watch my dog when I’m gone. One woman who lives here had a stroke. The tenants rallied around her.”

A compact kitchen provides ample storage space in Coburn’s loft. Counters are marble; granite also is available. The kitchen is open to the living space and shares a view through large windows.

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A small deck has room for two chairs for contemplating the Old Market view. “But I rarely sit there,” he said. “I live downtown to be downtown. Sitting isolated isn’t as appealing as the rooftop or Starbucks. Urban living is about the street scene and the community of like-minded people sharing sports, arts, theatre, concerts, coffee and drinks, food, and life experiences in a way that cannot happen in a suburban setting. The beauty for urban commuters is that once you’re home for the weekend, you never have to get in your car again.”

An exercise room sits ready for tenants. An enthusiastic bicyclist, Coburn rarely has time to ride outdoors. Instead, he teaches indoor cycling at Prairie Life Fitness at Midtown six times a week.

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Boris hangs out in the small guest bath. The master bath has two sinks, a granite countertop, and a walk-in shower with glass doors. A large walk-in closet goes well with the spacious bedroom.

Removing an old elevator shaft and moving the new shaft created room for a three-story atrium with skylights, which provide light for windows in all the lofts. In fact, the light is so bright that Coburn installed shades for the bedroom window so he can sleep.

Originally from Guthrie, Okla., Coburn has lived in Denver and Phoenix. He uses his creative talents to help some of his Prudential customers design the interiors of their homes. Coburn’s interest in art has resulted in a colorful and interesting collection in his loft. “One of Omaha’s great assets is its art community. I try to support that,” he said.

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He describes his style as Mid-Century modern, “shades of the ’50s and ’60s,” and the décor of his loft as Mid-Century, urban reflected in the pottery, chairs, bubble lamps, and bar stools.

Coburn noted that many people in the Old Market have second homes there. “They come from Hebron, Norfolk, Fremont, and Kansas City. They come to the city for weekend events or on business.

“I make it my mission to help introduce people to people and people to places throughout the downtown area,” he said. “One of my clients lovingly referred to me as the ‘friend-cupid’ because of the significant relationships she and her husband built through introductions of like-minded friends.”