Tag Archives: contemporary

Sleek Home Spa

March 30, 2017 by
Photography by Tom Grady

Liz spends five days a week working with fellow designers, consulting on schemes, meeting with clients, and creating unique finish combinations. Proficiency in AutoCAD, Revit, Photoshop, and Illustrator enable her to generate creative solutions no matter the project size.

CAPTION (cabinets): A custom vanity (above) warms the bathroom with wood cabinets and pendant lighting. To create a modern spa shower (right), pebble floor and wall details contrast with the smooth walls and ceiling.

CAPTION (bathroom):
Photos show how the bathroom looked before the transformation.

Like all great home renovations, the project began with an idea. An Omaha couple contacted me at The Interior Design Firm; they wanted to mimic the relaxing modern aesthetic of a high-end spa in their home.

After attaining a list of design requirements for their master bathroom, I began conceptualizing how to realize my clients’ initial idea. The look that the couple desired would require a spacious layout, sleek finishes, and lustrous natural and artificial lighting. That’s when my work really began.

The project started in earnest as I analyzed the current space to figure out how much larger the bathroom needed to be to accommodate every element requested by the clients. The greatest challenge was that the original square footage of the space was not large enough to bring this desired bathroom into reality.

In the end, some features of the space stayed in the same location (such as the stool and vanity). To create the spacious layout the client wanted, the tub needed to move back a few feet to allow for proper circulation in the bathroom. The existing shower was wedged in a corner, and was one of the main reasons for the renovation.

With the help of a contractor, Sudbeck Homes, the exterior wall behind the existing tub was extended 10 feet to make way for the new walk-in shower. The new shower is an extraordinary 8.5 feet by 8.5 feet, outfitted with two fixed shower heads, one hand-held, body sprayers, and a rain-head.

The couple was cognizant of their long-term needs in the home, so a bench was added next to the handheld shower head. Keeping with the modern minimalist style, two recessed niches were created so the personal hygiene items could be tucked away (to avoid creating clutter).

Moving the wall made a world of difference for the space. The tub location moved back several feet and anchored the room. The organic free-standing tub is a focal point as you enter from the doorway. It is the perfect setting to find peace and relaxation. The additional square footage in the space makes the room feel quite grandiose.

After deciding where each element needed to go in the space, I diverted my focus to the finishes. To create this tranquil retreat, we started looking at color palettes that would be cohesive with the existing finishes in the home.

With French doors going into the bathroom, the finishes needed to vibe with the colors in the rest of their master bedroom. The home has light oak woodwork and warm tones. To achieve this harmony, I wanted to get rid of the existing curves and add modern, clean lines.

Gray was the color direction that the clients and I agreed on, but making it blend with the rest of the home meant that the gray tones had to be warm. Gray porcelain tile in the proper color family was applied to the floor, shower walls, shower ceiling, base, and the feature wall behind the tub.

The feature wall adds interest with the installed rectilinear porcelain tile. In keeping with the monochromatic color scheme, stone pebble tile was selected for the shower floor and the detail stripe in the shower.

When selecting the hard surfaces, the clients’ goal was minimal upkeep for the future. A Cambria quartz countertop was the perfect choice for their spa bath. This quartz was not only used for the counter, but also for the bench and niche shelves in the shower.

Making this space feel modern meant sticking to a few selections and color tones. To contrast the gray features, a solid wood vanity was added for warmth. All of the plumbing fixtures in the bathroom are smooth and contemporary, creating a waterfall effect when the water is turned on.

The lighting in the space greatly improved: cans were added in strategic locations, and pendants were placed above the sinks to supplement the can lighting. The simplicity of the pendants allows the chandelier to be the prime focus. The chandelier is a shining feature that captivates anyone walking into the bathroom.

Natural lighting was important in the bathroom, so windows were added in the shower on two walls. To keep with the minimal aesthetic, a frosted pattern glass was chosen for the windows so that window treatments were not necessary.

With the help of the contractor, this sophisticated bathroom was made possible. We turned this Omaha couple’s small idea into their ideal at-home spa.

Visit idfomaha.com/liz-lempka for more information.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Omaha Home.

Mike and Lynne Purdy’s Electrochromic Dream Home

February 20, 2017 by
Photography by Colin Conces

It’s immediately clear that Lynne and Mike Purdy’s beautiful northwest Omaha home is something special. However, the longer you stay, the more you zero in on the many small-yet-mighty details that make it so.

“It’s those little details that make it just right,” Lynne says. “There’s a reason for everything we did design-wise, and there isn’t one thing we’d change.”

That includes everything from smart windows and touch faucets to 18-foot ceilings, a shades-of-grey palette, pocket doors, waterfall counters, hidden kitchen outlets, a programmable doorbell, a fireplace in the wall that serves two rooms, and bathroom drawers customized to the sizes of Lynne’s hair products, among other distinct aesthetic and utilitarian touches.

The Purdys, who met on a fortuitous blind date in 1977, are self-described “empty nesters” and transitioned to their home in Deer Creek Highlands in March 2016, after breaking ground one year prior. Mike, an architect and president of Purdy & Slack Architects, designed the home based upon he and Lynne’s extensive, collaborative exploration of what they wanted in their next home.

First, the couple knew they wanted to live on a golf course, so when they found a Deer Creek Highlands lot they were smitten with, they persevered in attaining it. The community is home to the third nine of the Arnold Palmer-designed Players Club at Deer Creek golf course.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better neighborhood or better neighbors,” says Lynne.

Mike’s design was informed by the logistics of the site.

“Lynne wanted an open plan with our master suite adjacent, so we had the floor plan in mind,” he says. “I wanted to keep the views of the golf course, plus the sun in the wintertime comes up on the axis of the large window and the great room.”

Mike refined his design until it was everything the Purdys wanted and he received approval from the neighborhood’s architectural review committee.

“The challenge was creating something unique and contemporary, but not so radical it wouldn’t blend with the neighborhood, and also something that facilitated the way we want to live,” Mike says.

Mike also designed the Purdys’ previous home, where they raised sons Bryan and Keith and lived for 28 years, but the couple says it was a family house, not an empty-nester house.

“It was a beautiful home, but our family grew, then left. Our current home is an adult house, but still with room for the kids to come visit,” Lynne says.

Indeed, the downstairs bedrooms, family room, and walk-out patio are designed to welcome Bryan, Keith, and their own expanding families, including Keith’s 4-year-old identical twin daughters, whom Lynne says “love coming to Gaga and Papa’s house.”

Mike embraced his creative side while designing the home.

“With architecture, you try to get a reaction from people,” he says. “It’s like a piece of art—meant to draw out emotion and create conversation. That’s what I tried to do with the house.”

“One of the design elements I wanted to do was to hide the front door so there’s a little bit of mystery as you approach the house the first time,” Mike says of the slightly obscured front door that bucks street-facing tradition. “It creates a different experience, and then you make the turn into this big space, so it’s kind of a surprise.”

The first thing visitors will notice upon entering—after the Purdys’ adorably petite white pup Holly—is the 16-foot-wide, 18-foot-high, attention-commanding window that overlooks the golf course from the rear of the house. What you wouldn’t immediately notice or know is that the window panes are SageGlass, an electrochromic glass that can be set to various levels of tint via an app. The window can be dimmed by row or pane, or even programmed to react to the level of sun or clouds.

“It’s a commercial-grade glass we’re putting in some of our office buildings. They don’t require blinds and save energy from heat gain,” Mike says. “In wintertime we keep ours mostly clear to maximize the heat gain. In summertime we keep it pretty dim so it doesn’t heat up the home as much.”

Mike estimates that within 20 years most new windows in homes will be this type of dynamic glass.

“It’s newer technology, but I expect it’ll become standard and you’ll find it in the houses of the future,” he says.

Whether through the giant window or from the glass-railed cantilever deck outside, the Purdy home’s crown jewel is the incredible, ever-changing view that’s shown Lynne and Mike sublime sunrises; pop-up “lakes” born of hard rains and golf course curves; wildlife like ducks, hawks, and frogs; and confused golfers seeking errant balls.

“We’ve enjoyed every season here,” says Lynne. “In the morning I have my coffee and look out the windows … it’s just beautiful all the time, whether it’s a layer of snow or a sunny summer day. And relaxing on the deck after a stressful day is the best. In the summer we’re out there every night.”

Speaking of nighttime, Lynne says the home is prettiest after sunset when the flameless candles and decorative lit-glass spheres she’s placed throughout the house turn on. Just like everything else, that’s by design.

“You come home at night, and you want a relaxing space space. The soft light gives you that,” she says. “That’s also typically when you entertain, and I want everyone to feel relaxed and at home when they visit.”

Visit purdyandslack.com for more information about the homeowner’s architectural firm.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Omaha Home.

Colorado Modern

January 22, 2017 by
Photography by Tom Kessler, Kessler Photography

How do two people, each with an appreciation for very different tastes in design, come together to build their perfect dream home?

When our client came to us, the husband leaned more towards a contemporary, midcentury modern look, while the wife loved a Colorado-inspired design. We knew the challenge of marrying these two concepts would be great. But the final product would be even greater.

Lisa Cooper, Allied ASID, and Kris Patton, ASID, feel there is no higher compliment than to obtain new clients by referral from a previous client’s friends and family. This new home construction project was no exception. In order to realize the clients’ multipart vision, we teamed with Marshall Wallman, vice president of design at Curt Hofer & Associates, and his team to create this dream home.

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Our clients enjoy the topography and ambience of Colorado and the architecture of that region. They also like things a bit more contemporary, so we tried to meld together a vintage Colorado midcentury modern look for their new home. While the home itself was meticulously planned to achieve this design, the lot the family selected was just as important. A space with abundant trees would set the perfect tone for a woodsy, private residence.

The home’s curb appeal sets the tone for the design elements that wait inside. The entrance—with its vast windows and incredible sightline from the workspace all the way to the dining room—makes a strong introductory statement.

Main and lower levels of the home feature similarly strong design conceptualization in the fireplaces. They aren’t located on exterior walls, as fireplaces typically are; rather, the hearths are positioned in the centers of the rooms (to be more architecturally integrated into the spaces). Carefully placed windows allow for ample natural light to pierce the space. Not having a fireplace in a traditional placement, flanked by windows, adds interest.

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Powder rooms on each level also provide an opportunity to get creative, and they incorporate high-end elements such as a stainless steel vessel sink, which perforates a quartzite countertop, and walls tiled in a 3D relief.

A color palette of natural tones with blackened steel blue, fern green, aged ore, slate gray, and metallic burnt merlot creates an ambience that possesses an elusive balance between vintage and modern appeal. We relied upon myriad materials to achieve the design our clients desired. Natural stone, used in both the exterior and interior of the home, gives a rugged, earthy feel. A mix of concrete, weathered and reclaimed woods, organic natural stone surfaces, and quartz work symbiotically. Wood ceiling details, a kitchen backsplash fashioned of fern gray subway tiles with a vintage pattern, and handcrafted wall coverings all add to the unique flavor of this home.

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Perhaps one of the most striking elements of the home’s design scheme is the incredible use of light fixtures as art pieces. In an effort to avoid a predictable sea of sameness, we used a multitude of finishes from bronze to antique brass, to polished nickel, creating an acquired look in which each piece can be outstanding.

People oftentimes look at lighting as functional, and they forget that light fixtures can be beautiful, artistic pieces in the home. For this project, we used sconces in the hall to transform industrial design into artful sophistication. The dining room fixture is a chandelier crafted of Cupertino wrought-iron branches, each supporting a delicate chain adorned with a single crystal bead. The entry pendants are made of distressed mercury glass, dressed in antique brass chainmail. And the nursery fixture is feminine and fresh, suggesting a vintage flower design with its glass petals and chrome detailing.

The challenge of melding our clients’ appreciation of contrasting aesthetics of design proved to be a thought-provoking opportunity to create a true standout of a project… and their enthusiasm encouraged our efforts. They seemed to truly enjoy the process, expressing energetic and positive feedback on every aspect of their new home construction. The end result was a dream home with a cohesive design and a unique look…and two very happy homeowners.

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This article was printed in the January/February 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Visit asid-neia.org for more information.

MEET THE DESIGNERS

Cooper

Lisa Cooper

The interior design industry is fast-moving, challenging, and multifaceted.  I love that I have the opportunity to be creative and technical, all in a day’s work. Our clients are amazing people, and the projects that I’ve had the chance to work on have been extraordinary.

Patton

Kris Patton

Design is my passion, and to have the opportunity to receive an education and the experience it takes to gain knowledge and expertise in this industry is such a privilege. I have amazing clients and have had the chance to work on incredible projects.  I wouldn’t trade this career for the world!

 

From Traditional to Contemporary

October 2, 2015 by
Photography by Lisa Louise Photography

The goal in renovating this home was transforming the somewhat traditional space into a fresh, contemporary, more spacious home. The project started in the kitchen, re-facing the dingy oak cabinets with a shaker-style birch euro-hinged door stained in a deep, almost black, espresso color. The brown tumbled-porcelain tile with glass accents complimented the Persian brown granite beautifully. The craftsmen placed the same tile on the floor in a pinwheel pattern using 18”, 12”, and 6” pieces, and continued into the entry to add spaciousness and continuity.

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Sleek, contemporary, cylindrical hardware adorns the cabinetry.  The cylinder shape is repeated over the island in handcrafted, contemporary pendant fixtures.

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The most dramatic change to the home happened in the entry. An open staircase with iron balusters, an espresso-stained handrail, and chunky box newel posts replaced the original oak stair rail and closed staircase. In addition, the walls in the adjacent living room were completely removed. In its place stands a tall, beautiful column wrapped in stone. The fireplace was refaced in the same gorgeous stone. These changes transformed the entry from a small, compartmentalized, lackluster entry into a spacious, elegant, and luxurious foyer.

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The powder room was a tiny, non-descript space with no personality. The walls needed to stay in place for structure, so we created the illusion of space through the finishes. Rectangular slate tiles, laid vertically on the vanity wall, generated height and drama. The granite vessel sink sits atop a custom marine wood finished top, flanked by custom hand painted pendants.

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Beautiful Fabrica carpet in the main area and stunning contemporary window treatments added the finishing touch and transformed this home to a spacious, modern one that feels newly-constructed.

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Circular Logic

December 28, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In a good bookroom,” Mark Twain once quipped, “you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.”

This magnificent example of a “good bookroom” is found in a Lincoln home where the magic of reading is much appreciated.

Forming a turret on one corner of the home is this towering, double-decker circle of learning connected by a spiral staircase. Old World aesthetics merge with machine age materials as stainless steel is juxtaposed against the warm, lush grains of English Burl, forming a vibe that dwells at the intersection of the contemporary and the classic.

The famed architecture firm of Porphyrios and Associates in London designed the
ink-strewn space.

The homeowners estimate that their A-to-Z repository of the printed word houses a mere…oh, 10,000 volumes, give or take.

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Bauhaus on the Prairie

July 25, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Flat roof? Check. Clean Lines? Check. Cornfields? Insert here the sound of a needle being violently ripped across a vinyl record.

Contemporary architecture is perhaps most commonly thought of as an urban phenomenon, but Donna and Jon Smith have executed their Bauhaus-inspired home on five acres of rural Sarpy County land.

“A lot of our friends say it looks like a commercial building or a strip mall,” says Donna. “We’re okay with that. To each his own!”

The 4,200 square foot home was built in 2010 and was designed by Jon, the owner of the branding firm Corporate Three Design. Jon had absolutely zero background in architecture when he first put pen to paper in conceptualizing his creation. The couple share the space with their children, David (19), and Suzy (18).


The imaginative materials used throughout the project were more than just money-savers on the bottom line, they are integral to the success of the contemporary scheme.

Common cinder block is rendered less so when stripes of contrasting brick form a design along the zig-zag angles of the exterior set below exposed steel beams of the roofline that have now taken on an organic, earthy patina. Rolling barn-like doors of walnut evoke a little bit of country while also punctuating the space with fields of contrasting color. Add to that gently dappled concrete floors below an assortment of warm area rugs, and the foundation is laid for a country home loaded with surprises.

No storage room? No problem. Remember, form follows function in the Bauhaus aesthetic. Jon designed a section of the stairs leading down to a utility room so that, when lifted on a hinge system, a storage space is revealed. Oh, and where exactly is that refrigerator? Tucked away just around the corner from the kitchen so as to minimize busyness in the crisp, clean space accented by marble baseboards and window trim.


“Everybody always talks about the ‘kitchen triangle pattern’ when it comes to kitchens,” Donna says, “but taking two extra steps to get to the fridge is a small price to pay for the uncluttered look we sought.”

The home has no load-bearing walls, and the roof is instead supported by a series of massive pillars. This design element allowed maximum freedom in terms of an open floor plan. Jon further capitalized on this by mixing and matching the heights of the walls. The central space is defined by floor-to-ceiling surfaces. Within the bedrooms, closets are left open on top to distribute light and to create interesting sight lines.

Two wells on the property fuel a geothermic heating system and radiant floor heat keeps the place toasty even on the most bitter of winter evenings. The pool is heated by the same technology.
“The look we were going for,” Jon says, “is part Bauhaus,  part Palm Springs desert-style.” The flat roof contributes to the desired look and its lines mirror the plains surrounding the property.

“And we wanted really low maintenance,” adds Donna. “These materials will long outlast us and our kids.

Speaking of maintenance, who does snow removal on the graceful arc of the home’s long driveway? “Oh, that’s just a matter of driving the truck back and forth until we can get out. And Jon does all the
mowing himself.”

“I have mowing down to five hours now,” he adds. “If I didn’t have to make little crop circles around all of the trees it would be even easier.”

The interior is certainly dramatic, but Jon also had an eye to outdoor living in his design. The property that features hundreds of saplings also boasts a swimming pool and a full soccer field. That’s where Suzy, a recent Papillion La Vista South High graduate who will play in the fall at Missouri State University, honed her skills. That’s when she wasn’t camping on the roof with friends under a canopy of stars.

This home is something that Jon always wanted to do,” says Donna, “even if we are
out here where few people ever see it.”

That is, except when the couple who love entertaining have as many as 50 people over for a little soiree.

“It’s a different kind of living,” Jon admits. “It may not be for everybody, but for us it just…it just works.”

A Tropical Paradise

July 20, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

From the road, Roseanne and Mike Kielians’ house looks like a roof with no house under it. Just a roof. The houses to the left and right look like houses. But it appears as if the Kielians bought a roof, then ran out of money for the stuff underneath it.

Fear not. Just park the car and walk down the steps beside the roof. As you descend, a lake appears before you and an actual house—a lovely contemporary beach house—appears beneath that once lonely roof.

From the lake at Hawaiian Village south of Papillion the Kielians’ semi earth home takes on a very different look. From this angle, perched on the lake’s high bank line, it’s more like some contemporary cliff dwelling. Thanks to the one-story-tall water feature Mike built in 2002, the house gives a slight tip of the hat to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.

Whatever, if any, the grand influences for this unique home, it’s a special place for its owners, who purchased the 33-year-old home in 1998.

“It’s our paradise,” says Roseanne, who, like her husband, Mike, is retired. “We fish, boat, listen to the waterfall, anything. It’s peaceful or rollicking—whatever you want it to be.”

The Kielians most recent remodel came six years ago. As with so many updatings, the upscale contemporary kitchen was the priciest and most involved.

But here, the eye is most drawn to those falls cascading down the bank line as if an artesian spring bubbled up below the house’s foundation. Amazingly, the extensive water feature was a first-time project for Mike 12 years ago. The falls took him a couple months to build, his wife says. It quickly became a labor of love—with a bit of obsession thrown in.

“He was pretty focused on that once he got started,” she says. “It was his masterpiece. The whole family got involved with it, too. It was a major project for us all.”

To match the development’s playful Hawaiian theme (Perhaps a bit kitschy, a little out-of-place in Nebraska? Nah.), the Kielians added some tropical flourishes themselves. Most notably: The “Bumba Shack,” a thatched hut that sits next to the water where friends and family can gather for drinks and socializing.

This exotic feature, which Mike constructed as a surprise gift to his wife, is homage to a beach bar the family enjoyed while on a vacation to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

“The Bumba Shack kind of speaks to the whole mood of the place,” Roseanne says. “It’s fun, it’s casual. It’s just a very easy livin’ kind of place.”

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Aviture

February 27, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In 2004, Mark Griffis founded Aviture as a response to Lockheed Martin’s request that he subcontract for them on a long-term project. The former Air Force officer turned serial entrepreneur had been consulting for the defense technology corporation when they asked him to stay with the project. “I had two days to come up with a name,” Griffis recalls.

Fast forward to 2013. Aviture had grown from a small startup into a stable software development company with enviable contract relationships with large corporations such as Lockheed. And Griffis decided it was time for Aviture to walk away.

Working for a Lockheed or a Northrup is great, he says, but it wasn’t helping Aviture move forward. “Let’s make a difference as Aviture without necessarily needing the support of a larger corporation.”

When a few contracts came up for renewal last summer, “we just decided we were done,” Griffis recalls. “We had enough work of our own, and we focused on getting this new space.” Aviture moved into a contemporary office space near I-80 and 132nd St. in the spring of 2013.

Ryan Wade, Aviture’s Vice President of business development, would put the company’s turning point back even further. “2010 was about realigning our customer base,” he says. Being choosy about the contracts they accepted meant a smooth transition into product development while not leaving Aviture’s consulting side behind entirely.

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So while Aviture is still handling some government projects (like UAV [Unmanned Aerial Vehicle] mission planning software), the company is moving into the commercial sphere, focusing on web development and data analytics. “Everybody can put a dot on a map now,” Griffis says. “But what are you going to do when you have 1,500 dots on a map? What are you going to do with that information? Those are the types of problems we want to solve.”

His goal for Aviture is to provide data analysis that’s easily visualized and absorbed so that businesses can get back to work quickly. After all, 1,500 dots on a map create a blob of information that’s difficult to wade through, if not useless.

For military operations, Griffis points out, missed opportunities from poor data analysis can put lives at stake. “In the business world, it’s not as dire,” he says, “but if you miss an opportunity, your business can definitely suffer. That’s what we try to offer insight into.”

According to Griffis, the same technology that can solve the problems of military mission logistics can be put to work solving problems with 3D surgical imaging, concussion analysis, or back-of-the-house restaurant management. “Understand what a customer is trying to do and why,” he says. “Then you can apply the technology.”

“We look at things from a business perspective,” Wade adds, “which I think is unique in tech. We have experience in developing and actually bringing products to market.”

Creating products that clients can easily apply to their own businesses means that Aviture employees have to have a strong desire to learn. “It’s not just coding,” Griffis says. “It’s not saying go make this widget. It’s understanding why, always asking why.”

To find those people, Griffis launched a second part to Aviture’s 2013 pivot: a technology business incubator attached to Aviture. He calls it The Garage. “My dream would be to create this pipeline where people come in with Aviture, find their passion in The Garage, and follow it out.”

The new incubator, he says, is a risk-mitigated way to get involved in Omaha’s startup environment.

About four fledgling business ideas are active in The Garage. Some are still very early stage (“part of this is education,” Griffis explains. “About mentoring them. Is the market there? What are the distribution channels? How are you going to raise money?”), and some are ready to move out (Huntforce, a trail camera management company, is going into its second round of funding).

All of the business concepts represented in The Garage exhibit Griffis’ desire to encourage Omahans to create on the next level of innovation. “I believe we don’t need more coders,” Griffis says. “We need more technology leaders, people who know how to apply technology.” Promoting this philosophy, Aviture hosted Hack Omaha last year, a weekend hackathon where programmers attempted to create useful products from city data.

The Art of Architecture

December 27, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When asked about the design principles behind his contemporary, DIY home, Joel Holm employs a more-than-pregnant pause. Finally collecting his thoughts, he borrows—intentionally or otherwise—from Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

“The idea,” he says, “was to do…something completely different.”

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But there is so much more than “something completely different”—as dramatic as it is in this case—about the plot of land just a few doors south of Leavenworth on 52nd Street. The home, which he shares with his wife, Melissa, and their three children, is something of a forever-in-progress DIY project for Holm. He built most of it himself. More than just a basement workshop tinkerer with a table saw and tool belt, Holm is a remodeler whose H Aesthetics business recently merged with Workshop Unknown.

The design vision for the home and everything that followed became for the Holms an exercise in 
simple living.

“I’ve often thought about why we use this material instead of that material in homebuilding,” Joel explains, “especially when it would be cheaper, friendlier to the environment, and would last a heck of a lot longer if we used what we normally think of as industrial materials—and used them in new ways.”

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Square Hardie Board panels form a blocky geometrical array on the home’s exterior. Affixed with rivets that are proudly left visible and with the material’s aquamarine hue, the home almost takes on the vibe of a vintage seafaring vessel, that of an algae-encrusted steamer or battleship. Abutting those lines and introducing a contrasting motif is corrugated, recycled roofing material in red. The material’s striated ridges disrupt the cube theme that could otherwise dominate the façade. Adding to the industrial look are heated cement floors, commercial windows, and a CMU, cinder block-style 
block foundation.

Reclaimed strips of acrylic ingeniously incorporated into the pivoting front door create a dramatic, twice-daily light show. Viewed from inside the home, the morning sun streams through the door’s acrylic insets. At night and from curbside, the home’s interior lighting hits the slats in reverse fashion. The overall effect is that of electrified neon, and it takes closer examination to discern that there is nothing more at play here than beams of filtered light.

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A passerby’s first impression may be that the boxy, 3,500 square-foot home is a volcano of “contemporary” erupting in the brick-clad charm of the surrounding Elmwood Park neighborhood. But take a step back for a wider view, and you’ll notice that the Bauhaus-ish lines of the home subtly mirror those of the Prairie-esque ones of the property next door to the south.

“We didn’t have any particular architectural influence in mind with the design of this home. When I think of what we did here, it is that this is a just a better way to build a house,” he says of the home that was showcased in the 2011 Green Omaha Coalition Tour.

“Too many homes, to us, look alike,” adds Melissa. “After awhile, traditional homes built with traditional materials all tend to be 
the same.”

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The master bedroom suite is located on the main level while the kids’ bedrooms occupy the upper level. Instead of a standard hallway in a home where nothing standard is to be expected, the children’s bedrooms are connected by a wide concourse that acts as a play and study area all their own. Oversized sliding bedroom doors provide alone time in this most open and airy of settings.

“Having it be a very open space was important to us,” says Melissa. “It’s a lot of house, especially when compared to where we came from [only blocks away]. Our previous home was very quaint and charming, but it was cut up into too many individual rooms. When company came or when we had parties in the old house, it was always that awkward sort of arrangement where four people would have to be seated in another room and then a few more would be tucked around the corner from there.”

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Initial construction of the home designed in collaboration with architect Eddy Santamaria of Contrivium Design + Urbanism spanned almost two years.

A walking club made up of seniors from Elmwood Tower, a nearby independent living facility, peppered Joel with questions almost daily as work progressed. “I could have talked to them all day about what we were building,” he quips. “I’m sure I lost a month in the construction process talking to them.”

“And we were both surprised how much most of them liked it,” Melissa adds. “We had thought that older folks might not get it—might not get what we were doing—because even a lot of younger people don’t get it. People either love it,” she says with a shrug, “or hate it.”

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Such major additional projects as a fireplace are planned as time allows sandwiched in between a busy schedule of school and other activities for daughters Avery (7) and Kinley (15) and son Kaleb (12).

The Holms are also thinking about getting around to doing something with a pair of “doors to nowhere,” ones  that will eventually lead to a yet-to-be-built deck in one case and balcony in the other.

Mirroring the contours of a softly sloping lot, the home has six distinct levels plus a basement. To travel from the mudroom at the rear of the house to the front door, for example, it is a gradual one-two-three ascent of gently rising levels. In between, the space is full of subtleties that serve to break up the right angles that are otherwise everywhere to be found. A mini-flight of steps leading from the living room down to the kitchen area, for example, is sliced into a wedge configuration. The continuity of the open living room/kitchen space is never completely severed, Joel explains, but is instead merely interrupted in a way that delivers a sense of “roomness” between the two.

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The centerpiece of the kitchen is a custom table crafted by Workshop Unknown. Its acrylic surface and arcing, birch-laminated legs complement the acrylic and birch found elsewhere throughout the home.

“It’s such a simple and elegant wood,” Joel says of the birch, “and it’s a lot cheaper than many of your other choices.”

Expansive walls of glass in the main living area make for wide-open vistas but took some getting used to, Melissa says, especially when the family first moved in.

“We had people showing up outside and cupping their hands against the glass to get a look inside,” she chuckles. “They must have assumed it was a dentist’s office or something like that because our home is so different from everything else around here. I’d be reading a book or watching TV, and I’d catch some movement out of the corner of my eye, and there’d by some guy making nose prints on my windows!”

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If the home was in any danger of feeling cold or sterile, works by area artists and beyond lend a warm and vibrant touch in a color palette grounded in organic ochres.

“That was also an important driving force in planning our home,” says Joel. “We knew we wanted a place where we could display a lot of art, some of it on a pretty large scale.”

Everything about the lines, forms, and spatial composition of the Holms’ place suggest an acute attention to the art of architecture and the architecture of art.

“We do consider the house a work of art,” Joel explains as Melissa nods in agreement. “It’s something of a living sculpture but a very functional one for our family.”

Balance & Harmony

June 20, 2013 by
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.