Tag Archives: decorating

Sandy’s Makeover

December 15, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Let’s be honest. We all have our dirty secrets—sometimes that secret is a collection of things. Some people may keep those collections confined to a drawer or a closet, but if you are like me, the clutter just expands into other places, sometimes into an entire room.

That is where my vision of “killing two birds with one stone” came to mind.

We have just one lonely room left in our whole house that has not been renovated, and in it sits all my clutter and to-do DIY projects.

Rather than feel overwhelmed with trying to tackle too much at one time for my renovation project, why not spread it out all year long? Then you can see how the steps of the renovation come together for one functional room—a dressing room!

We are not talking about a room that has been turned into a closet. While there will be a closet in it, the room needs to serve multiple functions and become a pretty extension of our house.

Normally I like to renovate a room and then decorate it, but in this instance, I want to create each project individually and show you what functions each project plans to serve.  We will start with the March/April issue, and end with the grand reveal in January/February 2018.

Along the way I will work on the room itself, painting walls and trim, and reconfiguring the closet to maximize the space.

I hope you look forward to my first piece in the next issue, and I look forward to any feedback. Don’t forget to follow us on social media.

If you miss one issue, back issues are online at readonlinenow.com, and you can always go there and check it out.

Visit readonlinenow.com for more information.

OmahaHome

year-long-project

British Regency, French Chic

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“My favorite thing in life is to read a book and be cozy,” confesses Julie Kenney. So when she is designing a space in her Dundee home, she thinks, “Would I want to sit here and read a book?”

Thus, it is no surprise that one of her most-loved spots in the house is a small chair and robin’s egg “poof,” as she dubs the felted, flower ottoman, tucked by the fireplace in her living room. On cold, rainy days, a crackling fire with cup of tea and engrossing book are the tickets to contentment.20130111_bs_0634 copy

Kenney and her husband bought the Georgian brick 13 years ago. Though the architecture is purely British Regency, her interior decorating is unabashedly French chic. She mixes wood, iron, and upholstered furnishings and is drawn to crystal chandeliers and light fixtures. Silver-framed snapshots capturing family and friends are clustered on a French country side table, and works by local artists Paula Wallace and Dan Boylan hang conventionally on walls and unconventionally from molding and overlapping windows. Kenney would call it “shabby chic,” though even a cursory peek into her foyer would indicate it is more “chic” than “shabby.”20130111_bs_0640 copy

Kenney only fills her home with items she loves, though the space for which they are intended is rarely where they end up. “I buy things because I like them. Then, I find a place for them,” she reveals.

The sideboard in the entry called three other spots home before landing in its present location. But it shouldn’t get too comfortable there; Kenney has a propensity to move smaller pieces of furniture and decorative accents around. It keeps things feeling fresh in her home, she says.

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She also likes to pair investment pieces with inexpensive finds. To wit: the high-back upholstered couch facing the fireplace and the chair kitty-corner to it in the entryway. The couch was a substantial purchase. Its Old World character and metal stud trim caught her eye. But then while perusing the nooks and crannies of McMillan’s Antiques on 50th and Leavenworth (the day the Kenney family moved into the house, no less), she spied her sofa’s black sheep of a step-brother—a slightly banged-up wingback chair very nearly the same color with almost identical bronze-stud trim—and promptly purchased it for a song.

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But that is Kenney’s way. Be open to possibility. Look for fun additions in the most unlikely spots. The crystal chandelier in the dining room is a modern (albeit a good one) replica of a French antique. She made the chairs at the ends of the table her own by reupholstering hand-me-downs from a friend. The hanging light fixtures on either side of the bed in the master bedroom were cast-offs from another friend who thought them “God-awful.” Kenney didn’t. She snatched them up off her friend’s front stoop (literally) like a wide-eyed kid given free rein in a candy shop.

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Whimsy is important to Kenney. Function does not preclude fancy; utilitarian does not mean ugly. After searching for a canister set in vein, Kenney decided to store her dried goods in glass containers. Cluster them on an antique silver tray and you’ve added another layer of interest. The greenery adorning her kitchen light is last Christmas’ mantel decoration. “I use the bay leaves in soups and cooking all year,” Kenney shares.

And the miniature serving platters filled with lemons and limes? They are actually antique silver ash trays. So, yes, they come out at parties still…But to a healthier end this time around.

Small spaces are her favorite. Sometimes, it’s just a nook she has created in a larger room: her reading spot or her children’s computer space, tucked into the corner of her living room and delineated with a bookshelf “wall.”

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Sometimes, it’s an actual room. Guests, she says, gravitate to the butler’s pantry during gatherings, with its Toile paper and dimpled and dented concrete countertops. She is particular to her office space off the master bedroom. The walls are painted black and white stripes—“because I’ve always wanted a black-and-white-striped room”­—and the ceiling is papered. An oversized red, lacquered mirror which was intended for her foyer adds a dramatic pop of color to the room.

Large or small, home for Kenney is where her family gathers. “I would rather be home than anywhere else,” she contently confides.

Q&A: Amy Boesen

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As a designer with Decor & You, Amy Boesen helps clients struggling with decorating dilemmas, frozen with indecision, or just facing empty space, create wonderful environments to work and play—and at any budget.

Q: What is Decor & You, and what services do you offer?

A: Decor & You is a national franchise based in Southbury, Conn. I am the owner/operator of a local franchise territory. Decor & You designers work with clients in their homes and commercial spaces to help them create spaces in which they love to live and work. Typically, clients work with us on projects that fall into the following broad categories: 1) color and finish selections and space planning, 2) window coverings and decorative window treatments, 3) accessorizing, which includes art/mirrors, lighting, area rugs, decorative accessories, and more, and 4) full room(s) design, including all of the above as well as furniture.

Q: Give some reasons why homeowners would hire a Decor & You consultant/designer? 

A: Some people call us because they have a fear of color and need an expert to show them the possibilities. Others hire us because they lack the time and expertise to tackle a decorating project and they fear making costly mistakes. Still, others have concern over the health of their families and the environment and want to work with a professional who is certified in green decorating practices. Many times people need a master plan so they can bring their decorating dreams to life one phase at a time. We listen very carefully to the needs of each client and we design a space unique to their needs and personality. There is no one “look” that typifies a Decor & You design. We’re rather chameleon-like in that way.Living Room After 3

Q: What career/work experience did you have prior to becoming a Decor & You franchisee/decorator?

A: My bachelor’s degree (from the University of Nebraska) is in Textiles, Clothing and Design with an emphasis in fashion design. After graduation, I decided to stay locally, and interior design was not a viable career choice in Omaha at that time. As such, I took a job with a printing company and five years later, began work with First Data Resources, where I spent the next 15 years. A round of corporate downsizing in 2003 gave me the opportunity to choose a second career, and I chose to revisit my creative roots by pursuing interior design.

Q: Why did owning your own Décor & You franchise appeal to you?

A: My husband will tell you that I like shiny things, so being surrounded by beautiful things was definitely a draw! This business allows me to marry my creative side with my background in client relationships and business management. It also allows me schedule flexibility so I can spend time with and enjoy family, church, friends, and community service organizations.MBR After 2 copy

Q: What education, training, and talents do you offer as a designer? 

A: Aside from my bachelor’s degree in Textiles, Clothing and Design, I am a Certified Interior Decorator, a Green Accredited Professional, a Certified Color Expert, and a Hunter Douglas Window Fashions Specialist. My talent lies in seeing the potential in every space and each object in that space and using them to their best purpose. I truly believe in designing with the quote from Louis Sullivan in mind, “Form follows function.”

Q: What is the biggest problem homeowners come to you with? 

A: If I had to choose one, I would say that it’s the lack of a master plan. I also think that’s the biggest decorating mistake most people make. When they take a myopic view of their room—say, purchasing a single item like a sofa hoping it will make a dramatic change in their room—they often find themselves dissatisfied, but they can’t put their finger on the reason why. A master plan helps them see the possibilities for their completed room and gives them a roadmap for how to tackle the project in stages.003 copy

Q: Share a special design challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it. 

A: One of my favorite stories is of a couple who wanted me to display in their great room every family portrait and candid photo taken in their 20+ years of marriage. The husband suggested we frame all of them and run them up the walls on either side of the fireplace all the way to the two-story ceiling. But this solution conflicted with the other request of the couple, which was that I make the space feel formal, yet inviting. After asking them to cull through the photos, they presented me with an envelope with the 200 or so photos most important to them. Through the use of frames on the wall and on floating shelves and the creative use of tabletop photo frames and albums (including a digital frame), I was able to incorporate all of the photos in a tasteful way, but it was a challenge. Whew!

Q: Tell us a bit about you personally. 

A: My family moved to Omaha from Salt Lake City, Utah, when I was a sophomore in high school. With the exception of a one-year stint in Boston the following year, I have been in Omaha ever since. My husband, Dennis, is a banker, and we have two adult sons, James and Derek. We have two Scottish Terriers named Dexter and Stewart and a “mystery” breed of dog whose markings resemble a black and white cow, hence his name “Moo.”Foyer

Q: How would you describe your own home design style? 

A: My own design style tends toward the contemporary side of transitional. I enjoy finding the balance between classic and contemporary furnishings, typically unifying disparate elements through the use of color. I enjoy whimsical touches, especially in accessories. Oh, and I’m a fabric junkie, so I enjoy mixing textiles to achieve a blend of color, texture, and pattern.

Pam Mertz’s Copper-Penny Ceiling

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Pam Mertz expresses her creative side through home decorating. She enjoys watching DIY Network and HGTV, perusing home interiors magazines looking for projects, and decorating her Papillion home of 10 years. And she’s also not afraid of a design challenge.

“I definitely like tackling a project,” she says. “I’m not intimidated by them. I think I have a gift for decorating…I can walk into a room and picture how a space will look if I do this or that with some end tables or paint on the walls. But I admit I’m more of a big-picture person…not as good with the accesssories.”

When a tour through some Street of Dreams homes led Mertz to a fascination with faux finishes on the walls, she put her mind to learning how to do several painting techniques.

“A girlfriend taught me some skills…rag rolling, feathering…and I had a knack for making it look professional. I did it in my home, then I started doing it for friends.”

During some time off work (she works full-time as a UPS driver), she took a week-long class learning about plasters, glazes, and other materials and techniques for wall and ceiling treatments from local decorator Kelly King. The class was not cheap. “It was $1,500, but I figured if I could learn to do it myself, it would save money in hiring a professional,” Mertz says.

Detailing of the copper-penny ceiling.

Detailing of the copper-penny ceiling.

The first project she tackled was her dining room ceiling. It was not an easy undertaking. The process took nearly 30 hours over two weekends and involved plastering cheesecloth to the ceiling in various shapes, then pulling it off, sanding it until smooth, adding a glaze, painting it a copper-penny color, then trolling on a topcoat to fill in the cracks.

“I learned the plaster technique on a paint sample board standing up on-end,” she says, “so doing this on the ceiling, over my head, was much harder. When I was done I looked like I had cake batter all over me, and I thought I’d have permanent neck damage.”

Still, Mertz says the ordeal was well worth the effort. “It turned out beautiful. A lot of that has to do with the products I used (which she special-ordered online), but [they] make a huge difference.” She recommends the Blue Pearl metallic and pearlescent paint line.

Since then, Mertz has gone on to apply textured finishes and faux paint to walls and ceilings in many other rooms—“I used a metallic copper in my kitchen, a paint technique in the master bedroom, a suede finish in another…[The finishes] give the rooms a depth and warmth I love.”

While Mertz gets a lot of requests from friends to do their homes, she admits she doesn’t have much time. “I may take up more projects when I retire, which I hope to do in less than three years.”

She admits faux finishing is not a home project for just any do-it-yourselfer.

“If you are not a patient person or detailed person, it’s not for you,” she warns. “You have to be willing to do it just so or it won’t turn out the proper way.

“And you can do too much. There are ways to do techniques more subtly.”

A Designer’s Perspective

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Updating modern architecture from 50 to 60 years ago with interior design true to the period was an exciting prospect for me as a designer. The style was in vogue as I was finishing college…in 1969. I love the design concepts [of Mid-Century Modern], form follows function, the simplicity of design, bringing the outdoors in. Famous architects of the period, such as LaCorbusier, inspired me so much that I was married in one of his French churches, built in 1955. In 1977, my husband Rob and I traveled to France, and we were married on July 7, 1977 (7-7-77) at Notre Dame du Haute. Fast-forward and 43 years have flown by, but there’s still a spot in my heart for the era.

When asked to help Dr. Paul and Kim Coleman of Omaha update their Mid-Century Modern home in Indian Hills, it wasn’t necessary for me to visit a library or go online to research what would be appropriate. I found the Colemans’ residence a wonderful canvas to execute the flavor of the architect’s design and re-emphasize the mood, materials, and focus of the home. Incorporating some of the same tiles available during those years, but with an updated color scheme, we brought the home’s bathrooms into the present. (Unfortunately, the tile company has just recently gone out of business.)

It was popular to use “scrim” style casements for draperies…sheer enough to see the garden through them. This year, the final touch was installing new draperies on the glass walls that cover the entire backside of the home. The Colemans’ style is exactly what would have been considered the best choice for this architecture.

All the furniture of the home takes its inspiration from the styles popular at the time, lighter-colored fabrics and leathers and touches of black as accent. Lighting that is functional, such as by Omaha’s own famous lighting designer, Cederic Hartman, created floats in front of the windows. Large, colorful but minimal art and hand-crafted accessories supplement the more modern-style accessories to compliment the space and bring color to the quiet, restful spaces.

Another influence popular during this era was the use of Oriental themes for simplicity…usually more Japanese than Chinese. The sleek, minimal styles blended well and the colors were wonderfully compatible. In this case, I worked in Celedon vases and branches that compliment the Oriental theme and drew the nature influence into the mix. (I am told the home was decorated with an Oriental style originally.)

The materials common in flooring were practical and durable, such as tile, stone, wood, cork, and in this case, terrazzo. We repaired the materials when possible or found similar materials to replace them.

The over-scale landscape by Nebraskan Hal Holoun was a perfect touch. The scene of Nebraska’s big sky at sunset is stunning and serene, casting a spell of calm as evening comes on. The classic fireplace at the opposite end of the living room flickers with it’s comforting glow.

The home’s architect, Stan How, understood the idea of simple elegance and function in his design. This sleek, clean design, spare and open to the sunlit garden, reflects the outdoors and unites the interior to the patio year round. The glass walls include nature in daily living while the extended roofline protects it from the summer’s sun. The winter sun’s warmth flows in when the sun lowers in the sky. During the ‘60s, these design concepts were strong and the beautiful Colemans’ residence is an accurate reflection of the period. We have much we could learn from this practice.

Today, with the desire of many homeowners to be conscious of living conservatively, the examples of the Colemans’ home are a perfect solution.

Ed LeFebvre

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Ed Lefebvre, owner of Cupcake Island at 120th and Pacific streets, made his very first cake at age 11. “I made it for a neighbor lady’s 80th birthday,” he recalls. “I really liked her, so I volunteered to do it.”

A baking course at Metro Tech in 1973 was followed by 25 years at Baker’s grocery store, most of which were spent specializing in cakes and decorating. “This is all I’ve ever done my entire life,” LeFebvre said. “Cake decorating in particular is my passion.” He bakes all of Cupcake Island’s wedding cakes personally, just as he did for friends and friends of friends in his home kitchen for 20 years before opening the shop six years ago. “I want it the way I want it,” he confesses, “but I really do need to hand this off.”05 December 2012- Cupcake Island is photographed fro Omaha Magazine.

It’s a timely consideration, given that his plan is to retire in the next three years and travel with his wife, Lois. Their children Katie, Brian, and David are grown with their own careers, so LeFebvre says he hopes one of his staff takes up the business’ torch.

Still, three years is three years, and the ideas aren’t stopping anytime soon. “I eat, breathe, everything, Cupcake Island,” LeFebvre says. He added that while he intends to keep up with the trends and expectations created by shows like The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, he’s always going to focus on quality. “I take pride in doing that for my people,” he says, referring to his customers.

His signature flavor is Ed’s raspberry. The chocolate cupcake has raspberry filling, chocolate frosting, a raspberry on top, and chocolate curls. But his personal favorite? Plain white. “It’s just a really moist, flavorful cake,” he says without a hint of apology for the simple preference. “I’m not a big ‘filling’ person.”05 December 2012- Cupcake Island is photographed fro Omaha Magazine.

To keep things fresh in the new year, LeFebvre wants to put an emphasis on the cupcake’s big brother. “I already have more cakes on the books for 2013 than I’ve ever done in a year,” he says.

Any other visions for the future?

After citing new recipes like snickerdoodle, tiramisu, and turtle, LeFebvre leans forward, eyebrow raised. “I’m telling you this,” he says. “The next thing is food trucks. And I’m not saying anything, but Omaha could use a cupcake truck.”

And what does wife and bookkeeper Lois think about that? “I think he already has enough to do,” she says with a laugh.

Cupcake Island
1314 S. 119th St.
402-334-6800
cupcakeisland.com

In Bloom

November 25, 2012 by

In Bloom is a local, family-owned flower shop and home décor/gift store that serves businesses and individuals year-round with floral arrangements and seasonal decorating, as well as Christmas tree decorating seminars.

Since opening in 2008, the Fremont business has been able to grow through word-of-mouth and advertising in the local area and surrounding cities. “Due to our increasing customer base and expanded inventories, we were required to move to a larger building,” says owner Jenefer Backhaus. “Two years ago, we moved our business to its current location. Moving has allowed us to keep a larger fresh flower inventory, and it has enabled us to expand our gift lines.”

In Bloom’s mainly female clientele come from Fremont and surrounding areas to the shop because the shop offers unique gifts that aren’t available elsewhere. “Our customers like to stop in often to see what new items we have because our inventory is always changing. [But] some people just stop in to see [our dog] Lily, In Bloom’s four-legged mascot,” says Backhaus, who has designed arrangements for Ted Turner and Willy Theisen.

Backhaus, who friends describe as creative, funny, and a little crazy, wanted to be a florist since she was about 10 years old. She went to Metro Tech for floral design right after high school and has been doing it ever since. Throughout her 27 years of being a designer, she has had the opportunity to work with many talented designers, picking up little bits of knowledge from each of them along the way. “This has allowed me to create a style all my own,” she adds.

What Backhaus has learned while running In Bloom is that there are always challenges. “Some days have big challenges, but most days have only a few small challenges. A business owner just needs to learn how to manage stress.” But the challenges and stress of business are definitely outweighed by the personal satisfaction of Backhaus’ job. “Being in the floral business makes you find yourself being a small part of a person or family’s very important day, whether it’s a new baby, a wedding, or even a funeral. I always feel very honored to take part.”

In Bloom
520 North Main St.
Fremont, Neb.
402-721-5700
inbloomoffremont.com