Tag Archives: dining room

Where Family and Friends Gather

July 31, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Standard windows just will not do for Ed and Diane Foral. Their home’s view demands to let the outside in. 

Nestled on quiet Cottonwood Lane, which wraps around Villa Springs in Springfield, their south-facing home features a wide view of the Platte River designed to draw you outdoors. “We love the house so much because of all the windows,” says Diane.

Forals2Upon entering the couple’s home, guests’ first impression is impactful: An 18-foot tall wall of windows in a barreled ceiling room offers the initial view at the river. It is breathtaking.

That view is all part of the Forals’ thoughtful design that reflects where the couple is in life. They knew it would be their last custom-built home. Things had to be ideal, and the home had to suit their needs.

They had lived in Villa Springs for more than two decades, and they were not about to move from the lake community. Instead, they found a lot near the quiet piers of the lake.

Settling on a ranch-like blueprint with zero step entry, the Forals built on their own schedule. It is the third home they’ve built themselves, and they knew what they wanted: from the geothermal heat pumps, to walnut woodwork throughout, to the cabinets.

They also wanted an easily accessible living space, so the comfortable master bedroom is just steps from the front door. The master bathroom has heated tile floors and a walk-in shower, whirlpool, and walk-in closet.

Forals1Design changes were made to suit their life now—their kids no longer live at home so they didn’t need as many bedrooms upstairs. What they needed was more room for entertaining during the holidays. On the first floor, the majority of space was already perfectly designed for hosting parties. One part of the first floor that did change was a winding stairwell that blocked the view of the river. That was moved to the side.

Diane and Ed’s grown children, and their families, return for the holidays. On the ground floor, the kitchen—spacious with an island that invites gathering around—is a natural entertaining space. The servery between the kitchen and entry room invites people to linger, too; the bar area has a rustic winery feel to it.

The Forals designed two more spaces for their friends and family: the home’s second floor—with a rec room, playroom, and guest bedroom—and the detached three-car garage. The rec room was originally two bedrooms, but the Forals knocked down the dividing wall and put in a wet bar and home theater seating. The playroom’s movie theme is regularly used to entertain a younger set of guests: the Forals’ five grandchildren.

Forals4The heated garage is what Diane describes as a “bar-like” setting complete with an 80-inch TV and a full kitchen with a fryer, smoker, and charbroiler. With all the space, the house easily accommodates dozens, even up to a hundred, as they found with a family reunion last year. Just lift the garage door, Ed points out, and the party can spread out more.

Between the view and the inviting space for guests, it is no wonder their son’s wedding was held there. This home is where family and friends gather. OmahaHome

From London to Calcutta to Morocco

December 6, 2015 by
Photography by Tom Kessler

This 9,000-square-foot home was designed from the ground up. Working as a team the designer, architect, builder, and homeowner carefully considered all aspects and details of the home to create a classic, contemporary design. The client wanted the home to be timeless, not trendy, so design elements could stay fresh and current for years to come.  This space took home Gold honors at the 2015 ASID Project Awards.

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A hexagon pattern was applied to the entrance floor using white Calcutta marble and gray London marble.

A Moroccan-inspired light fixture was used in the center of the space as an unexpected element. The warm glow and soft lines from the five-light chandelier creates contrast from the geometric pattern in the foyer floor.

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People passing through the foyer are visually drawn to the decorative glass sliding doors framing the dining room. A natural woven wallcovering was applied to the walls throughout the space, mixing shades of gray and metallics. The metallic background reflects light from the linear chandelier placed above the dining room table. The crystal creates a dramatic eye-catching effect in the space. A large white piece of art was placed above the buffet table to contrast the dark gray walls.    

Transformations5The art is flanked with two white ceramic lamps that create a focal point in the space. The neutral palette of gray, white, and espresso allow the client to easily change the colors in the room using accessories and artwork.

This beautifully designed room does not lack functionality; the room will comfortably seat eight to 10 people for family gatherings and holidays.

The kitchen was designed to be functional for the family of five without sacrificing the beautiful clean lines used throughout the rest of the custom home. When you enter the kitchen the room is framed with clean white cabinetry which is used to hide the oversized refrigerator and freezer bordering the ovens and microwaves. Industrial stainless steel appliance garages were added to hide the everyday cooking tools to help keep the space clean and clutter-free. The island is stained a dark espresso color that contrasts the white quartz countertops selected due to ease of maintenance and durability for a growing family. To soften the linear lines in the kitchen area, drum shades were used over the island and dinette table to create balance and harmony.

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A custom dinette table was designed to be nearly indestructible from the wear and tear of three growing children. The tabletop is made of concrete material with a baked-on finish that will prevent stains or marks from everyday use.

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Just off the kitchen is a hearth room that is used as the family’s main gathering area. The room needed to have comfortable, yet durable, furnishings. The space introduces a playful mix of teal and citron colors with the use of artworks, pillows, and accessories. The main furniture pieces in the space stay neutral so the colors can be easily changed as the family grows and tastes differ. The back wall of the hearth room and kitchen is lined with windows that showcase stunning natural views. Custom window treatments were applied to the windows so views would not be obstructed when the shades were up but could provide privacy for the family when needed.

The powder bathroom mixes texture, material, and color to create a fun, playful space. The teal wall exhibits a pop of color while the carved, natural stone tiles provide pattern and color variation. The concrete countertop gives a clean, modern feel to the bathroom.  OmahaHome

Visit d3interiors.net to learn more.

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Hidden Treasures

April 9, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Originally published in March/April OmahaHome

The quarter-million-dollar, 8,800-watt Steinway & Sons speaker system is very visible in the “Man Cave” section of the Echo Systems store because, well, guys still think 7-foot-tall speakers are cool to look at. Even the bank of 11 Steinway 800-watt amplifiers (with enough power for an outdoor heavy-metal concert) is visible off to the side of the bar, which has two televisions in case, as Echo’s marketing coordinator Doug Dushan says, “you don’t want to crane your neck” to look over the $43,000 pool table to see the Man Cave’s big screen TV, which is maybe 20 feet from the even-bigger-screened TV over by the custom-built shuffle board.

But the one-percenter excesses of the Cave aren’t really what the new Echo Systems store is about, says Dushan, a longtime home tech expert who also serves as the company’s senior sales consultant. Most of this complete luxury-home layout is filled with technology you don’t see. Think of the new Echo Systems space just north of 120th and L streets (previously occupied by the company’s lighting design store) as a permanent Street of Dreams home mashed up with a 21st-century House of Tomorrow. “You’re walking through a million-dollar home and that’s obvious. You have the beautiful light fixtures, you have the high-end art and sculpture,” Dushan says. “But we’re really focused on giving people the best technology in their home with minimal visual impact. We’re about technology, but in a house, the technology needs to be concealed technology.”

Beyond the Man Cave, subtlety begins to rule. The spacious kitchen is tasteful luxury, but not really awe-inspiring (Full disclosure, though: the writer is a dude). But then Dushan starts pressing buttons on the barely-visible wall switch. One button pours bright LED light onto the counter areas for food preparation. Another button lowers the overhead lighting and raises floor and recess lighting for a dinner ambiance. Another push of a button and the lighting shifts to nighttime mode—just enough light on the floor to get you safely to a midnight snack.

Mixed inconspicuously with the recessed lights above are two banks of speakers. Hidden behind another wall is a subwoofer big enough for car audio competitions. You can preset the myriad lights and speakers to any level and configuration you choose.

In the dining room—so that there’s absolutely no sign of speakers—the sound equipment is installed behind the walls. Above the table, the ceiling is specially designed to transmit even higher-frequency sounds without visible tweeters.

Push one button and the mirror above the fireplace turns into a 65-inch TV. If that’s too small a screen, you can push another button to lower a 110-inch motorized movie screen. Again, the projector itself is barely visible on the back wall of the room. In the bedroom, even an acrylic-on-canvas painting rolls up to expose a television.

And then there’s the real movie room, a tri-leveled, 17-seat theater that, with walls of surround-sound speakers on both sides and a screen nearly the size of secondary theaters in a multiplex, makes for an experience “we believe is better than the experience you would get in a commercial theater,” Dushan says.

Dushan queued up a scene from Need for Speed (Again, the writer is a dude). Remember the scene in which the Koenigsegg Agera R flips across the bridge at 200 mph? In this theater, it sounds like the supercar is hurtling right past your head.

More tasteful films are probably pretty good in here, too.

Finally, you exit the faux-home through a room built to look like a patio. Here there’s a large opaque window that, sure, is actually a rear-projection screen for watching movies outside.

The features, both hidden and obvious, are too numerous to mention. And honestly, a bit of envy-fatigue can start to set in after a while.

Dushan says he’s aware that most of us won’t be able to take the store home. (He says he’s hoping he can build just a couple of the amenities into his own place). But, he argues, even if a customer thinks most of the amenities are crazy or out-of-reach, “they might see that one thing that really excites them.”

“This place is a showcase of what’s possible in a home,” he says. “It’s a Street of Dreams home that isn’t going anywhere.”

The Best of All Worlds

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Let’s dispense with the references to a certain ’70s sitcom right off the bat. Yes, Jennifer and Bryan Yannone are the parents of a blended family of six kids. Yes, Bryan is project director for Lockwood Development and Bloomfield Custom Homes, a position with some surface similarities to the architecture job of his TV dad counterpart. And, yes, the Yannones are a telegenic couple with a warm, relaxed vibe.

But their new home, the first in Sterling Ridge at 132nd and Pacific in Omaha, represents more than just the union of two families. It is the convergence of several decidedly 21st-century ideas about diversity, work-life balance, smart-home technology, and the logistics of new urban planning in an already very established part of the city.Bryan-4_web

Sterling Ridge is a mixed-use development of commercial, residential, retail, and religious space. When completed, the 153-acre site will feature more than 700,000 square feet of office space, 30 high-end custom homes, 10 villas, retail, restaurants, an assisted living facility, a hotel, and the Tri-Faith Initiative: a collaboration of Temple Israel, The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, and The American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture.

The very location of the site signifies this spirit of inclusiveness. It was once home to the venerable Highland Country Club, established in 1924 as a club where Jewish members would be welcome. (Highland changed hands in the 1990s and the newly-named Ironwood shuttered and was sold to Lockwood Development at a bank auction in 2010.)Bryan-12_web

In a city that is constantly expanding to points west, north, and south, the central location also acts as an integration point for several parts of town.

This was especially important to the Yannones, who had children in two separate school districts. “There was nowhere in Midtown Omaha where you could build a new, custom home without having to knock down an existing home,” says Jennifer, a gifted and talented facilitator for Omaha Public Schools.

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As members of the community and because of their family association with the development company, the Yannones are particularly sensitive to the historical and civic importance of the property. “People were disappointed when Ironwood closed,” Jennifer acknowledges. “Lockwood wanted to make this development worth the sacrifice. For every tree they took down, they planted five more. They spared no expense to provide a community feel.”

Inside the seven-bedroom, 5,700-square-foot Yannone home, that communal sense is most keenly felt in the open kitchen, dining, and seating area that serves as the focal point of the family’s activities. “We spend most of our time between these three rooms,” says Jennifer of the multi-functional space which features clean lines and cool, neutral colors. “I wanted it to look contemporary, but still homey and livable.”

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The family worked with Lisa Shrager of LMK Concepts and Megan Bret of Exquisite Finishes on the home’s interiors. “The trick was making the home durable and low-maintenance without compromising style,” says Shrager. She achieved the family’s desired blend of a sleek look and a warm vibe by balancing hard, manmade surfaces like the kitchen backsplash comprised of multiple metals including stainless steel and bronze, with natural materials like stained rich oak wood on the cabinetry and granite countertops.

This harmony reverbates around the room: a mantle of 12×24-inch tile acts as a horizontal counterpoint to the strong vertical presence of the fireplace itself. This is geometrically echoed in light, linear tiling that serves as bridge between the three sections of the main family space and on the flooring and walls throughout the home.


The children picked their own colors, themes, and bedding for their rooms: a Husker motif for the youngest, Brayden Yannone (9); sports for the two middle boys, Baylen Yannone (11) and Drew Gibbons (12); music and guitar for the eldest boy, Luke Gibbons (14); and inspiring quotes for Jennifer’s daughter, Michaela Gibbons (17). Her older daughter, Jessica Gibbons (21), lives away at college but has claimed a room on the lower level for school breaks.

The Mediterranean-inspired exterior of the home, which also serves as a model for Bloomfield Custom Homes, was Bryan’s idea. Its sand-colored stucco and stone ediface, crowned by hipped roofs, envelops an open, road-facing courtyard and would not be out of place among the revival mansions of Pasadena. “I wanted a home that was a vacation.”

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Before they could kick back and enjoy, the family had to educate themselves about the various “smart” features of their home, most of which, including cameras, garage doors, lights, and music, can be operated from an iPad. “When you walk out the door, there’s an off button. You can shut off the whole house!” Jennifer says with glee. “Before we moved in, we had to take the kids around, ‘This is how you shut off the lights…’”

And while the Yannone-Gibbons clan is clearly having fun with the more dazzling features of their new stomping grounds (such as the time Michaela called Jennifer from downstairs to tell her it was too warm and Jennifer “fixed it” without leaving the comfort of her sofa), their parents are careful to keep them grounded.


“They all think we live in a mansion,” Jennifer laughs. “But we remind them that we’re blessed to have this. When school’s out, we do a lot of volunteering, like at the Open Door Mission.”

“With the house came new responsibilities,” says Bryan. “It’s a group effort to keep a house this size, but the children have become very efficient about it.”

It’s a synthesis formula that the businesses, other families, and spiritual communities of Sterling Ridge would do well to copy. As Jennifer puts it, “We all pitch in and take care of what we have.”

For more information on this unique mixed-use development, visit sterlingridge.com.

Three National Retailers Expand in Omaha

February 25, 2013 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Kirkland’s
12226 K Plz.
402-334-6795
kirklands.com

After a few years absent from the Nebraska market, national home décor retailer Kirkland’s is back with a larger, more convenient store in the L Street Marketplace shopping center at 120th & L streets, Omaha. “The new location is really centrally located in an area with lots of shopping, and provides a much larger footprint than the store [formerly] at Village Pointe,” says store manager Kristine Kleindienst. “Our showroom is at least double the size of the old location (about 9,300 sq.ft.), which means much more merchandise.”

Framed art, mirrors, accent rugs, and artificial floral arrangements are just a few of the home décor items Kirkland’s carries, all at very affordable price points. The store also offers many gift items and holiday and seasonal items, such as garden accessories. Company sales are very promotion-driven, Kleindienst says, “which prompts many of our customers to come in often and find a good variety of things on sale.”

Kirkland’s closed its Village Pointe store a couple years ago when the national chain underwent a restructuring. “For us, I think the recipe for success was finding the right location, which is what we have now. Customers are coming in and saying they love the bigger store, and that the parking is so much better,” Kleindienst says.

The Tennessee-based specialty store chain has more than 320 stores in 35 U.S. states, primarily in the southeast and east. “But Kirkland’s is growing more in the Midwest,” said Kleindienst, a 16-year veteran retailer. “The company sees a lot of potential for more stores in markets like Sioux Falls and especially Denver.”

HomeGoods
12955 W. Center Rd.
402-334-6287
homegoods.com

HomeGoods, which specializes in bedding, furniture, and housewares, prides itself on selling affordable home accessories and having a frequently changing inventory. HomeGoods operates the home furnishing sections of TJ Maxx n’ More and Marshalls Mega Stores with 400 stores across the U.S. as of September 2012. With its headquarters in Framingham, Mass., items, as well as the store itself, have been featured on HGTV shows and decorating blogs.

Founded in 1992 and now operated by TJX Companies, HomeGoods has been leased in the former Sports Authority space in the Montclair on Center shopping center near 132nd and West Center Road. This makes it the first store in Nebraska, and only the second location in the Midwest (Kansas City). HomeGoods promotes themselves as having “Unique Home Decor and Affordable Home Furnishings,” according to their website, and they offer decorating tips for every space from the bedroom to the backyard. Interior designers and lovers of décor alike can use a series of items from the store to express their design style and keep up with the latest trends in housewares without breaking the bank or traveling several hours.

Pier 1 Imports
7809 Towne Center Pkwy.
402-339-4006
pier1.com

With the growing popularity of Oscar® parties, as well as tea parties inspired by the hit PBS British drama Downton Abbey, the market for table settings, home décor, and dining furniture has greatly expanded, so much that a new Pier 1 Imports has opened in Shadow Lake Towne Center. Alex W. Smith, President and CEO, says, “We are pleased to bring this new Pier 1 Imports to Papillion and hope that our new location will inspire customers to discover the eclectic and fun merchandise that is unique to Pier 1 Imports.”

Customers can shop for items for their dining room, living spaces, home offices, and more at the new store, which will be the fourth location in Nebraska and third in Omaha (72nd & Dodge, Village Pointe). Established in San Mateo, Calif., in 1962, the original Pier 1 Imports catered to hippie baby boomers and included incense and love beads. Now, with over 1000 stores in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, Pier 1 specializes in imported home furnishings and décor (i.e. furniture, table-top items, seasonal décor, and decorative accessories).

So whether you’re in the market for a new set of teacups or even a dining room table, Pier 1 is sure to make your Oscar® party or any gathering a major hit!

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.”