Tag Archives: interior designer

Juggernaut Interactive

May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The office space for Juggernaut Interactive mimics characteristics of the company itself. You couldn’t find it if you weren’t looking very, very hard. Even when you reach the business park it hides in just west of Westroads Mall in Miracle Hills, you’d never guess what’s really behind the corporate-looking oak door.

If Brian Daniel, owner of the two-year-old interactive web-experience company, is in the office, Zeke might be, too. The six-year-old toy poodle will happily chase a laser pointer around the small office’s common room, which is lime green. The one white wall displays a projection of comic sketches instead of typical office artwork. A visitor could almost mistake the place for a trendy frozen yogurt shop, except that Sharpies fill the glass apothecary jars instead of coconut flakes and candy.20130419_bs_1310_Web

“When we moved in, this space was really dark,” Daniel says of the 1,850-square-foot office. “The wainscoting, the trim pieces were all black.” Within the last two years of Juggernaut Interactive inhabiting the small suite, black has been relegated to tasteful accents only, giving bright colors the stage.

Cindy Ostronic, an interior designer with The Designing Edge, helped Daniel pull colors from the company’s own brand to fill the area with lime green, maraschino red, and what really should be called Orangesicle. From the multicolored couch pillows to the red iPad cover on a black sideboard, pops of the signature hues are everywhere. Ostronic was also the one who realized that a traditional reception desk/receiving area shouldn’t be a part of Juggernaut Interactive’s space. “That’s not really how they work,” she points out. “They needed more of a collaboration area out in the open where people can do their thing.”20130419_bs_1353_Web

Each room is named: The Grotto, the Hotbox, the Dojo, the Darkroom (oddly enough, as a corner office, it’s the brightest room), the Rabbithole (“You go in there, and things get lost”), and the Boiler Room (“It gets so darn hot in there”). The break room is called Red Mango after, yes, the yogurt shop, which is a Juggernaut Interactive client. The fridge is stocked with a variety of beers, the cabinets contain salty snacks, and lunches are up for grabs in the freezer. The office as a whole is nicknamed Gotham.

“We voted on all the names,” Daniel says, referring to his 10 or so employees. “What’s the personality of the room, why are we meeting in there, you know.” In the interactive branding business, he states, the more comfortable and relaxed you can be, the better.20130419_bs_1357_Web

What’s more relaxing than a little personalized mood music? “We have three Sonos systems running through here,” Daniel says, each of which enables employees to play different music zones on one of Juggernaut Interactive’s three networks. When guests come in, Daniel tends to ask what their three favorite songs are. “Everybody can control their own music, which is kind of nice,” he says. George Strait gets carried away in the Dojo, for example, while Adele sets fire to the rain in the Darkroom. The Sonos systems and two independent Apple TVs run off the office’s main network. The other two networks are for guests and voice over IP. Two Epson projectors work with the Apple TVs to showcase everything from a client’s desktop to late-night YouTube videos.

A huge part of the office’s aesthetic is obviously its tech. Juggernaut Interactive employees are drowning in it. Everyone has either a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, an iPad 2 (some also have an iPad mini), as well as a 27-inch Thunderbolt Display monitor, “which is complete overkill,” Daniel admits, “but they all have them.” Except, that is, for Daniel, who doesn’t use a monitor or really even a particular office. His workspace is his iPad mini, a projector, and whatever dry-erase surface happens to be nearby. A phone call to the office rings three times before it goes to Daniel’s cell, making sure that the state-hopping owner doesn’t miss a call.20130419_bs_1327_Web

“I’m creating a business for the lifestyle I want,” he says, which does not include an office full of people he has to babysit. “I want this to be a creative space where people come in, get their work done, get out.” The office attitude is indeed come and go. Daniel says his employees have been around the block enough with their careers that they work very efficiently. The office space reflects that attitude: informal but professional. Sharp and tidy, but colorful and creative.

Educational Building Design

Photography by DLR Group

School buildings have come a long way from the stately, institutional structures of yesteryear. Today’s newest K-12 environments echo some of the best elements of commercial and residential design trends, say representatives of integrated design firm DLR Group.

“What we really see as far as trends are a lot of renovations, a lot of energy retrofits, and a big push for security measures as well,” says architect and DLR Group principal Pat Phelan, K-12 sector leader.Marysville-Getchell-High-School-Campus_Web

While established structures in longstanding neighborhoods undergo renovation and expansion, most of the new construction has been in elementary schools, says architect and DLR Group principal Mark Brim, K-12 designer. He adds that it’s a matter of numbers related to how school districts are structured, explaining that “for every high school you build, you’re going to be building three, maybe four, elementary schools and maybe two middle schools.”

One lesson learned from the past is planning for future expansion during new construction and major renovation, Phelan says. “With some of the older buildings that weren’t designed for expansion, those present some unique challenges, obviously.”

Brim adds: “We’ve had the opportunity to work with the rapidly growing districts here in the metro area. In those cases, the new buildings we were involved with, we did master-plan those to expand as enrollment increases.”IMG_8674_Web

District residents also have a vested interest in their school buildings, and today’s schools include spaces that can be adapted to serve the community for activities from public meetings to presentations and receptions. Of course, durability is also a consideration when it comes to school buildings with a life expectancy of 75 years or more.

“It’s selecting the right yarn type so the carpet will hold up, or high performance paint,” explains Melissa Spearman, DLR Group senior associate and interior designer leader.Creighton-Preparatory-School_Web

“A school is going to have a lot of traffic. It may not have a lot of money to fund a lot of maintenance,” Brim adds. “Energy efficiency is always a concern, but also sustainability with the push for green architecture, and not only on the energy side but also with use of more environmentally friendly materials and recycled materials.”

Spearman says function now drives form when school interiors are planned.

“We’re seeing how the teachers interact with the students or how the students can work in small groups, how different collaboration zones are set up, or how maybe they’re studying in common spaces and those are becoming more gathering spaces,” she says.Joplin-11th-&-12th-Grade-Interim-Campus_Web

“We’re really focusing more on the learning environment overall,” Phelan agrees. “That involves bringing natural light into as many spaces as we can, it means comfortable climate, it means transparency so students are more engaged in what’s going on in different spaces.”

Phelan explains that engagement elements range from wi-fi to adding more display areas for student works to considering environmental features evocative of where students naturally congregate, like the comfortable, portable seating in malls or coffee shops.

“We think that research supports the fact that the learning environment has an impact on the performance of students in the classroom. As a result, DLR Group has become the number-one K-12 firm in the country,” Phelan says. “That’s something that we take a lot of pride in, and we don’t rest on that; we know we have to continue to always look to the future, look to innovate, and listen to our clients.”

Q&A: Amy Boesen

February 25, 2013 by
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.

From Average to ASID Award-Winning Design

Photography by Sarah Conrad

Do you know the feeling when you build up the courage to get a new hairstyle, and then suddenly it seems your existing wardrobe now looks tired in comparison? This, in the same sense, can happen when updating the finishes and décor in your home as well. You decide to update one element, and then you begin to notice that there are other areas which also deserve a fresh look.

The aforesaid scenario is exactly what happened after my clients had new porcelain tile installed in their kitchen, dinette, and foyer areas in their home. The couple agreed it was time to continue updating their home (which they had built in Elkhorn, approximately six years prior). Finding the right direction and time to devote to such an undertaking seemed overwhelming for them, as they both work outside the home and are extremely devoted parents to their two young sons. They didn’t know how or where to begin.

Before & After of the Great Room.

Before & After of the Great Room.

They decided it was best to seek the assistance of a professional interior designer whom they felt could help them realize the potential they both knew their home had. They invited me (Michele Hybner, Allied Member ASID, Interior Designer with D3 Interiors) over to visit about the scope of their project and requested her professional guidance with remodeling and redesigning the main floor of their home.

Topping these homeowners’ wish list was adding a fireplace to their great room. I, therefore, designed a feature wall which became the focal point in this space. The once barren wall is now complete with a linear gas firebox, ledge stone from floor to ceiling, and a recessed niche for their 55” flat screen television. I flanked the fireplace with new custom built-in cabinetry which offers much needed storage and display space.

Before & After of the Dinette.

Before & After of the Dinette.

We pulled up all of the wall-to-wall carpeting on their main level; in its place went a dark (pre-finished) 6” wide plank, hand-scraped, bamboo wood floor. We removed the light fixtures in the study, kitchen, and dinette areas and updated them with burlap covered drum shade pendants in the study and kitchen and added a two-tone chandelier from Currey and Co. in their dinette.

I suggested removing the dated glass block, which was featured in the wing walls and dividing wall between their kitchen/dinette and great room. We also shortened the dividing wall to garner more room for their counter stools to push back, and we had the arch removed between the kitchen and foyer/hall. I specified the same neutral ledge stone (from their fireplace) to wrap the two wing walls and the dividing wall between the adjacent spaces visible from the foyer.

Before & After of the Study.

Before & After of the Study.

The inspiration for my design work comes from many sources. I have been inspired by a client’s favorite travel photos, a treasured heirloom rug, a collection of pottery and dishware from Mexico, a homeowner’s heritage, etc. The color palette for this particular project was inspired by the subject matter found in a piece of artwork from the homeowners’ existing art collection. I specified a subtle variation of earth tones for the walls for each of the spaces on their main floor. The warm walls offer a quiet and sophisticated backdrop for the punctuations of saturated color (reds, peacock blues, and greens) brought into the design with new case goods, artwork, and accessories.

Before & After of the Foyer.

Before & After of the Foyer.

This ASID award-winning remodel/redesign included creating spaces in my clients’ home which now function much better for their family plus they actually look like an extension and reflection of this stylish couples’ unique personal taste and flair.

Home is Where the Art Is

December 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“We’re living in the area my mother always wanted to live in,” notes architect Steven Conley of the Indian Hills home he shares with his wife, Darcy Beck, an Omaha Realtor, interior designer, and home stager.

In a sense, the spirits of both Steven’s mother and Darcy’s parents do inhabit the house. Within moments of welcoming visitors, Darcy introduces them to her late mother, Anna Beck (exotic beauty, self-taught artist, Hindu dancer, and universally adored Air Force wife) via paintings of East Indian dancers the latter created as a teenager; and her late father, esteemed Major General A.J. Beck, via signed Dali lithographs and original rosewood and orange leather Eames chairs that he loved, as well as a humorous coffee-table topper of boxing gloves signed by Leon Spinks.

Two large framed and signed lithographs by Salvador Dali are featured in the living room.

Two large framed and signed lithographs by Salvador Dali are featured in the living room.

Steven chimes in with an introduction to Irma, a bigger-than-life sculpture in the entryway that his mother, also named Irma, purchased for him when she downsized her home.

The couple has complemented the art of their parents with their own collection, including a prominently displayed painting by their next-door neighbor, the artist Jill Rizzo, two large ballerina torsos by another local artist gracing their dining room wall, a turquoise-encrusted bull’s head, redolent of Georgia O’Keefe, mounted in their stairway, and a witty ceramic “paper bag” luminaria that Steven gave to Darcy. “Who gives his wife a brown paper bag?” he cracks with a twinkle in his eye.

Dining room chairs made of woven seatbelt material are surprisingly comfortable and serve as conversation pieces.

Dining room chairs made of woven seatbelt material serve as conversation pieces.

The home, built in 1964, is just what you’d expect from a couple who makes their living bringing life to beautiful spaces. Originally owned by Jay Swanson, whose father, Gilbert, was one of Indian Hills’ premier developers, the cubist-style structure was renovated by the local architect legend, Don Polsky, who added the front porch, as well as the sunroom where the couple and their pets (two standard poodles and a cat, all from the Nebraska Humane Society) like to hang out.

After purchasing the home in 2006, Steven oversaw a second renovation by tearing down interior walls to create a completely open, public space. In the more private sleeping quarters of the house, solid-core doors boast a single, thin gleaming ribbon of aluminum, an adornment notioned
by Steven.

White decorative plates that Darcy bought on clearance are used in a bedroom as wall art.

White decorative plates that Darcy bought on clearance are used in a bedroom as wall art.

To this, Darcy adds her stylist’s eye with an expertly curated mix of high and low. Despite her profession, there’s nothing stagey here. Instead, the home is a deeply personal expression of warmth, elegance, and fun. And something else: the unexpected.

“We’re equal-opportunity shoppers,” she explains, plucking a statuette from a shelf to reveal a Marshall’s $16.99 price tag on the bottom. And that turquoise bull’s head? Right above it is a bleached white one that Darcy picked up at Z Gallerie.

When Less is More

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Trish Billotte downsized from a large, traditional house in Fair Acres to a smaller modern condo in Omaha’s Old Market in 2010. But some people would question whether the move was “downsizing.” The contemporary “smaller” home sprawls over 3,200 square feet.

The downtown space was a big, barren area made up of two units when she bought it. She combined the empty shells into one residence. “I loved the brick walls,“ says Billotte. “This space had the most charm of those I looked at.”

Trish Billotte

Trish Billotte

She found ample room to create a stunning home that features windows with wide views of the heart of the Old Market. Within 10 months, the space was transformed into a model of what an empty concrete box can look like with the help of architect Paul Nelson and interior designer Beth Putnam.

Ceilings stretch up 17 feet leading to one pesky inconvenience—changing lightbulbs. The man who changes the lightbulbs requires a 12-foot ladder and lots of patience.

The new condo is the third design project that Putnam has worked on with Billotte. She considered her client’s personality when planning the newest residence. “Trish likes color, and she likes unique things.”

Coral is the color that stands out as you face the open kitchen, which has cabinet covers made of thermofoil. “It’s a lacquer look that isn’t lacquer,” says Putnam. “There’s an underlying wood core that incorporates a metal element similar to metallic paint used in the automobile industry.”20121114_bs_3672 copy

People dream of owning a kitchen like Billotte’s. Two refrigerators. Two ovens. Two dishwashers. A warming drawer. A microwave hidden behind cabinet doors.

Tucked away behind the kitchen is a hallway where items needed for entertaining are stored, including an ice machine and an extra refrigerator that is especially useful during the holidays.

The kitchen, living, and dining areas are ideal for entertaining. A long sectional couch and conversation nook of chairs in the living area tempt guests to relax and talk by the fireplace. The dining table can seat six (or 16 cozily).

Rooms have unique lighting. Pendant lights in the kitchen focus on the kitchen island. Traditional crystal on a contemporary bar makes an interesting contrast in the guest bath. Mesh-covered lights float over the two suspended-base sinks in the bath adjoining the master bedroom.20121114_bs_3691 copy

It’s also what you don’t see that makes the condo unusual. Storage. Lots and lots of storage. “One problem with condos is they normally don’t have storage space. We incorporated as much as possible,” says Putnam.

When planning storage, Billotte took into consideration her height—or lack of it. China and silverware are stored in lower cabinets. “I’m short. In my older home, I couldn’t reach them,” she says.

Black and cream tile adorns the walk-in shower in the master bath. The bedroom’s huge walk-in closet and companion shoe closet adjoin a laundry room. Laundry is placed in baskets on shelves in the walk-in closet. The baskets can be passed through and reached on adjacent shelves in the laundry room.

Windows in the guest bedroom in the second-story loft open to the master bedroom to bring natural light into the room. If you fear reptiles, you may want to forget showering in the guest bath. Ceramic tiles on the floor and in the shower appear to be leather-like reptile skin. It’s like bathing with a crocodile. But a very attractive crocodile.20121114_bs_3696 copy

Artwork in the home is by local artists, including a painting by artist Steve Joy. A high-gloss painting over the sleek gas fireplace in the living area was moved after it started bubbling from the heat. Billotte replaced it with sturdy ceramic pieces by artist Iggy Sumnik, who studied under internationally known artist Jun Kaneko.

She has space for her children to visit. Son Chase, 28, is pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy at Emory University in Atlanta. He met his wife in Nicaragua when he served in the Peace Corps. Daughter Taylor, 31, is a technical producer for a New York City ad agency.

Billotte now has a five-minute drive to work and is loving it. She is co-owner with her brother, Andy Cockle, of Cockle Legal Briefs. The third-generation business, which produces U.S. Supreme Court briefs, was founded in 1923 by their grandparents, Albert and Eda Cockle, both attorneys.