Tag Archives: Omaha Home

Entryway

June 20, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

July is always a busy time of year—full of activities, family reunions, picnics, baseball games, etc. And don’t forget barbecues! 

This issue, I’m passing the DIY baton to another do-it-yourself guru. Gary Dunteman is a competitive barbecue champ who really knows how to smoke the competition. He shares advice on making a  homemade barrel smoker.

With the current food-themed edition of OmahaHome, I’d also like to share a favorite family recipe—Catalina Chicken—named after the dressing. This dish is simple, healthy, and looks as delicious as it tastes.

Ingredients: 

• 4-6 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts (thawed if frozen)

• 1 large can of “whole berry” cranberry sauce
(I use Ocean Spray)

• 1 large bottle of Catalina salad dressing

• 1 packet of dry Lipton Onion Soup Mix

• White rice (serving size enough for each person)

Directions:

  1. In a large 8-by-13-inch pan, mix the whole berry cranberry mixture, 3/4 of the large bottle of Catalina dressing, and the whole packet of Lipton soup mix (this will make a thick sauce).
  2. Place all of the chicken down in the mixture, making sure you cover all the pieces.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.
  4. Place one chicken breast with extra sauce over bed of white rice.

Tip: A Greek salad with an Italian vinaigrette makes a great side for this dish!

Here’s to a safe and wonderful holiday, and don’t forget the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who have ensured the gift of freedom that we enjoy every day.

Also, on a very special personal note, I had the honor of seeing my second grandchild, Stella Rose, come into the world this May. Big brother River, not yet 1 year old, was right there for her debut. These two are so adorable, I could just eat them up. 

Cheers! 


Sandy Matson is the contributing editor for Omaha Home.

A Cathedral for Cooking

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Most first-time attendees at Crème de la Crème instructional cooking events enter chef Paula Dreesen’s home as if they are crossing the threshold of a church. Perhaps overly aware of their guest status, they edge in on padded feet and speak in hushed whispers, the kind usually reserved for the gentle echoes of a house of worship.

“They may enter as strangers,” the gregarious Dreesen says with a broad smile, “but they leave as friends. That’s what good food and good conversation does. It draws people together.” 

But the night I became a parishioner at Crème de la Crème was different. And loud.

It was Dreesen’s 150th event, and all the other cooks-in-waiting were repeat guests, longtime disciples with as many as five previous evenings under the belts of their aprons. The only icebreaking required this time around involved that which was needed for a decidedly less than pious procession of mojitos which ushered in the evening.

Teaching, now so seemingly natural for the outgoing Dreesen, was an evolutionary process paralleling the arc of her life in food.

“My mom started me in the kitchen when I was a little girl,” the chef says, “and I worked in and around the restaurant industry for 35 years. Cooking has always meant so much more to me; so much more than just food.” 

After years of being asked by friends for help or advice in the kitchen, she began informal instructional sessions in her previous home, then launched her Crème de la Crème business plan three years ago in the sprawling 1,000-square-foot kitchen of a new home that was designed specifically for such group culinary gatherings.

“People always ask me why I never opened a restaurant of my own,” the chef says, “but I don’t think I have that in me, the seven-day commitment and endless hours that go into making a restaurant work. What I do have is a husband [Dr. Adrian Dreesen], five kids, and a dog. Crème de la Crème is the perfect fit…the perfect way to find and express my creativity and share it with others in a fun, social environment.”

Several globetrotting themes are available for Crème de la Crème soirees and, taking the farm-to-table philosophy to its logical extreme, Dreesen rotates her menus based on the availability of bounty from her expansive backyard vegetable gardens and fruit orchards perched high on a hill overlooking the Elkhorn River in West Omaha.

Crowd favorites include such Mexican menus as “Casa de Crème” and “A Tale of Two Tacos.” Italian is also popular with her “Pizza Party” and “Cozy Italian” evenings. 

And, in tribute to Dreesen’s culinary idol, Julia Child, there’s even a more highbrow “French Crème Countryside” menu for pilgrims in search of new frontiers.

Dreesen also offers the “Crème Conquest,” a hit with corporate clients that use the experience as a team-building exercise. Groups are split into teams and given a set of selected ingredients, but no recipe. The challenge is to guess the secret recipe from which the ingredients are derived. Even if the food sleuths fail to solve the underlying mystery, they get to battle it out, Iron Chef-style, in devising and preparing a delicious meal to be shared by their co-workers.

But it was the “Grillin’ Cuban Style” menu on tap for the night I attended, where anxious students took turns in preparing pineapple mojitos, mojo-grilled chicken with black beans and crispy sweet plantains, all followed by a decadent tres leches cake.

Although I was present as a journalistic observer—and my culinary prowess is pretty much limited to melting Velveeta—I was also invited to participate.

My assigned task, perhaps mercifully, was to blend the tres leches ingredients into a velvety symphony of num-num-numiness ready for the oven. Based on the baking, cooling, and refrigeration time called for in the recipe, I had accurately surmised that Dreesen had prepared a cake, the one we would later be eating, a day in advance, but I was still resolved to approach my job as if I were engaged in the sacramental rite of turning flour and eggs into manna from heaven. My apron, not to mention my nascent reputation as a capable hand in the kitchen, emerged unscathed. High fives all around.

Dreesen is often asked to take her show into other people’s homes, but now it’s her turn to speak in hushed, reverent tones.

“It’s doing it here that makes it meaningful for me,” she explains. “Cooking right here. Cooking with family helping me. Not just in any kitchen but in my kitchen. It just wouldn’t be the same anywhere else.”


Visit cremedelacremeomaha.com for more information.

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Home. 

A Real-Life Fairy Tale

Photography by Joshua Redwine

Once upon a time, in an outdated suburban kitchen, there was a newly empty-nester mother who dreamed of the most amazing La Cornue range with a large multifunction oven, seven unique cooking modes, and five powerful brass gas burners. As in every fairy tale, one quick phone call to her fairy godmother (at Fritz + Lloyd Interiors) and that new range became the leading design detail in the story of a “down-to-the-studs” whole home renovation. 

Leaving the land of golden oak (floors, trim, and cabinets), with separate living areas and very few windows, the design team set out to open and brighten the space as much as possible. Windows were added for more natural light, walls were painted light neutrals, white cabinets were installed, and the beautiful oak flooring was refinished and stained darker to add a pop of contrast. The design team worked with Nate’s Custom Renovations as the general contractor on the project.

Before

The kitchen working area was doubled by repurposing the dinette space, which was no longer in use with the children out of the home. Full-height, painted Shaker-style cabinets now line the perimeter of the room to hold all the dream appliances, including a Miele glass-front speed oven that doubles as a microwave. The dark cherry island more than doubled in size and allows for two counter-height stools, a perfect perch for weekday evening dinners as well as great storage. 

Over the gorgeous French range (the homeowners’ dream come true) is a custom metallic finished hood. The diamond-shaped mosaic backsplash with raised edges makes for a regal but classic look in white.  

Adding final touches of satin nickel hardware and mercury-glass pendants make this cook’s kitchen shine as the heart of the home. 

Through the now-opened walls, one easily feels part of the dining, living, and sitting spaces—perfect for entertaining friends and large family gatherings. Two windows were added to match an existing window to give the appearance that this was the original design of this 1980s house. The dining room, originally cramped, was relocated closer to the kitchen and fireplace to make a lovely setting for dinner parties and family occasions. Thin-cut ledgestone repeats itself on the fireplace and in the kitchen to add texture and a little sparkle with the quartzite composites.  

The guest powder room made a dramatic change, like donning a formal ballgown, with new large-scale patterned wallpaper to make a bold statement for a small space. The entry closet lost the standard bifold doors of yesteryear in exchange for an open bench design with coat hooks, cubbies, and velvet monogrammed pillows. 

If a kitchen overhaul and first floor renovation weren’t enough, this princess tackled her master suite and guest bath, making a grand reveal on the second story. The master bath was fitted with a furniture style vanity, decorative framed mirror and sconces, and a clawfoot tub for the nightly bather. The full-height bath surround was custom designed, and tiles were laid one by one. The neighboring guest bath turned into an updated modern bath with a dark-stained vanity, gray stone-look tile, a 1/2-by-12-inch pencil mosaic shower floor sloping to a custom-fit linear drain, and pinstripes in the shower wall. 

And so, after four months of living in the dungeon (OK, the finished basement), this couple’s pumpkin became a shiny new carriage and there was rejoicing in all the lands. Fritz + Lloyd Interiors was happy to help them work through revamping their dream home, updating it with all of the best finishes, making it uniquely them, and giving them everything they needed to live happily ever after


MEET THE DESIGNER

Becky Rea Fritz + Lloyd Interiors NCIDQ, ASID

Becky Rea, of Fritz + Lloyd Interiors, creates sleek and sophisticated modern looks across the Midwest. With 18 years of experience, she and her team will help in any stage of a project—new build or renovation.


Visit fritzandlloyd.com for more information about the interior designer’s firm.

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Home. 

The Perfect Lakeside Patio

June 13, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

By the time foundations were laid for the first few houses at the Big Sandy Lake development in 2005, all 85 lakeside lots had been sold. Dean Dougherty was one of the eager buyers. His four-bedroom, 3,400-square-foot home was completed in 2007, and he feels lucky to be part of the neighborhood. 

“The residents of Big Sandy are all considered family and friends,” says Dougherty, who also enjoys entertaining non-resident family and friends, too. His home has become a favorite go-to destination for outdoor gatherings from spring through most of the Husker football season. The lake is near the Platte River north of Ashland in Saunders County, so Dougherty’s visitors can make it in from Omaha in less than an hour, and his four grown children are his most frequent summer guests. 

Dougherty spends his workdays thinking about food—he’s the director of sales, commercial chain for Waypoint, a major food sales and marketing agency—so beautiful outdoor cooking and entertaining amenities were part of the planning for his lakefront property.

His outdoor kitchen—designed and installed by Heritage Builders of Lincoln—features a 1,100-square-inch grill, which Dougherty says he knew would be a focal point for gatherings. But Dougherty says he has been surprised to get more use out of his wood smoker and his electric smoker than he had originally anticipated. “We also use our outdoor fireplace for the later evening hours,” he says. 

Once the weather warms up each spring, Dougherty mounts a TV outside in a covered area, making it possible for guests to enjoy Nebraska games or other televised events and the outdoors at the same time. The covered area below an upper deck also provides a shaded space for guests to retreat from the sun on scorching summer days.  

The approximately 300-acre Big Sandy Lake is known for its clear water and sand bottom. The homes at Big Sandy offer beachfront access and lead out to docks, so guests can wander right out to the water from the patio to relax on the sand or enjoy some boating. 

Dougherty’s house was designed with a lower-level walkout to make outdoor cooking and entertaining easily accessible, and he says he’s found that because people want to gather there, the upper deck isn’t utilized nearly as much as he had envisioned when planning the house. 

Besides providing shade over the patio, the upper deck offers a private sitting area and a walkout for the upstairs of the home. Minor modifications in the future will expand the functionality of the deck space. 

“There is always a need for shade on hot summer days,” he says. “By 4 or 5 in the afternoon, after enjoying the lake all day, everyone’s had enough sun.” He’d also recommend one other consideration to anyone planning an outdoor cooking and entertainment area: “easy access to refreshments.”

Overall, Dougherty says, he’s pleased with the design and feels his outdoor space has served him well for the past 10 years and will continue to be functional for many years into the future. 

What’s his favorite part of lakeside living? “It’s being outside with family and friends and outdoor cooking,” Dougherty says.


Visit bigsandylake.net for more information on the lakeside neighborhood.

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Home. 

The Scent of a Neighborhood

Photography by Bill Sitzmann and Provided

Since 1989, the corner of 108th and Harrison streets has featured an aroma that permeates the air and reminds every passerby that Rotella’s Italian Bakery makes their magic there. 

The bakery originally began in 1850 in Calabria, Italy, with Dominico Rotella selling loaves baked from a small wood-fired oven. His son, Alessandro, immigrated to America in 1909 and eventually settled in Omaha. In 1921, after a strike left him unemployed, he negotiated to buy a small bakery for $25 a month from a local businessman.

Nowadays, the bakery spans four large buildings that occupy most of the block.
It’s no wonder this busy bakery emits the scent of fresh-baked bread to everyone in the vicinity, including the cars driving by.

Paul Schoomaker lives in one of the surrounding neighborhoods and has not yet grown nose-blind to Rotella’s scent. “We’ve lived in the Applewood neighborhood for over 25 years and have greatly enjoyed the wonderful aromas from Rotella’s Bakery over the many years. When there is a soft breeze from the south-southwest early in the morning, the rich smell of fresh-baked bread wafts through the air,” he says. “On many occasions when I would walk the neighborhood in the early morning, the smell of fresh bread was a major motivational factor to be outside. There are few smells like that which create such a comforting feeling.”

Fellow Applewood Heights resident Amy Youngclaus agrees. “Being near Rotella’s is an added perk to our already homey neighborhood. Walking out of the house to the warm scent of bread swirling in the air is like getting a hug from a doting grandma. I feel as though the whiffs of bakery scent add a warm and cozy vibe to our locale.”

Residents of Cimmaron Woods West have similar sentiments about the Rotella’s aroma in the air. “The best smell is when the air is quiet and they are baking garlic or onion bread,” says resident Tom Perkins. “The aroma gets really intense sometimes and is great to smell when you walk outside. The other time I notice it is in the mornings when it just smells like baking bread my grandma used to make.”

Another resident of Cimmaron Woods West, Tom Demory, says the scent from Rotella’s often compels his wife and children to make a trip to the retail store. When asked if the strength of the scent on a particular day has any effect on their desire to go buy bread, he replies, “Without question.” And while he is generally aware of the scent, he says, “I haven’t given it a lot of thought, but I’ve never considered it a negative thing. It’s a pleasant odor.”  

For some residents living near the bakery, the scent of Rotella’s means so much more than merely the baking of bread. Oak Brook Apartments resident Sara Locke explains: “When my longtime partner was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that resulted in a gluten-free lifestyle, I didn’t think twice about swearing off bread myself. For years, I forwent my favorite foods—pastas, pizza, and my strange addiction to buttered toast. The day I left and moved into my new place, I spent the first long sleepless night sitting on my deck, torturing myself over the decision I had made. As the night gave way to the still-dark early morning hours, the smell was so subtle at first. Just a thought really, like a weird flashback that hasn’t yet taken hold. Then the unmistakable aroma grabbed me and reminded me of seven years’ worth of mornings without toast at breakfast. I sat there until the sun was up and walked over to the store for a loaf of bread. That was when I learned that they have gluten-free offerings, but it’s too late now. I may have ended a long relationship, but I’ve returned to my first love… and I still spend my mornings on that deck, but now I do it with toast and coffee in hand.”

Louis Rotella III isn’t surprised by everyone’s reaction to the Rotella’s scent—he still gets excited when he smells cinnamon raisin bread baking. “Sometimes I get hit with a smell that brings back my childhood,” he says. Occasionally he’ll encounter people who remember the 24th Street bakery Rotella’s occupied from 1965 until they moved to the current location in 1989. “They’ll say, ‘We miss the smell!’” he says, adding that they also miss the bread, but the smell is what’s most often brought up. 

Often, people will stop in at the retail shop to load up on bread to take to their out-of-state relatives. While Rotella’s is indeed a national brand, it can be difficult to find in a store outside of Nebraska and the immediate surrounding states. “Sometimes we’ll get people visiting who were instructed by their families to stop at the retail store and ‘load up’ to bring bread home,” Rotella says. 

Rotella’s Italian Bakery isn’t just a place that pumps out pleasant smells for the surrounding neighborhoods—it’s an Omaha mainstay, active in the local community. “We try hard to maintain the family values that brought us to where we are today,” Rotella says. “We recognize and appreciate the community that supports our business.” In that sense, the pleasant scents blanketing the neighborhoods can be seen as a far-reaching thank-you from Rotella’s to the community.  


Visit rotellasbakery.com for more information about the local Omaha bakery. Residential neighborhoods adjacent to the bakery complex include Applewood Heights, Cimarron Woods, and Brookhaven. 

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Home. 

Cooped Up in the City

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Raising chickens in the city has become more common in recent years due to the popularity of urban farming. 

Brett Kreifels, educator for the Nebraska Extension in Cass County (formerly of the Douglas-Sarpy County Extension), has been around poultry his whole life. He runs 4-H youth development for the county and has extensive education in livestock. His grandfather owned a hatchery in Springfield when he was a child. 

Kreifels says there is a trend in favor of urban farming and raising poultry in cities like Omaha because it’s fun and it teaches sustainability. Eggs are an added benefit. For some, it is comforting to know where their meat comes from.

To get started, he says it is important to know local regulations, noting that Omaha and Lincoln have different rules, and Omaha residents must follow both city and Douglas County rules. Much of Sarpy County does not allow chickens, with the exception of those raised by youth in 4-H programs.

Beka Doolittle raises chickens in a part of Elkhorn that is not annexed by the city but falls within Douglas County. She has a permit from the county, but also advises urban farmers to be aware of homeowners association covenants. She raises egg-laying chickens exclusively. Doolittle selected types that lay a variety of colored eggs—they look beautiful in cartons. If one of her birds were to stop laying, she would keep it as a pet. She says raising chickens teaches good life skills, and she enjoys passing them on to her 8-year-old daughter. She says caring for chickens is therapeutic, noting that their strange behavior always makes her laugh. 

Janine Brooks keeps chickens within Omaha city limits. She has many Seramas (a small breed of bantam chickens originally from Malaysia), and enjoys their eggs. It takes five of their eggs to equal one average chicken egg. Brooks says she got into chickens with her 31-year-old daughter, who is autistic. She says her daughter loves the chickens and also raises turkeys. Rearing poultry and watching them grow has been therapeutic for the family and keeps her daughter occupied. Brooks says chickens and turkeys are incredible pets, inexpensive to feed and maintain, and they are clean animals.   

Kreifels says there are no health concerns with raising poultry so long as you keep a clean coop. Otherwise there are risks of salmonella and E. coli. He recommends washing your eggs and your hands after handling chickens. He has been sick from his own birds on one occasion. He attributes it to lax hand-washing practices. “Don’t kiss your chickens,” he says, partly joking.

To get started in Omaha, Kreifels recommends first contacting the Douglas County Health Department. Let them know you are interested in raising chickens. They will want to know your lot size, whether or not you have a fenced-in yard, and what the coops look like. They will send someone out to inspect the facility. If they approve, they will tell you how many chickens you can have and issue you a permit.

It’s that simple. Raise chickens. Eat fresh eggs. Know where your meat comes from. Learn to nurture yourself by nurturing and respecting your food source.


Visit extension.unl.edu to learn more about the Nebraska Extension’s work with local agriculture and livestock.

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Home. 

Residential Nirvana

May 21, 2018 by
Photography by Tom Kessler

Dull. Dark. Overbearing. Heavy. These are not nice adjectives to describe a new home, but this is exactly how our clients felt about the new residence they had purchased.

Before

When the homeowners first stepped into our showroom at Interiors Joan & Associates, they explained their dissatisfaction wasn’t about the house itself; they just needed to realize the potential they knew existed within the home. That’s when they connected with Karie Boggs (Allied Member ASID), a professional interior designer with the firm.

After learning more about her clients, how they wished to live in the home, and how they envisioned it to look, Boggs and the homeowners embarked on a major transformation that completely changed both the aesthetics and the functionality of the home—and they never looked back.

What makes this project unique is that the entire transformation was completed with minimal construction. Cosmetic changes included fresh paint, lighting, and a total overhaul of the furnishings. The father of one of the homeowners is in the construction industry in Dubai; his ability to see potential in the home’s bones proved to be a valuable resource throughout the renovation process, and helped his daughter to see the home for what it could be.

We embarked on a renovation project to create an environment that would match the homeowners’ personality and lifestyle. They required space for entertaining, but also wanted the home to be warm and inviting when smaller groups of family are there. Boggs’ design solution was to transform the dark, dreary, and gray home into a light, fresh, and colorful space that would reflect the clients’ culture and taste.

After

Rooms that were once filled with out-of-scale traditional furnishings, muddy gray walls with white chair rail, and mismatched flooring now boast a brighter linen wall color, elements of architectural significance, and furnishings with bursts of color and interest. The great room features a natural stone wall with floating metal shelves and integrated lighting. This built-in design detail provides the space with texture, and all at once creates dimension in the room. Glitzy elements added sparkle to the space: a furrowed metal table lamp, nailhead detailing on the upholstery, and a cocktail table base fashioned out of chrome, while a color palette of raspberry, gold, and copper repeats itself in the cut velvet fabrics and the large-scale artwork.

Custom draperies create a backdrop for the bright, punchy fuchsia fabric used on the upholstered chairs in the dining room. A sparkling chandelier and abstract artwork complete the new, sophisticated space. A sectional sofa with a streamlined frame and nubby textural upholstery anchor the hearth room.

Colorful pillows in a trio of patterns breathe splashes of raspberry, citron, turquoise, and seal gray into the design. While the actual architecture of the media and fireplace wall were not changed, Boggs had the walls painted and a textural treatment applied inside the niches to create a clean yet interesting space for display. Exotic accessories of glass, metal, petrified wood, and silk florals enhance the visual appeal of the media wall.

Colorful artwork and upholstered dining chairs perfectly appoint the more intimate dinette space. Here, bright yellow, pink, cerulean, and a deep espresso wood finish on the furniture frames replace the once-dark and drab corner of the home. Perhaps one of the most interesting transformations took place in one of the upstairs spaces. What was once a mismatched bonus space for toys was thoughtfully redesigned to serve as a Hindu prayer room for the homeowners and family. Great care was taken to respectfully fulfill every requisite that our clients had regarding the size, finish, look, measurements, accouterments, and requirements of this spiritual space.

Another fantastic transformation was to conceal an inconvenient laundry chute (positioned in the hallway directly atop the steps on the second level of the home). The chute was randomly situated beside a bank of practically useless skinny shelves. Boggs’ clever design morphed the unsightly chute into a part of an artistic installation by disguising the door with a contemporary metal cover that conceals its functional purpose with a more aesthetically pleasing trio of art pieces. The skinny shelves were replaced with floating shelves with LED accent lighting, creating a perfect space for home accessory display.

By incorporating a variety of design elements—crystal chandeliers, mixed metals, antiqued mirrors, lots of finishes, and sumptuous fabrics—the home realized a fresh, colorful, and interesting new personality. The homeowners’ personal tastes, cultural influences, and religious requirements found a residential showcase that is uniquely their own.


Visit interiorsbyjoan.com for more information.

This article was printed in the May/June 2018 edition of OmahaHome.

Park East Neighborhood Rebrand

April 30, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The Omaha neighborhood that’s not quite downtown and not quite Midtown has, for years, been hard to encapsulate.

You could identify it as home to several historic early 20th century buildings, such as the Rose Theater, Scottish Rite Cathedral, and the old Northern Natural Gas Headquarters building. A stretch on Farnam Street was once the busy “automotive row,” where you could find several car dealerships as well as car service shops. And pockets of the neighborhood are known for their less-than-rosy reputations as previous hot spots for crime, drug dealing, and prostitution.

Although the past has been a mixed bag for Omaha’s Park East neighborhood (situated east of Interstate 480), the future is looking like it will be more unified. The neighborhood—bounded by Dodge and Leavenworth from 20th to 28th streets—has a new name: The Quarters.

Several developers are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the area to rehabilitate different buildings for residential or commercial use.

And the Park East Neighborhood Association is working on ideas to rebrand and market the area as a destination instead of just a necessary pass-through on the way to or from downtown or Midtown.

“We want to make the area not just somewhere you drive past,” says Ann Lawless, executive director of the Park East Neighborhood Association. “We want to make it a place you would want to stop, have dinner, or maybe even live.”

Until a few years ago, the neighborhood was more of a place to do business than anything else. Some of the area’s longtime businesses include All Makes Office Equipment, Physicians Mutual Insurance Co., and (until a couple of years ago) Barnhart Press. In addition, several nonprofits have called the area home, including Completely Kids (where Lawless works), Lutheran Family Services, Youth Emergency Services, the Salvation Army, the Rose Theater, and Joslyn Art Museum, among others.

Most of the residential housing consisted of apartments designed and priced for low-income or elderly residents before local developers began noticing the area’s potential a few years ago.

The area is “perfectly positioned between downtown Omaha/the Old Market and Midtown Crossing/UNMC,” says Dave Ulferts, an investor in Travers Row Houses, 11 buildings on 26th Street and St. Mary’s Avenue that were converted into modern dwellings.

Other new residential developments include Highline Apartments (once home to the old Northern Natural Gas Building) at 22nd and Dodge streets and the Flats on Howard (12 adjacent brick buildings) on 24th Street between Harney Street and Landon Court.

And the newer developments aren’t just housing. The $10 million Kountze Commons building at 26th and Douglas streets opened late last year. Even Hotel, an upscale hotel at 24th and Farnam streets, opened in 2016. The Kellogg building at 24th and Harney streets was rehabilitated to become a commercial space that now hosts businesses including Muglife Coffee Roastery, Greenstreet Cycles, Wag pet shop, and soon, a “cat café” called Felius.

“As a unique business, we wanted to set up shop in a unique area of town, one that was underdeveloped and a place where we could be a catalyst for positive change,” says Felius president and founder Bre Phelan. “The Quarters district was the perfect fit.”

With all the efforts to breathe new life into the area, Lawless says some of the developers suggested rebranding the area with a new name.

Ulferts says it was a “great journey” to decide on a new name, citing “multiple community listening sessions, surveys, brainstorming meetings, and even a professionally facilitated meeting…giving everyone the opportunity to have a voice was important.”

Lawless says “The Quarters” was chosen because it was catchy and inclusive, as opposed to rooted in a specific time or part of the neighborhood’s history.

But history is still important as the neighborhood continues to develop. Several developers have sought to incorporate aspects of the area’s early 20th century architecture in their projects.

“Many of the restorations in the area seek to maintain and enhance the existing character of the neighborhood,” says Adam Andrews, AIA, architect at Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture and board president of Restoration Exchange Omaha.

Andrews cites the exterior lighting and landscape of the Flats on Howard, which mimics the originals, and the tinted window glazing and public entrance lobby at Highline Apartments, which was restored to its original condition. Ulferts says when refurbishing Travers Row, the original granite curbs were salvaged and repurposed for the retaining walls in the development’s green space.

More residential properties are in the works. More commercial businesses are on their way. As more developers and businesses seek to rejuvenate the area, Andrews says he hopes this desire to restore and preserve continues.

Ten years from now, Ulferts says he hopes the area will be walkable and well-lit, with community gardens on almost every corner, and neighborhood events for residents, business owners, and their employees.

Ulferts acknowledges that it will take a lot more work before the neighborhood gets to that point.

“I’d describe the general feel as we’re ‘up and coming,’” he says. “One could make an argument that we have a long way to go, so I’m glad to be part of a neighborhood association focused on overall improvement.”


This article was printed in the May/June 2018 edition of OmahaHome.

Entryway

April 25, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Spring is in full swing and my thoughts turn to freshening up my home as I always do. After a long, dreary winter, I find myself wanting to breathe new life into familiar spaces. So what better way than to start with the entryway and work my way inside?

For starters, I’m going to paint my front door a beautiful shade of moss green, then clean things up, power-wash all the dirt and cobwebs from the home’s exterior, and place a pretty wrought-iron bench adorned with throw pillows—along with several potted plants and flowers—near the door.

Once inside, I proceed with decluttering and cleaning. A simple rearranging of furniture can make a huge difference, as readers will discover in this issue’s article on professional stagers.

Staging is a crucial step to bring out any home’s best features, especially for anyone putting their home on the real estate market. Sometimes decluttering and adding strategic pieces of new furniture are all you need to make that critical first impression a “wow!”

Speaking of first impressions, one of the many perks of being OmahaHome’s contributing editor is helping to find residential gems and having a sneak peek into the homes prior to featuring them. Gary and Beth Bowen’s chic cottage, nestled amongst the trees, is a warm and inviting home that is sure to impress.

When decorating for the spring season, don’t be afraid to bring the outside indoors with flowers freshly cut from the yard. Or try your hand at the hottest trend livening up living spaces this year—succulents.

Succulents are an easy-to-please houseguest; they survive indoors with minimal effort. I’ve also joined the succulent bandwagon, and my arrangement made for a colorful (and hopefully inspirational) DIY this issue.

Here’s to greenery poking out from all directions. Spring is in the air. Cheers!


This article was printed in the May/June 2018 edition of OmahaHome.

Sandy Matson is the contributing editor for OmahaHome.

 

Starting Seeds

April 15, 2018 by

Growing produce is a great way to save money on groceries and promote healthy eating. Buying greenhouse-started plants is one option, but starting your own seedlings allows you to grow atypical plants at a fraction of the cost.

Springtime planting takes a little bit of foresight, so plan ahead. Seeds should be started six to eight weeks prior to planting in the ground. With Nebraska’s climate, seedlings will not survive in the winter cold and should be started indoors or with protection.

Dr. David Hibler, the owner of the Benson Plant Rescue, recommends starting your seeds in January or February. Hibler says that this will help you get your plants in the ground before the generally accepted frost-safe date of around May 4, noting that the date has been less consistent in recent years.

To start seedlings indoors, Hibler says you need three things: a light source, moisture, and a growing medium such as soil. He says kits are available, with the “72 slot” being a popular option. The 72 slot is a small greenhouse-like tray with subdivided slots for growing medium and seeds.

For the growing medium, expanding medium pellets are an easy option. Hibler recommends a lightweight organic seed-starting mix. Soil can be mixed with peat moss or vermiculite to lighten it. Hibler also recommends reusing seed trays and soils.

For lighting, Hibler recommends full-spectrum fluorescent lights. “Daylight” bulbs, he says, are often a fraction of the price of “grow lights” but contain the necessary spectrum. A brood light with a full-spectrum, compact fluorescent bulb also works well. He says LEDs are also available.

Hibler says that when the soil reaches around 64 degrees Fahrenheit and there is no risk of frost, seedlings can be planted. Perennials, he notes, can tolerate a little bit of frost.

John Porter, agriculture program coordinator with the University of Nebraska Agriculture School, lends a few supplementary suggestions. Porter says seeds need around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit to germinate. Once they come up and have leaves on them, they need to be a bit cooler—60-65 degrees Fahrenheit—so they don’t get long and leggy. He notes that most seeds don’t need light to get started. He says they can be started on top of the refrigerator for warmth.

Porter also recommends sterile soil and sterilized containers. “There are some diseases that will kill the seedlings when they are very young,” he says. Porter also recommends using recycled containers for seedlings. They will need drain holes. He recommends cleaning them with a detergent and sterilizing with a 10 percent bleach solution.

Once the seeds germinate and have leaves, they should go into the potting soil. “Seeds have the nutrients to get [seedlings] into the first set of leaves; they don’t need nutrients until then,” Porter says.

As for lighting, Porter says commercial greenhouses use LEDs, but fluorescent bulbs also work. He notes that if full-spectrum bulbs are not available, a mix of warm and cool fluorescent bulbs contain enough of the light spectrum required for most seedlings. Porter recommends putting the lights as close to the seedlings as possible without causing damage to the plants.

Growing seedlings indoors is not an exact science to yield good results. If you need supplies, the Benson Plant Rescue has them for sale, or Hibler can steer you to the right place to find them. If you want to learn the science of starting seeds, Porter offers a course with the Douglas-Sarpy County Extension Office. Everything else about starting your own seeds and planting your garden is DIY. That is half the charm.

The Benson Plant Rescue is on Facebook at @bensonplantrescue and can be reached by e-mail at bensonplantrescue@cox.net. Details on plant propagation classes with the Douglas-Sarpy County Extension Office are available at extension.unl.edu/statewide/douglas-sarpy or by e-mail at john.porter@unl.edu.

This article was printed in the March/April 2018 edition of OmahaHome.