Tag Archives: remodel

Vintage Charm Restored

July 10, 2017 by

As the saying goes, one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. Last year, I struck gold with two vintage chairs that I uncovered during a thrifting trip.

The find just goes to show how little things can bring the greatest joys in life. Looking at these chairs in the thrift shop, I could already see how to revive them with a little work and creative thinking.

Normally, I have a rule for thrifting: Always designate space for a piece of furniture before dragging it home. But these chairs were an exception. Home with me they came.

They sat in a spare bedroom until I decided how to incorporate them into my year-long Omaha Home room remodeling project.

With this particular installment of the project, I wanted to achieve a classic look (with a little glamour added, of course). That’s where the white and gold paint came into play for the color scheme.

Choosing the right fabric would either make or break the look I was trying to achieve. Just throwing any old material on them was not going to work. I wanted something timeless, classic, and durable enough to stand the test of time.

I have many different pieces I’m bringing together for this entire year-long project. Each component will bring something unique stylistically to the room. Don’t be afraid to mix and match different styles and textures; it adds more interest to the room.

DIRECTIONS:

There are several steps that you need to get right when staining or painting wooden furniture. These steps ensure that all of your hard work pays off, and you can then proudly display your piece. You cannot skip the important prepping steps.

Prepping

Step 1—If you have a seat cushion on your chair, remove that first. Save the old fabric and cushion for later.

Step 2—Sand the chair until you remove all the glossy finish. This will allow the paint to better adhere to the chair.

Step 3—Use a tack cloth to remove all the sanded paint/material from the surface.

Step 4—Prime. I used a spray primer, which was easier to get in all of the detailed parts of this chair. Make sure each coat of primer is a light layer, almost dusting it. This way, your chair won’t suffer from paint runs. You may want to sand between coats if you are seeking a super-smooth finish. Also, using the correct paint is very important. Latex paint worked best for me.

Step 5—Use your hand sponge applicator to get your paint in all the hard-to-access areas and detailed spots. Once you have done this, you can take your foam roller to cover the entire piece. Go over the chair several times (or until you feel there is good coverage).

Step 6—If you are doing a detailed accent color, first make sure all your paint is dry. Then tape off the selected area and use a small brush for all detail work. I used what I had on hand—gold spray paint—but I sprayed it into an old cup and dipped my brush into that. You can also buy a small bottle from a craft store if you require a smaller amount.

Step 7 (optional)—Apply a top coat to seal the paint on the chair. I skipped this step and used a semi-gloss finish instead.

Step 8—Now for your cushion. Remove all the old staples from your chair cushion. You can use a flathead screwdriver and then pull them out with needle-nose pliers. Once the old fabric is off, determine if you need to replace the batting material or foam cushion. Mine was still intact, so I went to the next step.

Step 8—Cut out a piece of new fabric large enough that will wrap around the seat of your chair; leave about three inches of material (you will trim it off later). Or you can use the old piece of material as a template, allowing a few inches all the way around. Lay the seat cushion facedown on your material. Starting on one side, grab the material in the middle and wrap it around the cushion, pulling tightly, and place a staple in the middle.

Then do the opposite side, pulling tightly to the middle and placing a staple. Work your way around each side until you just have the corners left.

Step 9—Grasp one corner of your cover and pull the point toward the center of the seat cushion, staple. Arrange the remaining unstapled corner fabric into small even pleats, pulling tightly, and staple. Repeat this until all corners are complete. Make sure you don’t staple over the screw holes. At this point, you could add a piece of liner or dust cover (a dust cover is a black fabric that is generally seen under “store bought” chairs, concealing springs, nails, staples, etc.). Adding the dust cover is optional.

Step 10—Attach the cushion back on the chair, and you are done.

Note: I watched several tutorials for “chair restoration” and “chair refurbishment” on YouTube before beginning this vintage chair project. I suggest doing the same video tutorial research before beginning your own project as this can be very helpful. Good luck!

ITEMS NEEDED:

Two vintage chairs (or upholstered seat dining chairs), 1/2 yard fabric per seat cushion, and 1/2 lining per seat cushion

Scissors, tape measure, staple gun, staples, screwdriver, safety glasses

Sandpaper (in medium and fine grit)

Four cans of primer (I used Rustoleum Painters Touch 2X paint and primer), two cans per chair

One quart of latex paint (I used White Dove paint from Benjamin Moore elsewhere in the room, and Home Depot staff helped match the latex paint for the chairs)

Sponge roller

Several hand sponge applicators (different sizes)

One can gold spray paint (or a small bottle of gold paint from a craft store would suffice)

Fabric of choice

Sandy’s yearlong DIY remodeling series began with an introduction to the room in the January/February issue. The first of five projects, a coffee filter lamp, debuted in the March/April issue. Rustic wall vases followed in May/June. Stay tuned for the next installment. Visit readonlinenow.com to review back issues.

This article was printed in the July/August 2017 Edition of Omaha Home.

A Fresh Homemade Kitchen

June 21, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Out of all the genius quotes from world-renowned architects and designers, Kylie Von Seggern’s favorite comes from a celebrity chef.

Her profile on Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture’s website lists the words of Anthony Bourdain as her favorite quote: “Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them—wherever you go.”

The mantra manifests itself throughout the architect and interior designer’s professional work and private life.

Von Seggern prefers adaptive reuse to high-profile mega projects, and she embraces community engagement and activism. Her responsive ideology is likewise evident in the renovation of her home in the Hanscom Park neighborhood.

Kylie Von Seggern

While house shopping in 2015, she wanted to find an older home with built-in character. That’s exactly what she found in her current residence, built in 1908.

The previous owner had lived there for 50 years. The warm gray interior featured dense wood trim, exquisite detailing, and the creek of wood floors. It was the perfect combination of good bones and room for updates.

For the interior remodel, she proposed “more of a modern upgrade” than a total overhaul. The kitchen, however, lacked the rest of the house’s inherent character.

She recently renovated the kitchen to achieve a crisp, airy gathering space. She replaced the limited cabinetry and floors. But she kept the kitchen’s existing plaster walls.

For Von Seggern, the kitchen is important because everyone is always there—regardless if there’s a party or not. Part of the reason stems from her roommate being a chef.

Throughout and beyond her home, Von Seggern’s approach to design and architecture resonates with creative culinary instincts: Like a great homemade meal, “It tastes so good because you made it,” she says. 

Growing up in Lincoln, design-oriented interests eventually led her to the architecture program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

While at UNL, she participated in a 2010 study abroad program to Guatemala where she learned vernacular cinder-block building techniques.

In Guatemala, she began hypothesizing the duplicitous meanings of a home. Von Seggern ultimately realized, “Not everyone wants a McMansion,” and more importantly, “functionality over aesthetics” takes precedence.

She also studied abroad in Germany before completing her degree in Nebraska. With such international experience, her attraction to the Bourdain quotation becomes obvious. The preceding sentence of the full direct quote is: “If you’re [young], physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel—as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to.”

She began working at Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture after completing her Master of Architecture in 2013, and she began lending her voice to local architectural advocacy efforts as a volunteer at Restoration Exchange Omaha.

Von Seggern’s volunteer work allows her to have a direct impact in Omaha while developing skills in navigating city bureaucracy and finding ways to remain responsive to older architecture instead of reactively always looking for the new.

Back in her home on the edge of Hanscom Park, her kitchen is a perfect example of her finding this balance on her own terms.

Visit alleypoyner.com/kylie-von-seggern for more information.

This article was printed in the July/August 2017 Edition of Omaha Home.

A Glamorous, Functional Basement Remodel

Photography by Tom Grady

Seeking a grand basement remodel, a client came to me with hopes of creating a unified space with smaller intimate areas instead of an open floor plan. The original space felt very disconnected with no visual interest.

My solution focused on two separate spaces of the floor plan. Both sections of the basement would feature multiple functions: one area revolved around a sunken kitchenette/bar, and the other was an empty space transformed into a theater/display area.

The first part of the challenge was to create a properly lit display while providing storage within the bar area. We needed to add a dynamic visual element without altering the integrity of the existing brick veneer.

Our solution was to add horizontal reclaimed wood panels that pull the whole space together while providing a pub-like entertaining area. The resulting contemporary space makes use of layers of depth and dimension to provide a central focal point for social gatherings.

The asymmetrical design of the sunken bar area is enhanced with LED lighting, which further enhances the sophisticated environment. Bespoke finishes infuse rustic charm into the modern basement, forming the perfect union of domestic utility and alluring elegance. Displayed sentimental objects stand in harmonious contrast with time-worn salvaged materials and the interplay of light and shadow.

A large circle on the bar wall offers a crucial design element unifying the space. The scale of the circle balances the weightiness of the massive bar. Radiant light offsets and enhances the circle, giving the illusion that it is floating in air. The circle’s LED under-lit shelves provides plenty of space for the liquor bottles, and the offset shelving allows for additional personal items to be displayed.

By adding the walnut shell and lights to the existing metallic wood console table, it became repurposed and connected to the bar area.

Two guitars on an adjacent wall, mounted on a wooden circle, became a piece of art grounding the empty space leading to the guest bathroom.

To satisfy the clients, who are avid sports fans, the most challenging part of the basement’s theater space was to showcase their collection of jerseys while allowing the ability to watch multiple televisions at once. At the center of this design, I strived to cultivate a sensory experience that transcends the utilitarian functionality of the theater setting. Contemporary aesthetics find a careful balance of personal whims and fancies in the second of the basement’s main spaces. Relaxing here, the homeowners feel like they are in a high-end Las Vegas casino private suite while watching their favorite teams play.

The design conceptualization for the theater and display area stems from a faithful adherence to well-defined boundaries. JaDecor wall covering offers remarkable appearance with excellent acoustical properties. The round custom fiber optics and the dark-oak Melinga panels in the ceiling add spectacular visual interest to the space that once was a rectangle tray.

I really wanted the sports theater walls to properly light their jersey collection—which changes annually—while not interfering with the theater environment. Back-lighting the twelve individual panels with LED strip lights cleverly works into the overall aesthetic. The picture lights illuminate the symmetry of the jerseys and provide a side drop for the TV wall.

The purposeful ornamentation of the jerseys provides a dramatic display satisfying even the most discerning homeowner.

The experience of the finished project is such an amazing space to entertain and enjoy life with family and friends.

From the bar to the theater, and across the entire basement, the overall design embodies simplicity and modern functionality, leaving a lasting impression that makes you want to enjoy the space in good company.

The end result achieves the client’s goal of balancing personal expression and functional glamour with youthful exuberance. It is a welcoming space for any time of the day—and any season—for many years to come.

Visit artisticodesign.net to see more of the designer’s work.

This article was printed in the July/August 2017 Edition of Omaha Home.

Living Large in the Backyard

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

If there were but one thing to consider before building your very own epic backyard party central, equipped with all the essential grilling and barbecue fixtures, it is this: Your guests don’t have to live with whatever outdoor Franken-kitchen you cobble together from your inner Cro-Magnon desire for fired meats.

No, they rub their bellies, hopefully thank their gracious hosts, and go home. It’s you who must live with what remains.

The better approach, it appears, is the path Stephen and Joy Abels took on their West Omaha home.

From left: Stephen, Joy, and Chelsea Abels

“Be patient,” Joy says. “The best design is probably not going to be your first or second design.”

The Abels thought long and hard about what they wanted their backyard to be. They hosted regular gatherings, a tradition they knew would continue. They like pizza about as much as anyone else, but not so much that an outdoor pizza oven made a lot of sense.

And they knew they enjoyed hosting friends and family, but that didn’t mean they wanted to be a caterer—just grill some fine meats, maybe smoke the occasional brisket or prime rib roast. That would be sufficient.

From a practical design perspective, they most desired a space to spend comfortably warm afternoons and evenings with their guests.

But the Abels also knew their kitchen table overlooked the backyard from large facing windows. They didn’t want an expansive gray slab of concrete (with a few deck chairs anchored together by some sort of monstrous outdoor fire pit) to mar their daily view.

So they saved. They scratched out ideas on napkins and random scraps of paper. And they spent countless hours stalking the internet for other inspirations on websites like houzz.com.

They began planning three years ago, when Stephen went for an evening stroll through the neighborhood.

A few doors down, he noticed a neighbor’s impressive backyard fireplace. Stephen had no idea who the neighbor was, but in that moment, he turned up the driveway and knocked on the door.

“I introduced myself, said, ‘Love your fireplace, tell me about it.’ He said, ‘Come on in.’ And he gave me Hugh’s name,” Stephen says, referring to Hugh Morton, co-owner of Sun Valley Landscaping, the company that would eventually redevelop the Abels’ backyard.

The Abels wanted to create a space that felt “like Nebraska.” Morton was happy to listen and accommodate their wishes. The finished product fits perfectly in place.

Morton’s design includes native trees and bushes in the landscaping, brickwork resembling quarried limestone from Ashland, and even the calming white noise of a stepped water feature. Everything seems a natural fit.

Perhaps the neater trick is the elegant flow into the style of the house. Although built years apart, the outside living area transitions seamlessly with the style of the indoors.

“The challenge for Hugh was I wanted it to feel comfortable for four people or 40,” Stephen says. “And I think he did a good job.”

There’s plenty room for the epic backyard barbecue, if the mood strikes; or a tranquil afternoon of quiet study for the family’s four home-schooled children; or just another one of their weekly church group nights of about two dozen people.

It’s exactly what they need it to be, when they need it. As it should be.

They put in the time, making sure the space was just right.

“And whatever you think it’s going to cost,” Stephen says, “round up.”

Visit sunvalleyomaha.com for more information about the company responsible for the Abels’ backyard space.

From left: Christian, Cameron, Stephen, Chelsea, and Joy Abels

This article was printed in the July/August 2017 Edition of Omaha Home.

10,000 Ideas in 10,000 Square Feet

March 3, 2016 by
Photography by Thomas Grady

From confined, concise rooms to open, flowing spaces…this 10,000 square foot home has been completely transformed. The foundation and exterior frame remain, but the entire interior has been reconstructed. New floor plans were created within these constraints based upon the homeowner’s needs, desires, and existing furnishings. Along with builder Choice Homes, architect Ron Hackett, and the homeowner, we worked together to reconstruct this home into a modern take on a natural and rustic-inspired design with hints of old world tradition. Not one detail was overlooked.

Hand-scraped wood floors and beams invite guests into the entry and move throughout the entire home. The curved staircase with custom ironwork, glass accents, and tile- detailed risers flow through the three levels.

The great room ceiling was raised to the second floor and larger windows were installed to open the home. A two-sided stone fireplace with a floating limestone hearth opens the great room to the hearth room and raises the eye to the exposed distressed beams. An additional roof was integrated to incorporate a covered back patio where a built-in bar, grill, and fireplace formed an outdoor living area.

A color palate composed of rich copper, red, turquoise, and mink streams throughout the home. Bronze plumbing and lighting selections were made to compliment these tones and add touches of timeless charm.

The stone encasing the dining room and kitchen range wall, along with custom wall finishes, add warmth to the space. A distinctive bar-height and angle within the kitchen island inspired unique granite and stone selections. Pedants with hammered amber glass and metal detail in combination with an antique mirror backsplash are featured in the dinette to add a tinge of an old world feel.

Just beyond the great room a striking powder bath uses Backdraft granite that continues from the counter to the ceiling. The drama continues with the unique starburst wall details and pebble floor.

The master bathroom and bedroom are still contained in traditional elements but with a hint of flair. The lavish master bath features custom cabinetry, wall finishes, and tile designs. Marble tile with glass detail flows up the entire whirlpool wall. Polished nickel, quartz, and artistic glass features add bling, taking the space to the next level of richness.
A custom-designed curved theater room barn door welcomes friends to a spacious and entertaining lower level. Rustic stone walls set the tone in the bar and family room. The wine cellar boasts a custom iron door and soft, glowing, back-lit onyx counters. The rustic undertones continue into the powder bath with a glass tile floor, mirrored cabinetry, and hand-created wall texture.

This remodeled open floor plan with more than adequate circulation space and custom finishes allows the homeowner to live conveniently and entertain with ease.

The 2015 NE-IA ASID Project Awards presented this home a Silver Award.

Visit idfomaha.com to learn more.

100 Years and Counting

September 24, 2014 by
Photography by Sarah Lemke

In 1914, the stately home at 6129 Florence Blvd. was brand new. Built by Laura D. and Edward Cackley, owner of Cackley Bros. wine and liquor house, it was a Prairie Style home for its time, brick-walled, hipped-roofed and tucked alongside what was known at the time as the
Prettiest Mile in Omaha.

The home changed hands frequently over the years, and by 1935 it was the home of U.S. Senator Edward R. Burke.

By 2010, 6129 Florence Blvd. wasn’t quite so brand new.

“When I drove up to it,” says Thomas Wood, “I looked at the listing and thought, ‘Is this the right address?’ The front door was a slab. There was no heating or air-conditioning. The plumbing was shot. A lot had to be done. Everything had to be done.”

So Wood bought it.

“It had Thom Wood written all over it,” he adds.

In July that year, Wood’s 18-year-old son, Eddie, was killed in Afghanistan. Eddie had been home on leave in June; Wood went with him to the airport on June 30. On July 5, U.S. Army officials came to Wood’s door with the news.

A former contractor, Wood was an auto dealer at the time. He’d been living in an apartment and had been considering buying a condo. He’d restored old homes in the past and swore he’d never do it again—he’d sold his tools to prove it.

But Eddie is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in North Omaha, and Wood wanted to be close. The home seemed like a project he could “kind of do on the side,” something he’d work on for six months or a year as a way to clear his head.

The day after he bought the house, Wood started working on the garage and roof, which had both collapsed. Later, snow and ice were blowing in through the house’s 60 windows. It took a couple of weeks to get the heat up and running. Wood “just kind of camped out” inside.

He gutted whole parts of 6129 Florence Blvd. He restored it from the inside out.

Today, the house’s floor plan is the same as it was 100 years ago. The entryway offers two doors—one to the family living area and one to a business office, where Edward Cackley probably met with clients and where Wood does his own office work today. The oak molding in the office—which had been walled off when Wood bought the house—was gone, and was also missing in places in the front family room. Wood rebuilt it. The pale wood floor, which Wood was once advised to replace entirely, is mostly original.

He preserved a large mantle in the front room and a built-in sideboard in the dining room as well as built-in shelves in the sunroom, some of which he moved into the office. A three-season porch off the dining room—still as it was when Wood bought the house—lets in ample light.

In the kitchen, Wood created new built-in cabinets with sides that extend from the walls, offering the illusion of individual pieces of furniture. Though the decor throughout the house is largely traditional, there are transitional touches—a stuffed chair in the sunroom, where Wood spends a lot of his time, is one. An eclectic mix of art and an oversized clock on the black-painted walls in the front room feels like another such touch.

Upstairs is the master bedroom, Wood’s daughter’s bedroom, his second son’s bedroom, the master bath and a sewing room. Wood, a longtime historical reenactor, makes period clothing—for himself, his daughter (who sometimes joins him for reenactments) and for other enthusiasts. He portrays Col. Henry Leavenworth at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park.

“In Omaha,” he adds, “people tend to think a house is something you buy and then use it up and get rid of it. But if it’s taken care of and fixed, it can last indefinitely. You’ve got to stick with it.”

As for Wood, he’s sticking with 6129 Florence Blvd.

“I like it here,” he says. “The front door is squeaky. But a dog has to have some fleas to be reminded it’s a dog. An old house has to have squeaky doors. But it’s a solid thing.”

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Adding Spice to a Saltbox

Photography by Tom Kessler

This beautiful home on a tree-lined street was the perfect saltbox-style house for my transplanted client from the Northeast (where this colonial-era style is common). They loved many features of the house, but there were a few missing elements that needed work before this could become their perfect home.

For one: They longed for a powder room off the backyard swimming pool. We remodeled the existing laundry to become a new creative pool bath. The new laundry was relocated to the master suite. The tight space required careful consideration to give the illusion of openness and yet include a new shower. A glass “window” in the shower wall allows the viewer’s eye to flow through the space. A beautiful remnant of caramel-colored onyx created the perfect touch for a countertop. We extended the top to the left of the cabinet in another space expanding feature. Finally, a touch of whimsy was added in the cobalt blue drawer pulls.

The project then moved into the kitchen. We analyzed the kitchen and its obvious problems and challenges. The new floor plan is focused on efficiency and space to give the owners, who love to cook, the best possible layout to work their magic. When they lived in France, they learned to love French cooking and incorporate fresh garden herbs from right outside their door in their cuisine.

We found a unique granite surface in subtle silver gray on a white crystalline surface. The wood tones of the cherry cabinets repeat in the touches of wine in the granite. The fluid-style granite top continues at the edge of the peninsula into a rounded work area.

Additional special features include Peruvian tiger wood floors, LED lighting throughout, mosaic accented backsplashes, and highly efficient cabinet storage. Note the hand-shaped marble tiles surrounding the sink window that complete the clean-lines of this beautiful kitchen.

Casual entertaining involving the pool and their wonderful kitchen has transformed their residence into a more updated and welcoming home.

Credits:
Designer: Marilyn S. Hansen FASID, The Designers
Eurowood Cabinets
Hansen Tile
Bosco Home Improvement
Baxter Kenworthy Electric
Malloy Plumbing
Tom Manley Floors
Martin’s Countertops
Kessler Photography

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Earth, Air, Fire, Water

April 30, 2014 by
Illustration by Diamond Vogel

The worldview of ancient peoples often included a set of classical elements in describing the very essence of matter. Earth, Air, Fire, and Water came to symbolize the irreducible powers of the planet.

What could three creative talents do in terms of translating these primordial concepts into the most organic of color palettes?

Let’s see what happens when an award-winning theatrical set designer, a tattoo artist, Omaha Magazine’s creative director, and the color pros from Diamond Vogel use that company’s online Envision Color Visualizer tool to “paint” their inspiration.

Photo-Contest---Earth

“Brown, beige, clay. These are the colors of earth. We have gone beneath the surface to explore what lies below by choosing minerals and gemstones as our inspiration. The soft gold in the stairwell will refract light in contrast to the rich, blue-green of the walls. Entering the bedroom you find the unexpected element of a green ceiling. Remember that ceilings are your “fifth wall.” They offer a very effective, additional field of color. The complementary color on the bedroom wall is Diamond Vogel’s interpretation of Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year—Radiant Orchid. All of these colors come together and are grounded by the richly hued earth tones of both the carpet and the light beige trim.”

Towanda Marks, Pam McCarthy,and Judy Nowak
The Diamond Vogel Team

Photo-Contest---Wind

“Air? You’ve got to be kidding! What the heck am I supposed to do with that which you can’t see? As it turns out, the answer was right under my nose all along. Glancing down at my drafting table I saw the color palette I had chosen for designing our production of Boeing-Boeing. This farcical comedy set in 1962 features a swinging bachelor who juggles a gaggle of what were then called “stewardesses.” I had selected a somewhat subdued and breezy, ‘60s-themed collection of hues (think Marimekko design mixed with a bit of early Warhol) to evoke an airy, almost weightless feel for the era when jet air travel was still new, exotic, and…well, downright sexy.” 

Jim Othuse
Scenic and Lighting Designer, Omaha Community Playhouse

Photo-Contest---Fire

“When contemplating my assigned element, my mind immediately went to thoughts of enjoying the ambiance of a cozy fire surrounded by low-light candles enveloping me in a serene, flickering glow. It instantly evokes an aura of home, warmth, and safety. As a tattoo artist, I approached the room as I would a tattoo. I chose a combination of colors that compliment each other to create a beautiful and unique canvas. With the element of fire, I thought of reds, oranges, and yellows. I used them here to create a room that feels pleasant, mellow, and comforting…much like a relaxing evening in front of the fireplace.”

Johnna McCreary
Tattoo artist and co-owner, Liquid Courage Tattoos

Photo-Contest---Water

“My aquatic inspiration came from Pantone’s 2013 color of the year—Emerald. More importantly—and a lot dearer to my heart—is the fact that this is the assortment of colors that my wife, Trisha, and I are using to prepare a nursery as we await the birth of our first child. Clean lines and cleaner palettes are found throughout our home, so I’ve reflected that theme with gray-ish surfaces that exist only to ground and add “oomph” to the brighter, more vibrant hues surrounding them. We’ll be adding coral-tinted accents in throw pillows and other soft elements to punctuate the room with some “pop.” Come late September, the nursery will be the center of activity on so many much-anticipated (but probably sleepless) nights.”

John Gawley
Creative Director, Omaha Magazine

Be Our Guest

August 27, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“They tell me, it’s up to you to change things out. We trust you.” Alex Ostblom, a landscape designer for Lanoha Nurseries, strolls across a newly transformed Westside lawn, naming flowers off the top of his head. Impatiens, begonias, mandevilla, and sweet alyssum are planted in great swaths of color, sweeping along sidewalk, driveway, and around to a brand-new back yard. Guests to the remodeled home might never suspect what the place looked like just a few months earlier.

Ostblom explains that the homeowners wanted a lawn that matched their refinished house’s new capabilities: to blend in with the rest of the stately neighborhood and to provide a perfect space to entertain family members and close friends. “Other than that,” he says, “they didn’t have too many particulars.” So Ostblom let his creativity loose, beginning the design process in March and construction in May. The entire project was completed by June 15.

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The first order of business was to redesign an unsightly retaining wall that led around the north of the house to the back yard. Originally made of concrete block, the five-foot wall created a tight alley between the house and a small mountain of unusable back yard. Its considerable height so close to the back of the house blocked off half of the dining and living room windows. A cramped patio made a stab at bringing hospitality to the space.

To simultaneously create a much less imposing wall while also making the yard itself usable, Ostblom removed tons of dirt to create tiers of lawn that allowed him to install a limestone wall less than two feet tall. The limestone complements colors in the house and can actually be found in the landscaping of nearby homes, bringing the property more into the neighborhood’s fold. Large blocks of the limestone accent the front and back yard, “giving the grandkids something to climb around on,” Ostblom points out.

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Thanks to the greatly shortened wall, guests in the dining and living rooms can enjoy a panorama of seasonal annuals (“One of the owners just loves lots of color,” Ostblom says), a rose cutting garden, and mature evergreens. “They wanted everything to look like it’d been there for years,” Ostblom says, so Lanoha Nurseries set field-grown spruce and conifers in place with machinery. “That’s a one-time deal,” he explains. “If the trees don’t take to this well, we can’t get the equipment back in here to put in more of that size.” So he’s monitoring their progress closely, already eyeing some barely noticeable brown needles on a spruce. “That one might be under stress from over watering.”

Frequent entertainment of friends and family meant the homeowners needed a large, welcoming space. In particular, they wanted a gas fire pit large enough where several people could comfortably gather. The idea of an L-shaped outdoor kitchen was tossed around, but the couple decided instead to place a simple grill out of sight around the home’s south corner to ensure that the fire pit remained their outdoor gathering place. A gas line leads from the house to the grill; no empty propane cans here.

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Ostblom notes that establishing such a mature landscape within six weeks calls for careful attention to how light will change over the seasons. Most of the yard is in at least partial shade, particularly in the front yard and to the north. To the northeast and east, the yard transitions into full sun. To cope with the variety of landscape elements (varying light, drainage, and plants with differing needs), Ostblom says he redesigned the home’s irrigation entirely. “They have turf, trees, annuals…it all requires different watering.” To facilitate easy maintenance by Lanoha Nurseries without disturbing the homeowners, Ostblom had the irrigation clock moved from inside the garage to just inside the gate in the backyard.

“I visit about once a month,” he says, though he admits he makes the rounds in the neighborhood frequently, checking in on this and other landscaping projects for any signs of trouble. “Communication. That’s the biggest part in making sure it all looks amazing.”

Balance & Harmony

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Angel Stottle

As an interior designer (and a Libran), Susan T. McMannama, ASID, has always sought balance and harmony within her projects. In the case of this recent remodel of the lower level of a home in Champions Run, harmony was needed to balance the wife’s desire for a contemporary feel with the husband’s desire for a hideaway fit for a transplanted Texas Longhorn.IMG_4569_web

There were a few must-haves requested by the homeowners: a full-size kitchen for entertaining, plenty of storage, a wine room, a fireplace, and a bedroom for frequent guests. The husband wanted to include a pair of Eames chairs and ottomans. Plus, all of the finish materials should be easy to maintain, and the colors needed to flow from space to space.

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Space for the guest bedroom area was found by relocating the door to the furnace and storage room, creating a hallway that separated the quiet area from the more active spaces. The new entrance to the furnace/storage room included double doors. A Murphy bed system was implemented within new cabinetry on one wall of the bedroom. Luxurious bedding from The Linen Gallery was used to add softness and a pop of color. The bedroom could double as a home gym.IMG_4606_web

A quartz material was used for the abundant countertops in the kitchen, and a glass tile mosaic, selected by the husband, was used for the backsplash. The custom cabinetry, which was stained and glazed, can store all of the dishes and equipment for any size gathering. Lighting, both underneath and inside glass cabinets, added sparkle and helped illuminate the couple’s glass and bottle collection. The travertine-looking ceramic tile floor flows from the kitchen through to the wine storage room and into the bathroom and hallways. Custom counter stools were upholstered in a woven leather fabric.IMG_4499_web

After relocating the door to the bathroom, the original tub/shower was removed and a new walk-in shower with a floating bench took its place. A sleek, hand held faucet and an oversized showerhead were used to balance the size of the shower. The original vanity received a new quartz counter plus a glass vessel sink. Marble and glass tiles were used to frame the existing mirror.

The symmetrical sectionals in the sitting/viewing area flank the pair of Eames chairs and ottomans. A new fireplace and TV were built into a recessed area that formerly held a big-screen TV. Light oak “drinks” tables harmonize with the black leather. A mica wall covering was installed on the fireplace wall and also on the wall with the buffet.IMG_4628_web

To keep marital harmony in the family, a photo of a Texas Longhorn was hung above the buffet. Two more steers soon followed for the sitting area, followed by a fourth in the wine room. The final Longhorn was hung in the hallway to the bedroom, with a treasured antique bench (hers) placed below for balance.