Tag Archives: renovation

Sometimes Life’s a Beach

March 25, 2018 by and
Photography by Jeffrey Bebee

Imagine you are in a Florida beach house. This is what our client wanted to feel every day when they walked into their kitchen.

Although the home was built with a very closed-concept floor plan, we took this challenge head-on.

Our main challenge was to open up the space. We did so by tearing down the wall between both the formal dining room and moderate-sized kitchen. This allowed the natural light to pour in, which was essential in the overall feel of the space.

Meanwhile, we carefully planned adequate storage in the cabinetry so that we could run windows along the entire length of the kitchen without upper cabinets. Since the home is located on sprawling land just north of Omaha, the added windows allowed the western view to roll on through the beautiful new bank of glass.

For the finishes, we kept things light and bright, adding very specific points of interest. We incorporated lots of crisp white woodwork and warmed things up with a walnut-stained wood floor. Clean white quartz perimeter counters added another touch of serenity and simple flow, while rich iron hardware succeeded in creating a nice contrast with the white.

We topped the design off with a tranquil blue tongue-and-groove wood ceiling and an island constructed from the family’s inherited old planks of wood. The color palette was also crucial to the overall aesthetic of the room: whites, oceanic blues, intense purples, and nature-inspired greens.

Together, these elements worked to create a calm, beautiful space with just the right amount of punch.

The biggest hurdle we faced was working around the existing locations of doors, adjoining rooms, and the staircase.

We wanted to create an open area for entertaining while maintaining as much of the integrity of the original space plan as possible. This resulted in careful design of each elevation in order to provide a functional work triangle and flow of the space.

A space needs to be as functional as it is beautiful, and we feel this one is definitely a gem to surround yourself in. We were honored to design, guide, and help complete the transformation of this space, allowing us to witness our client enjoying their long sought-after dream kitchen.


Rachael Cavanaugh

Julie Hockney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julie Hockney and Rachael Cavanaugh co-designed this project. They are two of the six designers at jh Interior Design Studio. Now in business for 10 years, they recently expanded, for the fourth time, into a new studio featuring a unique shopping boutique and design office. The firm designs both residential and commercial spaces and has designed spaces ranging from 1,200 square feet to 40,000 square feet. The designers’ goal is to create a curated space suited for success—no matter the size. They focus on bridging the gap between function and aesthetic, with a strong emphasis on how their clients will use their space. Their design team aims to make each client’s space an extension of their own personality, all the while having a great experience during the design process.


Visit juliehockney.com to learn more about the designers responsible for this kitchen transformation.

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

Wood Works

February 16, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It all began with a Hail Mary pass to get Graham Nabity enrolled at Elkhorn High School in time for football season.

In 2010, David and Kim Nabity hastily moved from their 5,000-square-foot Pacific Hollow home to a 2,700-square-foot, 1965 Elkhorn home just in time for Graham to suit up that fall. With three of the seven Nabity children still under the roof at the time, David says they “sardined” themselves into the new, smaller home.

“The whole point was moving in with enough time for [Graham] to start at Elkhorn, so we always knew at some point we’d do something different with the house, but it took us six years to finally get to the place where we had the design we wanted and were ready to do it,” says David, an Omaha native who grew up in the Benson area.

At the tail end of 2017, after 15 months away for a massive remodeling project, David and Kim finally moved back into their gorgeous, fully redone (now 3,800-square-foot) Elkhorn home that makes heavy use of gorgeous reclaimed barnwood. Why so long? Well, that whole “fully redone” part ended up being much more involved than initially expected.

The first order of business was clearing the ample lot from its excess of uninviting flora.

“The woods were so thick when we moved in you couldn’t even walk through them—it was just dead trees, thickets, poison oak vines, thorn bushes…It took me two years to clean the grounds so we had a meadow,” David says. “By about year four, I’d cleared out all the trees so we could see the beautiful river valley view we have now.” 

From August 2016 through December 2017, the Nabitys moved in with their son, Justin, planning to simply skin the outside and inside of the home, “leave the sticks and the roof, and add on the garage and extension.” But simple was not in the cards for the Nabitys.

The framers reviewed the plans and the house, indicated the plan was not possible, and recommended tearing down the south side of the house. The Nabitys agreed to that, only to discover that the house also lacked headers over the doors and windows, and the frame was not bolted to the foundation. Ultimately, they took the house all the way down to the foundation and built back up from there—thus the unintended 15-month diversion to dwelling in Justin’s unfinished basement.

In January 2017, the Nabitys parted ways with the original general contractor and David took over the project, with no prior construction or homebuilding experience.

“Since I’d never built a house before or been a general contractor, I was flying blind,” he says. “I had to really trust and rely on my subcontractors because I was in uncharted territory.”

But what David lacked in experience, he made up for in vision and vigor.

“Our vision for the house was rustic meets elegance; for the home to feel warm and friendly,” David says. “It’s kind of a Cape Cod look meets mountain home. Over the years, Kim and I visited places like Beaver Creek, Colorado, and Whistler in Canada, and we love the mountain home look of housing in those areas. Since we’re on a hill overlooking the river valley, we wanted to bring that mountain home feel to the house and felt like the barnwood would do the job. We couldn’t be more thrilled with [the result]. It’s exactly what I envisioned it would become.”       

In the meantime, Graham had indeed played football for Elkhorn, and then UNL, before graduating college and partnering in Nebraska Barnwood with David’s friend Tom Day, who had a massive supply of reclaimed barnwood.

“They build barnwood tables, desks, other pieces of furniture, and I bought all my barnwood from their company,” David says. “I picked up the wood, brought it home, power-washed and sanded every board, and stained, painted, or put a clear poly on every board that’s in the house. [Kim] and I worked side by side on that.”

The result is lovely, with a variety of barnwood featured throughout the home, from David’s Western/cowboy-themed office with a horse-worn, notched barn beam and striking multicolored boards in a repeating 8-inch, 4-inch, 6-inch pattern, to the airy, open floor plan living/dining/kitchen area, to the French mountain resort-esque family room with natural stone fireplace, to the stunning master suite, and beyond.

Every inch of the home is appointed with thoughtful care for details like doorknobs, hinges, and other hardware to add subtle elegance, as well as strategic use of knotty alder for certain doors and trim areas to mimic the rustic barnwood charisma. Corresponding colors and themes are found throughout the house.

“Every room’s a little different, and I use the barnwood differently in every room, but I tried to tie all the metals and wood together,” David says. “A lot of thought went into each space as far as how we [executed] to get the look we wanted.”

Ultimately, David says the end result was worth the wait, and though much of the remodel could’ve been achieved with any wood, he and Kim love the way their use of reclaimed barnwood lends character and warms up the home.

“God provides a seed, you plant it in the ground, and it grows into a tree. Then that tree provides fruit or shade until it comes time for the tree to die or be harvested. Then you cut the tree down and can shape the wood into so many different things. But once you stain it and put it at its rightful place, it just lives forever,” he says. “It’s a really phenomenal natural thing, when you think about it. If you take that concept to an old barn, the wood is old, tired, worn, used…yet it still maintains that character, and when you bring it back to life by power-washing, sanding, and staining it, something really special happens. It goes way beyond just being a piece of shiplap; there’s much more to it. It’s an amazing thing.”

Visit nebraskabarnwood.com for more information about Nebraska Barnwood and the reclaimed wood used in the Nabitys’ Elkhorn home.

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

My Thrifty Oasis

January 8, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

With a new year, we all like to start with a clean slate. It’s a chance to do things differently, with more attention to purpose. That was my intention when I started this yearlong renovation of an unused room in my home.

My goal was to create a personal oasis that was not only functional but also serene. I wanted a simple, clean, and elegant look that would stand the test of time.

As I assessed the space, I struggled to decide on the color palette. I finally chose a white-on-white scheme with gold undertones. Actually painting the room, however, would have to wait until the end of the year because my focus would be on each and every DIY piece going in the space.

These individual installments were the basis of my yearlong DIY series in Omaha Home. Starting each project, I had to consider the sequence and time of year for each installment. Photo shoots were outside, which allowed me to add a personal touch to the visuals of the story without spoiling readers’ anticipation for this grand reveal.

Let’s recap the five projects that led to this point. For any readers wondering about the black dress I wore in each photo, you can read the backstory in my opening letter to this issue. Catch a glimpse of the dress in the photos of the finished room, too.

Coffee Filter Light 

Lighting is crucial for setting the mood of any room. But who knew coffee filter light fixtures could turn into something this glamorous?

My first project in this series showcased my first-ever attempt at creating a coffee filter lamp. After 15 hours of folding and hot-gluing coffee filters, this turned out to be much more time-intensive than I had anticipated. The end result, however, offers a great bang for your buck.

Wall-mounted Vases

Having a beautiful arched window in my room was pure luck, so I didn’t want to hide it with heavy window coverings. I wanted to accentuate the window’s design elements. I love what shutters do on outside-facing windows, so I tried to duplicate that look on the inside. Using some dock wood leftover from a prior DIY project, and some paint, the reclaimed wood made the perfect backdrop for my wall-mounted vases.

Repaired Vintage Chairs

Some might see junk at thrift stores. I see winning lottery tickets just waiting for me. It’s all about perception, right? A pair of classic vintage chairs—discovered while thrifting—found a new home in my remodeled room. The happy duo are fabulously seated in front of the window. They also happen to be my favorite DIY project to date.

Repurposed Vanity

A buffet turned vanity? Yep, you can repurpose any piece of furniture, and this shining star got a head-to-toe makeover in soft metallic gold paint. The paint I splurged on (funny how far you can stretch one little jar of paint if you get creative).

Mantel Makeover

The mantel offers a decorative focal point to the room. All it needed was a good sanding (and a coat of the same white paint used throughout the room remodel) to tie everything together.

Once the DIY projects were complete, I recruited my professional friends from Marco Shutters to help me maximize the small closet space. They even designed additional shelving for shoes, jewelry, purses, and accessories. Although I wanted to add softness around the windows, I needed something for privacy while adding elegance. Shutters were the perfect finishing touch.

While all of this was underway, I got to work painting the walls, trim, baseboard, and ceiling. My steps were inverted compared to how I would normally approach a room makeover, as I typically paint a room first, adding the furniture and design components later. Nevertheless, it all came together perfectly. As the grand reveal drew closer, I felt so good about each design decision made along the way.

My favorite part of the remodeling process was placing all of the DIY projects in their designated spots and decorating the completed room. The end result was the boutique-like experience I was seeking, a seamless balance of design and function. As it turns out, you do not have to sacrifice elegance for being thrifty.

Visit readonlinenow.com to review the six previous installments in this DIY room remodeling series in Omaha Home

This article was printed in the January/February 2018 edition of Omaha Home

One Year, Big Life Changes

December 11, 2017 by
Photography by Dawn Kanne, Digital Memories 4U

After the honeymoon, married couples often ask themselves, “What were we thinking?” My clients Bryan and Revé Behrens can relate to the quandary from their newly remodeled home.

Roughly two years ago, Revé contacted me. She was the owner of a local cleaning business that was growing fast. After working hard all day, she wanted to be able to come home and relax in her downtown Omaha apartment. She decided to take a chance and hire a designer to pull things together for her.

Revé already owned many items that she knew she wanted to keep. We made some additional purchases, but it was important to her that any purchases would easily transition to a house one day.

After getting to know her more, I knew the direction we were headed with the design. The apartment would have a quiet, understated elegance—modern and sophisticated, yet comfortable; colorful, but not loud; full of textures and warmth.

We incorporated everything she wished for, and she loved her apartment.

But life happens: Boy meets girl. Girl and boy fall in love. Before long, wedding plans and a house hunt were underway.

Early in their search, Revé and her fiancé found a house to buy. It backed up to a lake, and I could see their vision for the house becoming a beautiful home.

Before Photos

Bryan and Revé also asked me to design their wedding. So, while we were in the process of remodeling, we were also collaborating on wedding plans.

They started remodeling right away to get as much done as they could before the wedding. They wanted to avoid living in the home during the bulk of the renovations, and it was easier to make the bigger changes while the house was empty.

Our goal was to create a modern, updated home without raising the roof or making structural changes to keep costs down for the soon-to-be newlyweds.

Paint, furniture, accessories, some lighting, etc.—all were important. But there were a few other crucial changes that altered the entire feel and appeal of the home.

The fireplace got a much-needed new look. It is now visually interesting while camouflaging their large television with black stone and a custom mantle.

Removing the dividing walls between the kitchen/dining room and the family room created an open floor plan.

New kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts were made, and we painted all the cabinets.

We kept the granite countertops but changed the backsplash to something more fitting.

A custom pantry door was made with a sandblasted message of love engraved on the glass as a wedding gift from the groom to his new bride.

A section of upper cabinets were removed to accommodate a large window combination with shades in between the glass so they could appreciate that lake view from morning till night.

The master bath was gutted and built to accommodate Revé and Bryan’s tall statures, and the hinged door was replaced with a wider pocket door.

Reclaimed barn wood was used to make the custom his-and-hers vanity, mirrors, trim, and doors. His-and-hers recessed medicine cabinets are hidden behind the sliding mirrors.

The master bedroom closets became one large closet before custom barn doors were installed.

A custom curb-less tile shower was a perfect fit.

The newlyweds now have an updated home designed for them. It’s an eclectic mix that feels current, but lived in—one that doesn’t look like you just walked in and pulled a set off a showroom floor.

It’s a wonderful place for them to start their lives together, and to one day maybe even start a family.

This ambitious couple went from living independently, to engagement, planning a wedding, getting married, buying a home, and remodeling that home in less than one year. They are seasoned pros now. I’m not sure they would recommend taking on all of that at once, but the final outcome was worth it.

Visit dawns-designs.com for more information.

This article was printed in the November/December 2017 edition of Omaha Home.

A House Becomes a Beauty Salon

May 24, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The Grey House Salon near 87th and Center streets is called that because it’s gray in color, and it’s shaped like a house.

In fact, it was someone’s house many years ago.  The remnant layout reveals a kitchen, living quarters, and bathrooms.

The house was converted into a beauty salon more than 20 years ago, and was known as Sheer Madness for decades before being vacated a couple of years ago.

When business partners Carmen Stukenholtz and Lacey Ward started looking for a place to open their own salon last year, they remembered the large “Sheer Madness” sign they saw numerous times while driving and sought out the mid-century style house.

“Originally, we wanted to call our business ‘Trust Me Boutique,’ but our lawyer discovered that Nebraska law prohibits businesses from having ‘trust’ in their name because it is misleading,” says Stukenholtz, who worked with Ward for 13 years at another salon before the friends embarked upon becoming business owners together.

There is, indeed, a law from 1924 on the books that states there can be no use of the word “trust” in an LLC.

“We remembered the house, and once we saw it and toured the inside, we knew it was what we wanted. It had a crazy vibe that was different from everything else we saw. It wasn’t generic,” Stukenholtz says.

They bought it, and then painted it gray.

“It’s memorable and easy to find. When we tell people how to find us, we can just tell them to look for the gray house.”

Before opening last summer, Stukenholtz and Ward—along with their husbands and friends—spent two months removing outdated fixtures and décor dating back to the ’80s and ’90s to modernize the salon.

The bulk of the work was strictly cosmetic.

In addition to painting the outside of the building its distinctive gray color, they pulled up carpet and put in new flooring; replaced the work stations with new, sleek mirrors, sinks, and chairs; gave each room an individual paint color and feel; converted the reception area into a plush, gender-neutral environment (they have a large male clientele as well as serve children) with comfortable seating and surroundings; and even found new uses for bathtubs that remained from when it was someone’s house.

“In the bathrooms, my husband covered the bathtubs with plywood and created interesting planters to lighten up the rooms and make them feel more like home and provide some green space,” Ward says. “It’s been a great location for us. We really put both of our personalities in the paint colors, décor, and furnishings. It feels like home.

“We really wanted the interior to have a very comfortable, home-like feel to it, which is one of the biggest reasons we chose this house rather than renting space in a strip mall. Everything we did here, we did ourselves. We wanted this to be an extension of our homes.”

Both women say owning their own business has been simultaneously rewarding and terrifying.

Despite the uncertainty of being responsible for the livelihoods of themselves as well as three other stylists and a front desk manager, they remain committed to their dream and are excited to enjoy the continued growth of their business past this first year.

“Our first goal is to always do the right thing by and for other people, including ourselves,” says Stukenholtz, adding that they are planning some sort of celebration July 31 to commemorate their first year of operation.

“When you have people depending upon your business decisions so they have paychecks to support themselves and their families, it makes you evaluate everything very carefully,” she says. “But we are so excited to be running our own business. It’s something Lacey and I talked about for years, and now we’re living it. It’s a dream come true.”

Visit thegreysalon.house for more information.

From left: Lacey Ward and Carmen Stukenholtz

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

Editor’s note: Ms. Stukenholtz’ name was originally misspelled as Stuckenholtz.

Destinations

February 22, 2017 by

AKSARBEN VILLAGE

Horse stalls went bye-bye long ago. Now, Aksarben Village is losing car stalls, too. But that’s a good thing, as far as continued growth of the former horse-racing grounds goes. Dirt is overturned and heavy equipment sits on the plot extending north and east from 67th and Frances streets, formerly a parking lot for visitors to the bustling area. That’s because work has commenced at the corner on what will become HDR’s new global headquarters, which opens some time in 2019. The temporary loss of parking will be offset by great gain for Aksarben Village — a 10-story home for nearly 1,200 employees with a first floor including 18,000 square feet of retail space. HDR also is building an adjacent parking garage with room for ground-level shops and restaurants. But wait, car owners, there’s more. Farther up 67th Street, near Pacific, the University of Nebraska-Omaha is building a garage that should be completed this fall. Plenty of parking for plenty to do.

BENSON

A continental shift has taken place in Benson — Espana is out and Au Courant Regional Kitchen is in, offering Benson denizens another food option at 6064 Maple St. That means a move from now-closed Espana’s Spanish fare to now-open Au Courant’s “approachable European-influenced dishes with a focus on regional ingredients.” Sound tasty? Give your tastebuds an eye-tease with the menu at aucourantrestaurant.com. Also new in B-Town: Parlour 1887 (parlour1887.com) has finished an expansion first announced in 2015 that has doubled the hair salon’s original footprint. That’s a big to-do at the place of  ’dos.

BLACKSTONE DISTRICT

The newest Blackstone District restaurant, which takes its name from Nebraska’s state bird, is ready to fly. Stirnella Bar & Kitchen, located at 3814 Farnam St., was preparing to be open by Valentine’s Day. By mid-January it had debuted staff uniforms, photos of its decor, and a preview of its delectable-looking dinner menu. Stirnella (Nebraska’s meadowlark is part of the genus and species “Sturnella neglecta”) will offer a hybrid of bistro and gastro pub fare “that serves refined comfort food with global influences,” plus a seasonal menu inspired by local ingredients. Fly to stirnella.com for more.

DUNDEE

Film Streams (filmstreams.org) made a splash in January announcing details on its renovation of the  historic Dundee Theater. Work began in 2017’s first month on features including:

Repair and renovation of the original theater auditorium, which will be equipped with the latest projection and sound technology able to screen films in a variety of formats, including reel-to-reel 35mm and DCP presentations.

A throwback vertical “Dundee” sign facing Dodge Street.

An entryway that opens to a landscaped patio/pocket park.

New ticketing and concessions counters.

A store with film books, Blu-ray Discs and other cinema-related offerings.

A café run through a yet-to-be-announced partnership.

A 25-seat micro-cinema.

Oh, yeah, they’ll show movies there, too. And Dundee-ers won’t have long to wait—the project should be completed by the end of 2017.

MIDTOWN

In a surprise to many—especially those holding its apparently now-defunct gift cards—Brix shut its doors in January at both its Midtown Crossing and Village Pointe locations. It was not clear at press time what factor, if any, was played by a former Brix employee, who in late December pleaded not guilty to two counts of felony theft by deception after being accused of stealing more than $110,000 as part of a gift card scheme. Despite the closing, Midtown has celebrated two additions of late as the doors opened to the “Japanese Americana street food” spot Ugly Duck (3201 Farnam St.) and to Persian rug “pop-up shop” The Importer.

NORTH OMAHA

The restoration of North Omaha’s 24th and Lake area continues its spectacular trajectory. In January, the Union for Contemporary Art moved into the completely renovated, historic Blue Lion building located at 2423 N. 24th St. The Blue Lion building is a cornerstone in the historic district. Originally constructed in 1913, the Blue Lion is named after two of the building’s earliest tenants: McGill’s Blue Room, a nightclub that attracted many nationally known black musicians, and Lion Products, a farm machinery distributor. The entire district was listed as a federally recognized historic district in April 2016.

According to its website, “The Union for Contemporary Art is committed to strengthening the creative culture of the greater Omaha area by providing direct support to local artists and increasing the visibility of contemporary art forms in the community.” Founder and executive director Brigitte McQueen Shew says the Union strives to unite artists and the community to inspire positive social change in North Omaha. “The organization was founded on the belief that the arts can be a vehicle for social justice and greater civic engagement,” she says. “We strive to utilize the arts as a bridge to connect our diverse community in innovative and meaningful ways.”

The Union will be hosting the annual Omaha Zinefest March 11. Event organizer Andrea Kszystyniak says Zinefest is a celebration of independent publishing in Nebraska. Assorted zines—essentially DIY magazines produced by hand and/or photocopier—will be on display at the free event, and workshops will be offered to attendees.

OLD MARKET

M’s Pub fans had plenty to be thankful for in November following the announcement that the Old Market restaurant would rise from the ashes of the January 2016 fire that destroyed the iconic eatery. Various media quoted co-owner Ann Mellen saying the restaurant would reopen this summer. Construction has been steady at the restaurant’s 11th and Howard, four-story building, but customers weren’t sure M’s would be part of the rebirth until Mellen’s well-received comments. Mellen says the feel—and the food—will be the same. Even if the name may change.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Encounter.

How to Make a Coffee Filter Lamp

February 21, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Light is to what punctuation is at the end of a sentence.

If I had my way, there would never be any traditional lighting—especially fluorescent lights, as they are often too cool and tend to distort (in my opinion, making everything look worse).

So, when deciding upon lighting options for the room that I am remodeling, I opted for a softer look to establish a welcoming mood.

This soft accent light will not be the primary light source in the room; rather, it will be more of a glowing art installation hanging in the room.

There will be plenty of natural light coming through the large window as well as several other lamps in the room.

I truly feel that without choosing the correct lighting in the beginning, the whole room won’t have that wow factor in the end.

My inspiration was something I saw on the internet several years ago. At the time, I didn’t have the space to make it work. But I do now!

The final renovation of the room will be unveiled in the grand reveal to be published in the January/February issue of Omaha Home.

Remember, you do not have to compromise beauty and function for cost. Do some research and find what fits your space and style. Try out your own DIY project. That’s what this year-long project is all about.

ITEMS NEEDED:

  • Paper lantern (I used a lantern 16 inches in diameter.)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Large package of glue sticks
  • Basket-type coffee filters (I used 800.)
  • Patience (The project can take approximately 6-7 hours.)
  • LED light with remote or single-socket pendant light. Both are extremely inexpensive. There are many options. To be safe, please do your research. You don’t want to create a fireball!

DIRECTIONS:

Step-1: Fold or crinkle each coffee filter at the bottom.

Step-2: Glue each filter directly to your paper lantern.

Step-3: Place as many filters as close together as possible.

Step-4: Cover the entire surface of the paper lantern.

Word to the wise: If you want to take this project on, I suggest watching online tutorial videos for added guidance. Simply searching for “coffee filter lamp”  tutorials online proved to be extremely helpful for me. The project is simple, but it can be very time-consuming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Omaha Home.

 

Emily Andersen & Geoff DeOld

October 13, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Emily Andersen and Geoff DeOld’s two-story storefront/residence on Vinton Street is an ongoing study in public and private space.

The husband and wife duo of DeOld Andersen Architecture began their courtship in Nebraska while studying architecture at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. They completed their postgraduate degrees in 2001 and moved to New York City that same year—a week before September 11.

deolds4While living in New York, they each worked at architecture firms, and in 2010, they began developing their own architectural practice. Their theoretical interests focused on ideas of suburbia, big box stores as civic centers, and the concept of “Walmart as a city.” New York City, while full of inspiration, was not an ideal location to study these topics.

“New York is a highly constructed place, a place where every block has been theorized and studied,” says DeOld.

In 2012, Andersen and DeOld began working with Emerging Terrain and its founder, Anne Trumble, on projects in Omaha. Seeing the progressive and critical dialogues fostered by Emerging Terrain made the idea of leaving New York an easier decision. For them, rogue conversations about urban relations could take place in Omaha. Additionally, Omaha provided a lower cost of living, making it possible to own a domestic space with a private outdoor area complete with a dog.

After deciding to relocate to Omaha in 2012, Andersen and DeOld began sharing a rented office space with Emerging Terrain on Vinton Street. One day, Trumble took her design fellows on a research trip, and the couple was able to be alone in the space in its totality. They thought, “This could be a great apartment!”

As it happened, their intuition became reality. The architects now fully occupy both floors of the storefront, their live-work architecture studio and private apartment with an exterior courtyard at 1717 Vinton St.

Willa, their spunky dog, acts as a doorbell, announcing visitors and clients. She is usually perched at the large bay windows on Vinton Street, sitting in the crisp northwest light. This same light blankets a curated selection of furniture and cascades upward to the original tin ceiling tiles. Andersen acknowledges, “The best thing (about the storefront) is the light.”

deolds5Immediately inside the voluminous white studio, large flat tables are stacked with the latest architecture periodicals and design paraphernalia. A well-stocked bookcase of architecture monographs separates this front entry space from the open office behind. Each workstation, for the couple and their intern architects, is decorated with an iMac, a tornado of tracing paper, physical architectural models, and their subsequent renderings and construction documents. The fervor of design-in-the-making is palpable. At the rear, more windows fill the functional office with warm southern light and views into an in-process patioscape.

There is an aspect of sustainability that they enjoy living above their office—the morning and evening commute is literally a flight of stairs. A cerulean stairwell ascends into their private apartment above the storefront’s 12-foot ceiling. The hike establishes mental and spatial distance between work and home. “Once we go upstairs for the evening, we usually do not go back down,” says DeOld.

Upon entering the 1,200-square-foot apartment, a sense of the couple’s studied aesthetic is at the forefront. Remnants of their lives punctuate the space. There’s a silver metallic curtain in an ultra-simplistic kitchen and an almost haphazard collection of modernist furniture. Space-defining arches give the apartment “a weird personality we would have never added,” says Andersen.

deolds2Populating the airy apartment is a long blonde wood table adjacent to a glossy white fireplace, which splits the kitchen from the living room. A set of graphic prints pulls the eye into the living room, where a complementary mustard-colored chair and merlot-colored sofa face a wraparound bookshelf. It is also from the living room that the angular nature of Vinton Street is most apparent. Two windows bounce northwestern light onto the wooden floors. As with the studio below, Andersen explains, “Watching the light daily and yearly is one of the joys of the apartment.”

Renovations have been ongoing throughout the entire structure, with Andersen and DeOld first focusing on the envelope of the building, then the workspace below, and now concentrating on the apartment and exterior courtyard.

At first, much of the apartment did not work. But after rapid construction and precise wall removal, the once-segmented apartment has been opened into one clean volume for public entertaining areas and compact private spaces.

“We can’t live in a typical house,” say Andersen and DeOld. Their nearly complete live-work space mixes ephemerality with distinct design features, a continuing investigation into their notions of hybrid domestic-work tranquility.

Visit d-aarch.com for more information. OmahaHome

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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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Gene Leahy Mall Renovation

June 23, 2014 by

When the nearly 10-acre Central Park Mall was dedicated in 1977 (it was officially named the Gene Leahy Mall in 1992), it was considered a jewel of downtown Omaha.

“At that time there was nothing like it,” says Brook Bench, director of City of Omaha Parks, Recreation and Public Property. People marveled at the green space and manmade lagoon stretching from 10th to 15th Streets between Farnam and Douglas, surrounded by tall buildings and placed right in the midst of the downtown hustle and bustle.

“We have pictures of what it looked like—but it did not look like that lately,” Bench says. It’s a credit to the original planners that the mall held up for nearly four decades, he explains, but over the years, design flaws have become evident.

“The biggest challenge for the mall is that 85 percent of the ground down there is sloped. It’s a very large park, but it’s not very useable. And it’s an absolute nightmare to keep that place clean, because everything blows in and nothing goes out,” Bench says.

The sloped design that leaves the lagoon and most of the park below street level had also contributed to deterioration of the shoreline, plus walking paths presented trip hazards and multiple blind corners. And aging and weathering created inevitable deterioration of fixtures and features. But it was water quality that served as the impetus for renovation, Bench says.

“It was so silted in that the depth of the water was only this deep in places,” Bench says, spanning his hands to indicate less than a foot. The lagoon drains to the river, but has no natural inflow, he adds, and the buildup of silt was exacerbated by sustained drought two summers ago. Compounding the problem further, the integrity of the lagoon’s bed had long been compromised and the lagoon needed to be regularly fed by city water.

The much-needed, nearly $1.8 million renovation was finally kick-started by a $600,000 water quality grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Nebraska and augmented by Parks department capital improvement program (CIP) money.

“We have all our planners and our managers and we try to prioritize what needs to be done next,” Bench says of the CIP budget. “And most of the time it is a need—we need to do this, we need to fix this.”

Bench’s philosophy of preservation and maintenance before all else makes sense considering that the CIP budget must encompass the city’s hundreds of properties—community centers, pools and water playgrounds, golf courses, parks and playgrounds, athletic fields, tennis courts, recreational trails, dog parks, skate parks, marinas and more.

“We probably wouldn’t have done it without getting that grant because it was such a huge amount,” Bench says of the Gene Leahy Mall project. Other enhancements such as an expanded playground, public restrooms and a covered entertainment space may come later through private funding, he adds, but he sums up the most urgent priorities as “deeper, cleaner, safer.”

Work started in March 2013. A temporary road had to be built so vehicles and equipment could access the lagoon for pumping, dredging and shoreline stabilization.

“Now we have a bentonite liner, which is a clay liner, so we’re hoping to capture water and not have to keep pumping city water into it.” Bench says.

Crews also built a new trail around the lagoon and installed new lighting, he adds. The restoration was completed this spring, and visitors are immediately noticing the improvements.

“It’s more airy and so it’s not like you’re down in the mall. There’s more visibility,” Bench says. “It’s about just having a nice place where people can walk through.”

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