Tag Archives: Sandy Matson

OmahaHome Entryway

January 4, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“New Year—a new chapter,
new verse, or just the same old story?
Ultimately we write it. The choice is ours!”
—Alex Morritt

It’s time to take the Christmas lights down and put the house back in order. Time to freshen things up and plan for jobs to tackle. It’s 2019—and timing is everything.

Another year is upon us and as I sit here writing this letter, I’m flabbergasted to be saying “Happy New Year!” so soon.

Once again, it’s all about making life simpler and less stressful. After doing some DIY research, I found clever ways to do so.

This issue covers the old and the new. The Powells’ fireplace featured in Spaces not only complements their custom home at 90th and Farnam streets, but adds new luxury for these cold months.

Patrick McGee’s article in Landscape” will challenge your thoughts on winter tree-trimming and help you take better care of your trees when pruning.

“At Home” may be just what the doctor ordered for those wintery blues. Scatter Joy Acres shows you how volunteering does many good things for mind and body.

It may be hard to leave the comfort of your own home, but get out and into the community to enjoy the season.

From OmahaHome to your home, have a happy and fabulous new year!


 This article was printed in the January/February 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Happy January Home Hacks

December 28, 2018 by

Start the year fresh with these quick, helpful cleaning hacks.

Hacks in general exploded in popularity when websites such as BuzzFeed and Pinterest started pitching them at us. This made finding housekeeping hacks incredibly easy, even for us not-so-savvy web users.

The following hacks can reduce the number of cleaning products in your home by using products you already have.

Lemons:

These citrus fruits are one of the most useful and beneficial items to keep around. The acid in lemons is antibacterial and antiseptic, as well as a natural bleach.

Uses:

De-stink your garbage disposal with lemon rinds. Run a few through and follow with cold water to dispel odors.

Clean your microwave with one lemon. You will need a microwave-safe bowl. Fill with four cups of water. Cut your lemon in half. Microwave on high for three minutes and let it set for another five minutes. Remove bowl and turntable. Wipe surface with clean towel.

Remove stubborn water stains from chrome kitchen and bathroom fixtures (it even works on copper). Cut a lemon in half and scrub the surface with the halves. This will also remove any rust stains left from bobby pins or razor blades.

Vinegar:

Though not registered as a disinfectant with the EPA, this powerful liquid will kill both salmonella and E. coli, two bacteria you definitely want to avoid.

Uses:

Unclog your drain. Pour half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar down the drain. Let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse with hot water.

Remove mineral spots from a showerhead. Fill a plastic bag halfway with vinegar and tie around the showerhead. Let the bag sit overnight and rinse in the morning.

Shutter and blinds need cleaning? Get out a soft sock and slip it onto your hand. Make an even mixture of water and vinegar. Spray this onto the sock and get into every nook and cranny that collects dust. We all have a mismatched sock or two we can use for this.

Baking soda:

This does more than fight refrigerator odors. It’s non-toxic and, unlike vinegar, does not have a strong smell. Because of its abrasiveness, it can fight tough stains as well.

Uses:

Remove tough burned-on food from pots and pans. Sprinkle on burned areas and add just enough hot water to cover. Let it sit overnight, and scrub it off in the morning.

Polish silver flatware. Make a paste with 3-parts baking soda and 1-part water. Rub onto silver with clean cloth and rinse.

Deodorize rugs and upholstered furniture. Sprinkle on the rug and furniture, let sit for 15 minutes, and vacuum.

Below are a few quirky tips that I had not heard of and will try soon.

Aspirin:

Got fresh flowers without a green thumb? Keep them around longer by placing crushed aspirin into the water. The salicylic acid in the aspirin will help keep the water clean and free of the flower-damaging bacteria.

Soap:

Want a clever way to keep your fingernails clean when doing a dirty job? Pack soap under them by rubbing them across a bar a few times. When the dirty work is done, simply scrub it out with a nail brush.

Rubber gloves:

While we love our furry, four-legged family members, we could all do without the fur they leave behind. Pick up some rubber gloves at the dollar store and sweep the worst areas with the glove. Hair will ball and pick up easy.

Plywood and bricks:

Lastly, living in Nebraska, protecting your air conditioner is important. Cover it with plywood weighted down with bricks to protect the compressor in the winter. This also encourages rodents to move on. And if you want to protect the metal and keep it looking good, coat it with car wax before the snow flies.

At the end of the day, a hack should offer a clever and unique way to repurpose an object or solve a problem. It should also be realistic—for those of us lacking an engineering degree or carpentry apprenticeship—to implement. And most importantly, it should help your home look great without requiring a lot of extra work. So go forth and spruce!


This article was printed in the January/February 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

baking soda vinegar and lemon on the white background

Setting the Table

October 24, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Let’s face it, there isn’t much enthusiasm for Grandma’s china these days. Fine chinaware is a forgotten treasure for many families.

Too many Generation Xers and baby boomers are content to treat their kitchen islands like buffet troughs (or they just eat out). Hardly anyone wants to whip out the fancy stuff these days. 

I’m guilty, too. I have neglected my grandmother’s rose-patterned china for 15 years. But with my children grown, I’m discovering an appreciation for old heirlooms and how they can be incorporated in fresh ways to enliven my own home.

And what better occasion to try than the holidays? In this DIY article, I demonstrate a proper holiday table setting while incorporating the china that I have inherited from the family.

But who says chinaware is only for the fanciest of occasions? For this issue’s DIY, I present a less formalistic table setting for four people.

First impressions begin with the table setting (also known as “place setting” or “laying the table”).

Making certain the eating utensils are located in just the right spot can be tricky. The precise arrangement of tableware has varied across cultures and historical periods.

As I did my research, I found that there is a whole sector devoted to churning out new ideas for table setting.

The Western craze for dressing the table seems to have taken hold in the late-18th century, when European aristocracy turned table setting into a form of artistic expression. 

As dinner party fashions trickled down to the middle class—especially in the 19th century—women began to use the table setting as a way to express their own creativity and personal taste.

Follow along to serve a dinner consisting of salad, bread, beverage, and the main course.

Have fun and don’t forget: No matter how beautiful or antique the china, a dinner party should be more about the people gathered around the table than the table setting.

Instructions

1. Dust Off the China

I was fortunate to have cherished family dishware passed down, but you can find affordable china easily. Just check garage sales, estate sales, auctions, or local thrift stores. Don’t be afraid to mix and match.

2. Plates

Place dinner plates approximately 2 inches from the table’s edge. Center them squarely in front of each chair. I also chose to incorporate gold chargers to bring out the gold in this beautiful china (also called service plates, chargers go under your dinner plates). 

 3. Bowls, Salad Plates, & Bread Plates

Soup bowls typically sit atop the dinner plate; salad plates go above the forks (on the left side of the dinner plate); and bread plates belong slightly above the salad plate, closer to the dessert fork/spoon. I modified the typical arrangement, placing the salad plate on the main dinner plate and altogether skipping the soup bowl. 

4. Utensils 

Flatware should be laid out in the order that the guest will use it. Work your way from the outside in. Forks belong on the left of the dinner plate; table knives and spoons go to the right. Knife edges should always face the dinner plate. Butter knives should be laid flat on the bread plate with the cutting edge, again, facing in the direction of the dinner plate. Dessert forks/spoons can be placed horizontally at the top of the dinner plate.

5. Drinks

Place water glasses above the dinner knife. Optional red and white wine glasses or champagne flutes should be staggered around the water glasses.

6. Napkins

There are options here. Napkins go to the left side of the plate, inside the drinking glass, or folded in the center of the plate.

7. Assigned Seating

(Optional) Write guest names on place cards. They work best placed above the dessert utensil, centered with the plate.

8. Table Decorations

Do not forget to dress the table with flowers and lots of candles. The ambiance makes a difference. At the end of the day, however, dining is about getting people together. And there is nothing cozier than entertaining at home.


This article was printed in the November/December 2018 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

OmahaHome Entryway

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
—J.R.R. Tolkien

With the holiday season approaching, my thoughts turn to family traditions—both old and new. 

Sometimes dusting off family heirlooms can bring a fresh take to the dinner table. 

With my children grown and on their own, I decided it was time to dust off my grandmother’s china. 

The fine dishware had remained neatly stacked in an old chest for 15 years. But it was still in the same immaculate condition. 

Readers who have followed my DIY projects may have gathered that I am all about repurposing and/or pairing the old with new. The trend continues this issue, too.

For the holidays, why not start a new-old family tradition by pairing a beautiful family heirloom with a proper holiday table setting?

Mixing the old with the new can yield remarkable results. Whether the heirloom is antique chinaware or something more modern, anyone can do this.

Regardless of how your family sets the table, one thing is certain, it’s not which side of the plate the fork goes on that matters most. The important thing is the togetherness with friends, family, and relationships nurtured by a meal prepared with love.

From all of us at OmahaHome, happy holidays to you and yours!

This article was printed in the November/December 2018 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

OmahaHome Entryway

August 20, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

For me, fall is the embodiment of comfort. I love the warm and cozy feeling of autumn snuggled in between the harsh Midwestern summer and winter. 

The first sign of dropping temperature starts to turn my mood. But—like all lifelong Midwesterners—I know how fleeting fall can be. Some years you blink and it’s gone, almost like we skipped the season altogether.

How lucky are we in Omaha to have the astonishing beauty of the leaves changing in every color under the sun, not to mention the football, tailgating, bonfires, and—of course—food!

Fall also brings its own unique home-decorating opportunities. For an example, take a peek at Tim Dymek’s cozy home in this issue. His quaint and perfectly manicured residence captures the pure essence of this season. Seeing photos of his patio just makes me want to grab a fuzzy throw and a good book, and make myself at home.

Whether you have a historical mansion, a downtown apartment, or a custom-glass house (we cover them in this issue, too), the beauty of fall has something for everyone—just like every issue of OmahaHome. So, grab a cozy throw and cuddle up by your fire pit and enjoy.

And, as always, thank you for reading! If you have any comments or story ideas, please contact me at sandy@omahapublications.com.

P.S. On a personal note, Sept. 6 is my father’s 80th birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad! Growing up on a farm in Iowa was a gift that taught me to be humble, hard-working, and resourceful. Thank you! 


This letter was printed in the September/October 2018 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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 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.

 

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

Omaha Home Entryway

December 28, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Happy New Year!

I finally made it to the finish line on my yearlong makeover, which began in our January 2017 edition. It’s a special treat to feature the results in this first independent issue of Omaha Home.

Previously, Omaha Home appeared as a section inside the full subscriber-edition of Omaha Magazine, with an overrun edition of Omaha Home printed as a standalone magazine available at select distribution points around town. Now, the magazines are being printed altogether separately.

Subscribers to Omaha Magazine will still receive Omaha Home, and the magazine’s digital presence is still available through omahamagazine.com. The only thing that has changed is that the two magazines will be polybagged together rather than perfect-bound as a single publication.

For those who have been following my room makeover series, you might have noticed the black dress that appeared in each photo shoot. The backstory is simple. I found this vintage dress eight years ago for a mere $10 while thrifting. It sat on my clothes rack all these years. I couldn’t bear to part with it, but I also couldn’t find the right occasion to wear it. All of my DIY photo shoots were outdoors leading up to this issue, and I thought the dress would make a nice unifying element to the series. Look for the dress again in the photos from my room’s grand reveal this issue.

I would like to thank all the wonderful people who allowed us to take photos on their property for this yearlong project. Finally, I could not end without a big thank-you to my “behind the scene guy,” my husband, Richard. He listened to all my ideas, helped me saw wood, load/unload the truck, prop up mirrors for photos, and dressed up and danced with me at an old farm for one photo shoot. (Your constant encouragement and support did not go unnoticed.)

We wish you a year of glorious change and success in 2018. Thanks for reading!

~Sandy

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

Sandy Matson is the contributing editor for Omaha Home.

Dress(er) for Success

September 24, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Some might consider it strange to use an antique buffet as a dresser, but this piece of furniture simply suited my needs: space to store all the smaller and delicate items in my bedroom—while also looking exquisite.

I’ve had this piece for a long time. Over the last several years, I felt it didn’t quite fit in any particular room; however, I couldn’t stand giving this gem away. The sad antique buffet migrated around the house before it eventually settled in a corner of a basement storage room.

In my house—if I hold onto a piece long enough—furniture will, sooner or later, take on a new purpose. And that is just what happened.

I have always wanted a dressing table and thought this would be a perfect addition to the yearlong makeover of my dressing room. It has perfect little drawers (originally used for silverware) convenient for makeup and brushes. Pretty baskets of my necessities take the place of fine china.

My dilemma was to conceptualize seating in front of this antique treasure. Where would my legs go? Luckily the two bottom cabinet doors open, so I would just have them open when in use.

As far as the color choice, I contemplated the options for almost a year before finally deciding on a soft gold. Since gold is the accent color of this otherwise white-on-white room, the color combo just screams elegance.

Every room needs that signature piece, and the dressing table is that signature for this room. Below are the items and steps that I used to complete this DIY project.

Items needed

  • 1 classic piece of furniture (or something you would like to breathe new life into)
  • Sandpaper in medium grit
  • 1 sponge roller (this is for the smooth finish)
  • 2-3 hand sponge applicators
  • 1 can of Zinsser Cover Stain Interior Latex Primer (available at Home Depot or Lowe’s)
  • 1 can of Modern Masters Metallic Paint in “pale gold” (purchased in Omaha at The Color Store Inc.)

Instructions

  1. Remove all hardware, including drawers and cabinet doors, from your furniture. Save it if you are using them later.
  2. Either sand until you remove the glossy finish, or you can use a primer/stain-blocker with a bonding agent (depending on the condition your piece is in).
  3. Once you have sanded, or put on several coats of the primer-bonding agent, use your hand sponge applicator to get in the hard-to-access areas and detailed spots. You can then use the foam roller to cover the entire piece. I painted the base of the piece before painting the drawers and doors.
  4. Now you are ready for the top coat. Use the same process as with the primer to coat the entire piece. I discovered it may have been easier to have my primer tinted closer to the gold color, but I did not do this, so I had to paint an extra coat.

Note:  If you are not quite comfortable going by these instructions, search YouTube for wooden furniture painting tutorials.


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

This article appears in the September/October 2017 edition of Omaha Home.