Tag Archives: unique

Mike and Lynne Purdy’s Electrochromic Dream Home

February 20, 2017 by
Photography by Colin Conces

It’s immediately clear that Lynne and Mike Purdy’s beautiful northwest Omaha home is something special. However, the longer you stay, the more you zero in on the many small-yet-mighty details that make it so.

“It’s those little details that make it just right,” Lynne says. “There’s a reason for everything we did design-wise, and there isn’t one thing we’d change.”

That includes everything from smart windows and touch faucets to 18-foot ceilings, a shades-of-grey palette, pocket doors, waterfall counters, hidden kitchen outlets, a programmable doorbell, a fireplace in the wall that serves two rooms, and bathroom drawers customized to the sizes of Lynne’s hair products, among other distinct aesthetic and utilitarian touches.

The Purdys, who met on a fortuitous blind date in 1977, are self-described “empty nesters” and transitioned to their home in Deer Creek Highlands in March 2016, after breaking ground one year prior. Mike, an architect and president of Purdy & Slack Architects, designed the home based upon he and Lynne’s extensive, collaborative exploration of what they wanted in their next home.

First, the couple knew they wanted to live on a golf course, so when they found a Deer Creek Highlands lot they were smitten with, they persevered in attaining it. The community is home to the third nine of the Arnold Palmer-designed Players Club at Deer Creek golf course.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better neighborhood or better neighbors,” says Lynne.

Mike’s design was informed by the logistics of the site.

“Lynne wanted an open plan with our master suite adjacent, so we had the floor plan in mind,” he says. “I wanted to keep the views of the golf course, plus the sun in the wintertime comes up on the axis of the large window and the great room.”

Mike refined his design until it was everything the Purdys wanted and he received approval from the neighborhood’s architectural review committee.

“The challenge was creating something unique and contemporary, but not so radical it wouldn’t blend with the neighborhood, and also something that facilitated the way we want to live,” Mike says.

Mike also designed the Purdys’ previous home, where they raised sons Bryan and Keith and lived for 28 years, but the couple says it was a family house, not an empty-nester house.

“It was a beautiful home, but our family grew, then left. Our current home is an adult house, but still with room for the kids to come visit,” Lynne says.

Indeed, the downstairs bedrooms, family room, and walk-out patio are designed to welcome Bryan, Keith, and their own expanding families, including Keith’s 4-year-old identical twin daughters, whom Lynne says “love coming to Gaga and Papa’s house.”

Mike embraced his creative side while designing the home.

“With architecture, you try to get a reaction from people,” he says. “It’s like a piece of art—meant to draw out emotion and create conversation. That’s what I tried to do with the house.”

“One of the design elements I wanted to do was to hide the front door so there’s a little bit of mystery as you approach the house the first time,” Mike says of the slightly obscured front door that bucks street-facing tradition. “It creates a different experience, and then you make the turn into this big space, so it’s kind of a surprise.”

The first thing visitors will notice upon entering—after the Purdys’ adorably petite white pup Holly—is the 16-foot-wide, 18-foot-high, attention-commanding window that overlooks the golf course from the rear of the house. What you wouldn’t immediately notice or know is that the window panes are SageGlass, an electrochromic glass that can be set to various levels of tint via an app. The window can be dimmed by row or pane, or even programmed to react to the level of sun or clouds.

“It’s a commercial-grade glass we’re putting in some of our office buildings. They don’t require blinds and save energy from heat gain,” Mike says. “In wintertime we keep ours mostly clear to maximize the heat gain. In summertime we keep it pretty dim so it doesn’t heat up the home as much.”

Mike estimates that within 20 years most new windows in homes will be this type of dynamic glass.

“It’s newer technology, but I expect it’ll become standard and you’ll find it in the houses of the future,” he says.

Whether through the giant window or from the glass-railed cantilever deck outside, the Purdy home’s crown jewel is the incredible, ever-changing view that’s shown Lynne and Mike sublime sunrises; pop-up “lakes” born of hard rains and golf course curves; wildlife like ducks, hawks, and frogs; and confused golfers seeking errant balls.

“We’ve enjoyed every season here,” says Lynne. “In the morning I have my coffee and look out the windows … it’s just beautiful all the time, whether it’s a layer of snow or a sunny summer day. And relaxing on the deck after a stressful day is the best. In the summer we’re out there every night.”

Speaking of nighttime, Lynne says the home is prettiest after sunset when the flameless candles and decorative lit-glass spheres she’s placed throughout the house turn on. Just like everything else, that’s by design.

“You come home at night, and you want a relaxing space space. The soft light gives you that,” she says. “That’s also typically when you entertain, and I want everyone to feel relaxed and at home when they visit.”

Visit purdyandslack.com for more information about the homeowner’s architectural firm.

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

Colorado Modern

January 22, 2017 by
Photography by Tom Kessler, Kessler Photography

How do two people, each with an appreciation for very different tastes in design, come together to build their perfect dream home?

When our client came to us, the husband leaned more towards a contemporary, midcentury modern look, while the wife loved a Colorado-inspired design. We knew the challenge of marrying these two concepts would be great. But the final product would be even greater.

Lisa Cooper, Allied ASID, and Kris Patton, ASID, feel there is no higher compliment than to obtain new clients by referral from a previous client’s friends and family. This new home construction project was no exception. In order to realize the clients’ multipart vision, we teamed with Marshall Wallman, vice president of design at Curt Hofer & Associates, and his team to create this dream home.

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Our clients enjoy the topography and ambience of Colorado and the architecture of that region. They also like things a bit more contemporary, so we tried to meld together a vintage Colorado midcentury modern look for their new home. While the home itself was meticulously planned to achieve this design, the lot the family selected was just as important. A space with abundant trees would set the perfect tone for a woodsy, private residence.

The home’s curb appeal sets the tone for the design elements that wait inside. The entrance—with its vast windows and incredible sightline from the workspace all the way to the dining room—makes a strong introductory statement.

Main and lower levels of the home feature similarly strong design conceptualization in the fireplaces. They aren’t located on exterior walls, as fireplaces typically are; rather, the hearths are positioned in the centers of the rooms (to be more architecturally integrated into the spaces). Carefully placed windows allow for ample natural light to pierce the space. Not having a fireplace in a traditional placement, flanked by windows, adds interest.

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Powder rooms on each level also provide an opportunity to get creative, and they incorporate high-end elements such as a stainless steel vessel sink, which perforates a quartzite countertop, and walls tiled in a 3D relief.

A color palette of natural tones with blackened steel blue, fern green, aged ore, slate gray, and metallic burnt merlot creates an ambience that possesses an elusive balance between vintage and modern appeal. We relied upon myriad materials to achieve the design our clients desired. Natural stone, used in both the exterior and interior of the home, gives a rugged, earthy feel. A mix of concrete, weathered and reclaimed woods, organic natural stone surfaces, and quartz work symbiotically. Wood ceiling details, a kitchen backsplash fashioned of fern gray subway tiles with a vintage pattern, and handcrafted wall coverings all add to the unique flavor of this home.

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Perhaps one of the most striking elements of the home’s design scheme is the incredible use of light fixtures as art pieces. In an effort to avoid a predictable sea of sameness, we used a multitude of finishes from bronze to antique brass, to polished nickel, creating an acquired look in which each piece can be outstanding.

People oftentimes look at lighting as functional, and they forget that light fixtures can be beautiful, artistic pieces in the home. For this project, we used sconces in the hall to transform industrial design into artful sophistication. The dining room fixture is a chandelier crafted of Cupertino wrought-iron branches, each supporting a delicate chain adorned with a single crystal bead. The entry pendants are made of distressed mercury glass, dressed in antique brass chainmail. And the nursery fixture is feminine and fresh, suggesting a vintage flower design with its glass petals and chrome detailing.

The challenge of melding our clients’ appreciation of contrasting aesthetics of design proved to be a thought-provoking opportunity to create a true standout of a project… and their enthusiasm encouraged our efforts. They seemed to truly enjoy the process, expressing energetic and positive feedback on every aspect of their new home construction. The end result was a dream home with a cohesive design and a unique look…and two very happy homeowners.

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This article was printed in the January/February 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Visit asid-neia.org for more information.

MEET THE DESIGNERS

Cooper

Lisa Cooper

The interior design industry is fast-moving, challenging, and multifaceted.  I love that I have the opportunity to be creative and technical, all in a day’s work. Our clients are amazing people, and the projects that I’ve had the chance to work on have been extraordinary.

Patton

Kris Patton

Design is my passion, and to have the opportunity to receive an education and the experience it takes to gain knowledge and expertise in this industry is such a privilege. I have amazing clients and have had the chance to work on incredible projects.  I wouldn’t trade this career for the world!

 

Ghost Host

July 17, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article appears in July/August 60-Plus.

Visitors from Omaha and the spirit realm are welcome at the Squirrel Cage Jail Museum in Council Bluffs.

Carla Borgaila says she has met several of the resident ghosts. She remembers her hat being pulled from her head as she frantically tried to hold it on. “I could feel the fingers on my head,” she remembers. “But no one was there.” Another time, “a guy came into my office and just stood there.”

Despite her personal experiences with ghosts, Borgaila is a realist. “Ninety percent is overactive imagination. Nine percent we can’t explain, but it’s not paranormal. But then there’s that one percent.”

Although a ghost has not spoken to her, she has heard her name called. But she never feels scared or threatened. “They’re like Casper the Friendly Ghost. There’s no reason to be fearful.”

Borgaila, museum coordinator for the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County, is responsible for arranging paranormal, as well as regular, tours of the quirky Squirrel Cage Jail. Built in 1885, the jail on a turntable is now a museum.

Adults who want to spend 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. asking questions of alleged ghosts can call for an appointment. But plan ahead. Overnight paranormal investigation groups are already booked two months out. The outing costs a minimum of $175, which covers the first seven people; additional people are $25 each.  Youths age 16 and 17 are not allowed without a guardian; only people age 21 and older can schedule an appointment.

Some of the people who died in the building may be lingering.  “One is an inmate who hung himself. I firmly believe he’s still there.  People describe him to a tee.”  Several ghostly jailers also hang around. “People see them.”

Groups spending the night at the Squirrel Cage Jail sometime pick up electronic voice phenomena. “You don’t hear it then, but it shows up in the background when later listening to the audio recording,’ says Borgaila.

Ghost hunting is not the only activity in the historical building. Regular tours are available for individual visitors and groups of 15 or more. Borgaila also has scheduled bridal showers and birthday parties.

Even if ghost-less, the building’s architecture is worth a visit. Originally, prisoners in pie-shaped cells got in and out when a hand crank turned to line the cell up with a single door on each of the three floors. Because the cage rotated and jailers could view all the cells from one place, fewer jailers were needed.

The jail was built to be escape-proof, but 60 inmates escaped over the years. Inmates also had to be careful to avoid getting an arm or leg crushed by the rotating jail.

The county jail was used from 1885 to 1969. Inmates still reside close by. “I run into them all the time,” she says. “It’s a badge of honor. They’re proud they were in one of the most unique buildings in the United States.”

One of three remaining Lazy Susan jails, it is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Council Bluffs jail is the largest of the 18 built.

Check It Out:

Squirrel Cage Jail

226 Pearl St. in Council Bluffs.

Open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  Closed Mondays,  major holidays, and
the month of January.

Tours are available year-round.
712-323-2509.

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Tonsorial Traditions

September 1, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The best place to start an experience at 18/8, a new men’s salon in Aksarben Village, is, perhaps, with the name itself, a reference to stainless steel—steel plus 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel.

“When it was transformed, stainless steel was better—it performed better, it looked better, it worked better,” says Omaha 18/8 owner Michael Wohlgemuth.

“That’s kind of the metaphor we use for 18/8. We want to transform the male to be better—to look better, to be better performing, to get better results in how they feel about themselves.”

It’s a metaphor for 18/8 itself, too, which, since its opening in May, is striving to transform the Omaha man’s professional grooming experience.

“We try to cater to men in a semi-private atmosphere where they get the opportunity to relax and enjoy the experience,” Wohlgemuth says. “Most barber shops and salons line up chairs or cubicles. We turn ours at angles and have walls between stations. In our salon, the highest number of people getting services at one time would be three, and they would be protected—they don’t have 10 or 12 other men staring at them.”

It’s a formula that’s proved popular in other locations. More than 20 18/8 salons have opened or are slated to open in California, Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, and Texas.

Scott Griffith and Ron Love started the franchise in California. Wohlgemuth and his wife, Debbie, decided to bring 18/8 to Omaha (likely soon in more than one location beyond the existing one at 1920 S. 67th St.) because they felt the salon’s approach was a new one for the city.

Men can book services—including haircuts, hair and beard coloring, shaves, facials, manicures, scalp treatments, and waxing—online or via phone. They can walk into the salon, too, though clients with reservations receive priority. In any case, every visitor is greeted first by a DOFI—a Director of First Impressions—who confirms services to be received and leads guests to the first semi-private area of the bright, modern salon: a couple of sleek arm chairs flanked by a mini fridge and mounted flat-screen TV. The DOFI makes a note of clients’ preferred beverages for future visits, Debbie Wohlgemuth says, then escorts men to the back, where they can remove and hang their shirts and put on a robe. A stylist or barber will put on an additional cape when clients get to a chair.

“We don’t want hair anywhere on a man when he leaves,” Michael Wohlgemuth adds. “When he leaves, he can go right out on a date or to a wedding or back to work without having to worry about going home first.”

The salon’s team of stylists and barbers (barbers are able to provide a clean shave with a straight blade) are trained to tailor hairstyles to men’s individual heads, Michael Wohlgemuth says. They won’t simply snap on a guard and cut the hair around it, for example. Every client gets a hot towel upon arrival and a shampoo and conditioning before and after hair services.

“We think the experience is kind of a lost art, and we’re trying to revitalize it,” Michael Wohlgemuth says. “We think we’ve just taken the experience up a notch.”

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Dumpster Dive Desk

March 21, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

If suddenly ours was a world without trees, 28-year-old Kyle Petersen would still thrive as a woodworker. Credit his keen instincts for finding lost treasure in other people’s junk. As a favor to a friend in need of a bigger desk, Petersen channeled his MacGyver-like creative energies to make her a completely unique piece. He collected scraps of wood, including discarded shipping pallets and bits of Douglas fir he pulled from the walls of his parents’ home. No worries, his parents were remodeling their kitchen.

He has an affinity for the hot trend of repurposing found items to fill a home. Using found and discarded materials, he has also built a headboard out of pallets, and cubbies out of a piece of plywood.  “It’s not so focused on perfection and how beautiful it is,” he says. “What’s beautiful behind it is the purpose of it.” Although he grew up tinkering in the shop with his carpenter father, Petersen dreamed of a career in audio recording after graduating from Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Neb. But now Petersen is blossoming as a cabinetmaker with a yen for recycling refuse. He works by day at Eurowood Cabinets and finds himself making furniture for friends and family in his spare time. “It’s taking my desire to create and combining it with the knowledge I have in this area and growing it from there,” he says.

First, he collected different species of hardwood material for the desktop. ”They’re not ideal pieces. It is waste essentially,” Petersen says.  He squared and planed each piece, and then assembled the desktop in a butcher-block fashion with clamps and wood glue. He then sanded it down before finishing with an espresso brown stain and a few coats of lacquer. “It’s cool using a bunch of different pieces of wood,” he says. “It will take the stain differently which is kind of a neat effect.”

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For the drawers, he disassembled a pallet, squared and planed the boards to make the front, back, and side panels. He then stained the drawers with the same espresso shade and lacquer.

For the drawer box frame, he used a sheet of maple plywood he bought for $50. He cut a rectangle out of the center of the two sides of the wood to make the box “see through” and mitered the whole box together. For the drawer rails, he used oak. Then he sanded and finished everything.

Finally, he tapered the legs with a band saw. The drawer box and legs both come off the desktop, making it easy to disassemble for transport. The legs are fastened with bolts counter-sunk into the desktop. Total time? About 30 hours. The hardest part? Staying patient.

“I learned when to walk away from it for the day,” he says. He says anyone can do it, especially with found materials. All they need to do is try. “There’s a lot of wood out there. Build something.”

Smart Design Stands the Test of Time

March 15, 2014 by
Photography by Amoura Productions

While attending the High Point International Furniture Market with Shawn Falcone of Falcone Homes this past spring, it was inspiring to find bold, saturated, color in nearly every showroom.

Also timely and fitting that, just as Shawn and I set out to develop the design plan for our 2013 Street of Dreams home (built by Falcone Homes), the home sold to a family who was excited about the idea of incorporating a strong color story into their décor.  >

Our goal became to give this show home a unique and colorful personality.

“We specified top-of-the-line finishes, pro appliances, custom cabinetry, custom furnishings and window treatments, original artwork, fresh paint colors, noteworthy light fixtures, and leaded glass double-entry doors,” says Falcone. “The moment you step into this home you begin to appreciate its character, quality, and charm.”

We took a thoughtful approach to design, one that embraces “on trend” in smart measure so that this work will stand the test of time. Those items which are easy and affordable to replace—think throw pillows, paint, and accessories—are the best areas in which to embrace trends.

And where you should consider a splurge?

Original fine art never goes out of style. Area rugs can be passed on for generations when you buy heirloom-quality pieces. Approach tile as an opportunity to set your home apart from your neighbors. Think of lighting as the icing on the cake.

Investing in fine furniture and custom window treatments will add polish and staying power to your décor. Consider furnishing your home as you would in assembling a wardrobe. Not every item hanging in your closet can be trendy and colorful, and not every item can be timeless and neutral. Some items you find may stretch the budget while others are more easily affordable. The key is to strike a balance by mixing and matching low- and high-end items according to your style and budget.

Good design is not about how much our clients are able to spend. It is about creating spaces that they want to spend time in.

The most important thing about the interior design of your home would be for it to become an extension of who you are, what you value, your interests, and your lifestyle. In a word, it must be you.

WD-40 Household Uses

June 20, 2013 by

You may have seen an article floating around on the internet claiming 40+ unique uses for the water-displacing spray WD-40. Well, Snopes.com—a website dedicated to debunking urban legends, myths, rumors, and misinformation—decided to follow up on this article and see if the presented tips were true.

“The WD-40 brand of spray lubricant is one of those ubiquitous products that is both found in a large percentage of households and put to a wide variety of uses (not all of them recommended by the manufacturer),” Snopes’ website says.

Snopes was able to contact the manufacturer of WD-40 to learn if these 40+ uses were legitimate. Interestingly enough, the response Snopes received back from the manufacturer included a shorter, corrected list. Still, a surprising number of tips were left on this new list.

Here are the manufacturer-confirmed uses for WD-40 beyond degreasing and water displacing:

  • Protects silver from tarnishing
  • Removes road tar and grime from cars
  • Loosens stubborn zippers
  • Untangles jewelry chains
  • Keeps ceramic/terra cotta garden pots from oxidizing
  • Keeps scissors working smoothly
  • Lubricates noisy door hinges on vehicles and in homes
  • Lubricates gear shift and mower deck lever for ease of handling on riding mowers
  • Rids rocking chairs and swings of squeaky noises
  • Lubricates tracks in home windows and makes them easier to open
  • Makes umbrellas easier to open and close after spraying the stem
  • Restores and cleans roof racks on vehicles
  • Lubricates and stops squeaks in electric fans
  • Lubricates wheel sprockets on tricycles, wagons, and bicycles for easy handling
  • Keeps rust from forming on saws, saw blades, and other tools
  • Lubricates prosthetic limbs
  • Keeps pigeons off of balconies (they apparently hate the smell)
  • Removes all traces of duct tape
  • Cleans and removes bugs from grills and bumpers
  • Displaces the moisture and allows a car to start after spraying the distributor cap
  • Removes black scuff marks from the kitchen floor without harming the floor’s finish
  • Removes bug guts from the finish on cars

Q&A: Dan Cullinane

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Midwest Iron Doors’ designer Dan Cullinane designs unique metal artworks for building exteriors and interiors. His creations grace the doorways of some of Omaha’s finest residences. We asked Cullinane about the design process, where he gets his inspiration, and how the company is poised for growth.

Q: Tell us a bit about your personal background. How did you come to work for Midwest Iron Doors?

A: I grew up in Papillion and went to school there as well. I’ve always had an interest in art, and I enjoyed drawing a lot as a child. My family’s business was in construction, so I grew up enjoying building and creating things. I still do. For years, I worked for the owner, Ryan [Steele], on and off between my deployments in the Army and while I worked for OPPD. Then, Ryan offered me a full-time job, and I left my position to help him grow Midwest Iron Doors. Ryan is definitely my mentor. He is successful at everything he does and is very dedicated to all aspects of his companies. He’s not afraid to take risks.Hofer-Sanctuary-1_Web

Q: Tell us a bit about your product and the company. What makes Midwest Iron Doors unique?

A: We are the only iron door company in the U.S. that offers a true thermally-broken door. These doors provide thermal insulation while maintaining maximum structural strength. This is our own patent-pending design. The thermal break design is the brainchild of me, Ryan Steele, and Lane Hinton. We started the design with a simple drawing on a dry erase board two years ago and after working long hours to create prototypes and deal with redesigns, we came to where we are today. Our doors range from around $3,000 to whatever the customer wants. We’re in the middle of transitioning to a supplier and setting up dealers across the U.S. We currently have five dealers in Iowa, three dealers in Nebraska, and one dealer in Kansas.

Q: What is the process for creating one of your original works?

A: Our doors start out as an openingdrawn into a blueprint. We take that opening and the vision of the homeowner and create something that is not only a door but an expression of who they are. The most creative part is taking what a customer has in their mind and turning it into a design on paper. The most challenging is definitely the construction aspect of the doors and ensuring that the customer gets the highest quality.Scott-Carson-Door_Web

Q: Besides ideas from customers, what inspires your designs? Tell us about one of your
favorite projects.

A: There are many things that inspire our door designs. We take into account shapes from nature, the architecture in surrounding buildings, and pieces of art that may have a special meaning to someone. One of my favorite projects was last year’s Street of Dreams home for Absolute Customs. The home’s interior designer, Sallie Elliott, went with a vintage Omaha decorating theme. We were asked to contribute, and I drew inspiration from the Joslyn Castle when creating a front door for the home.

Q: Who makes up Midwest Iron Doors’ clientele? How do you market your products?

A: Our customers are generally mid- to high-end homeowners who want to add a detail to their home that sets them apart. Our doors are used for home entries, wine cellars, and even commercial and apartment buildings. We recently supplied doors for a historic dorm remodel at Kansas University. We market our product by putting ads in numerous direct mail publications. We also do four home shows a year, and we supply doors to builders who are in the Street of Dreams. We had four doors in last year’s Street of Dreams and already have two doors in progress for this year’s Street of Dreams and are hoping to add to that number.Deats-2-Copy_Web

Q: Tell us a bit about you personally.

A: My wife, Jessica, and I have been married for over five years now. I have one boy, 18 months, and a newborn son born in April. I enjoy spending time with my family, whether that means walking the trails by our home or catching a bite to eat somewhere in town.

Express Your Creative Self

Photography by Jim Scholz

This is my third of a series of advice articles for women 60+ who want to style themselves fashionably and age-appropriately. In my first article, I gave women guidelines and a must-have list of fashions and separates that work in any wardrobe and could be personalized with accessories. In the second article, I talked about the fact that there are no rules in fashion, just relationships…meaning you can make almost everything work if you know how to properly coordinate and accessorize.

Now, it’s time to address the women over 60 who are not comfortable dressing like their counterparts…the ones who have a want and need to express their unique selves through fashion. These are the women who don’t care what their friends are wearing because they dress for themselves. Women who have advanced style, which is also the title of a blog and recently released book by Ari Seth Cohen.

Advanced style has stunning photos of older women—some into their 90s—all dressed to express and entertain themselves. They don’t all look good because there’s a fine line between fabulous and foolish. In New York, many creatives of all ages dress on the wild side every day! They keep Bill Cunningham of The New York Times dashing from one corner and event to the next so that he can photograph them for his New York Times stories and videos. The harmony of exceptional clothes, attitude, and flair makes them interesting and attractive.

I love being creative with pieces I know are exceptional. If you have the flair, the right pieces, and the courage to dress as a work of art, do it! But it’s not easy to do it right. Most people spend years collecting before they have enough to work with. You don’t just go out shopping one day and find amazing, one-of-a kind designs in Omaha, or anywhere, and internet finds worth having can be costly and not guaranteed to fit. Another very important thing is that if the pieces you play with are not quality, you end up looking like a clown rather than a woman of advanced style.

It was fun styling me for my picture (above). The hat is one I bought in 1981. I designed and made the silk taffeta jacket in 1983. I had the gloves custom made in New York in 1985. The skirt is the bottom half of a dress I designed and made in 1997. Each piece individually looks proper in my everyday wardrobe. Together, they become artistic expression!

Think about the following quotes from the book. They’re all true.

“It always pays to invest in quality. It never goes out of style.”

“Style is about the right clothes, the right jewelry, the right know-how, and the right attitude.” “Fashion says ‘me too,’ style says ‘only me.’”

If this is what you’re about, go for it at any age!

I welcome your feedback and invite you to send questions to sixtyplus@omahapublications.com.

Mary Anne Vaccaro lives in Omaha. She designed and made couture clothing for an international clientele of professionals and socialites of all ages. She created ready-to-wear collections that were sold from her New York showroom, and she designed for the bridal industry. She designed for three Ak-Sar-Ben Coronation Balls and ran a fashion advertising business in five states for a number of years. Invisible Apron® is one of several products that she has designed and developed. She still designs for select clients and works as an image consultant, stylist, personal shopper, and speaker on the subjects of fashion, art, and style. For more information, visit maryannevaccaro.com or call 402-398-1234.

Here Comes the Bride

March 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Just as April marks the arrival of springtime, so, too, does it signal the beginning of wedding season—typically viewed as mid-April through mid-October—and the onset of “wedding fever” for many excited soon-to-be and wanna-be brides.

Regardless of whether your nuptials are a year away or far off in the distance, wedding season is a great time to attend Omaha bridal fairs and visit bridal boutiques, floral shops, and other wedding businesses in the metro and start making a list of all your must-haves for your special day. After all, creating your dream wedding takes time and planning—why not get started now?

To celebrate wedding season, we’re spotlighting three metro businesses that provide distinctive products and services for Omaha brides: gown boutique, Rhylan Lang; accessories vendor, Inez Gill; and floral service, Flowers for Special Occasions. All three are owned by local, young women who are not only on top of national trends, but in fact are leading the way in the Midwest with unique, high-end wedding fashions and accessories.

Rhylan Lang

The goal of upscale bridal boutique, Rhylan Lang, is simple—to make sure that each bride leaves with a dress that is as amazing as the memories created. “Every dress in the store is made from silk fabrics,” says owner Tracy Ponec, 29, of her unique collection. “If there is beading, it is Swarovski. If there is lace, it has intricate details. I want brides to be able to tell the difference in quality.”

Ponec, who has a joint degree in textiles and journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has been working in the wedding gown industry for nine years. “In college, I [did] bridal alterations,” she says. “I never thought I was going to make a career out of it.”

After graduating, she moved to Kansas City. “I had done a few internships that were more in-line with fashion-related public relations, but there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for that in the Midwest.” But with years of bridal alterations experience on her résumé, she took a shot and applied to the highest-end bridal salon in Kansas City, even though they weren’t hiring. Of course, she got hired. She even had the opportunity to do some professional training in New York with bridal design teams for Vera Wang and Reem Acra. “The owner [of the salon] and I made a great team. I learned so much from him. A few months in, he told me he thought I was born to do this.”20130227_bs_7349 copy

When Ponec returned to Nebraska, she saw the bridal market with new eyes. “Knowing how many of my brides in Kansas City were from Omaha, it was pretty obvious there was something missing for these brides in the Nebraska market.” She worked a bridal position for a short time but then decided it was time to bring her vision to life. A few years later with a business plan in hand, Ponec opened Rhylan Lang.

The name “Rhylan Lang” is actually a play on Ponec’s maiden name, Rhylander. “There is part of me in the name, but [the brand] isn’t about me. It’s about the brides,” she says. Because she cares about her brides, Ponec wanted her gown collection—which starts at a range of $1,600 to $6,000—to be exclusive in the state. From there, it was important to that the dresses were the highest quality fabrics and finishes available at each price point.

“During an appointment, a professional stylist will help select gowns from our inventory based on what a bride is looking for and their budget. The experience here is more intimate and far less chaotic than brides are used to. It’s a pleasant change for those that have been shopping a lot.”

For more information, visit rhylanlang.com or call 402-933-3510.

Inez Gill

Courtney Zurcher, 24, got the itch to start her own accessories business after making scarves for her family and friends. Today, she is the owner and designer at her accessories business, Inez Gill. Since starting Inez Gill, Zurcher’s accessories have been featured in Omaha’s Wedding Essentials and on Daily Candy, an e-mail newsletter and website devoted to what’s new and hot. She’s even designing accessories for the Daily Candy editor’s wedding.

“Inez Gill actually came from a combination of family names,” she explains of her business’ name. “My grandfather’s mom, Inez, was the kind of woman who just painted everything. She even painted the fridge once. She was very eccentric. Gill was my grandmother’s last name. She was a traditional mom and did needlework to make clothing.” Zurcher likes the combination of Inez and Gill because “one was artsy and one was practical,” which is how she’d like to approach her business.

When it comes to weddings, more brides are willing to pay for high-end products that are unique. That’s where Inez Gill accessories come in. “Accessories have a lot of life because you can put it on and it will change an outfit completely,” says Zurcher, who recently displayed her work at Omaha Fashion Week. Most of Zurcher’s bridal accessories are for the brides who want really fun, colorful looks. “I want [my pieces] to feel like accessories from a 1920s hat shop down the street—things that tailors and seamstresses would custom-make.”20130227_bs_7349 copy

While most designers and bridal vendors ship in their accessories, Zurcher creates and designs each piece. “Some designers draw sketches, but I just think of what I have, and then I put it together. I do have to put a lot more thought into how I design an accessory though because I take so many different pieces and put them together. I have my own system, and I don’t buy anything pre-made, unless it’s like a vintage leaf or something.”

With suppliers coming from everywhere (even some out of England), Zurcher has a lot of unique pieces to work with in creating each accessory. Natural stemming, vintage leaves, rhinestones—she finds all kinds of items from her suppliers and antique shops. “I don’t really follow a particular style,” she says of her mix-and-match work.

But just because Zurcher makes her accessories by hand doesn’t mean they look handmade. In fact, she prefers to spend more time making each accessory have a high-end look, even if it takes her more than the usual three to five hours. “I just like making things that make people feel good.”

For more information, visit inezgill.com.

Flowers for Special Occasions

“We have a strong passion for floral design,” says Jessica Pitt, 29, owner and designer at Flowers for Special Occasions. “We are always reinventing our work to stay fresh and in touch with the ever-changing fashion of the [wedding] industry.”

Although Pitt studied Fine Arts at College of Saint Mary and Behavioral Sciences at Bellevue University, she says that the floral business is in her blood. With four generations of her family having been involved in florals, it was only natural for Pitt to take up the business. “I grew up in my mother’s flower shop, spending afternoons as a child playing in the shop and eventually working there from the time I was 15 through college.”

A customer actually gave the business its name. “We were trying to establish ourselves as a vendor who worked exclusively with weddings and other special events. The name just sort of stuck,” Pitt says. But the business is also known as the Flower Design Studio, which Pitt explains comes from their days as a co-op with two other businesses.20130227_bs_7197 copy

Pitt says Flowers for Special Occasions is unique because they custom-make floral arrangements. “None of our work is based on cookie-cutter bouquets,” she adds. “We work with the client to develop a special feel for the event, and we create our pieces based on our collaborations.” Budgets of all sizes are welcomed by the Flowers for Special Occasions team. It doesn’t matter if a couple is working on a small or large budget—Pitt says the floral arrangements will look beautiful.

“We have built a very loyal following through the years. We work primarily through word of mouth. I believe [that] our happy clients and their referrals are what has built and sustained our company, making it the success it is today.

“Since we are a family business, we all have a personal stake in wanting our business to succeed. We never cut corners,” she says. “We have one chance to get it right, so we always strive to give each wedding something very special.”

For more information, visit flowersforspecialoccasions.webs.com or call 402-891-1602.