Tag Archives: window treatments

The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

November 5, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The first thing you notice when entering the Metcalfe Park-area home of Andrea and Brian Kelly is that which is missing.

The most common architectural element found in the brick, Tudor-inspired homes that dominate the neighborhood, one bisected by the snaky meanderings of Country Club Avenue, is an arch that separates the living and dining rooms.

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It’s a bold stroke to swing a sledgehammer at such a signature detail, but taking down the arch was central to a vision of transforming this traditional home into a showpiece of contemporary design.

Oh, and it probably didn’t hurt that the couple behind that vision are both architects known for innovative thinking in the spaces they create.

“It’s natural for people to get into a new home, look at it as a blank page, and think about what to add to it,” says Brian, a professor of architecture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“Our philosophy was just the opposite,” explains Andrea, formerly of Randy Brown Architects and now stay-at-home mom for the couple’s 6-year-old son, Jackson. “It started with what we knew we’d be subtracting from it.”

Next to go was much of the ceiling in the living room, a decision that eliminated almost 100 square feet of second-floor living area in a home that holds barely 10 times that amount to begin with. For this couple, the word “area” is merely a formulaic measurement. Space, on the other hand, is a theoretical construct felt at a gut level.

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“Our aim was to increase the spatial dimension of this place,” Brian says. “The overall effect is that the house feels bigger. And we gained tons of natural light down here that used to be wasted up there,” he says in pointing to an upstairs window that now illuminates much of the home’s first floor.

A six-month study trip to Europe helped validate the couple’s notion of scale.

“People ‘live small’ in Europe,” Brian says.

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“Our home is still very American,” Andrea adds, “and it’s downright grand in scope compared to how most people live in Europe. This is a lesson in efficiency, livability, and defining the balance between personal spaces and communal spaces. It really suits our family well.”

The home juxtaposes natural materials against those that are decidedly industrial and hard-edged.

Organic hues in untreated lumber and hardwood floors blend with perforated aluminum, plexiglass, and naked steel. Factory stamping marks on wood and wax pencil numbering on metal are left untouched in evoking a raw sensibility. The original fireplace survived, but the mantle above was replaced by a bent-steel picture rail. Alligator clips attached to wires suspended by magnets allow a funky, quick-change approach to displaying family photos.

The absence of window treatments? The desire for simplicity, openness, and clean lines, Andrea says, trumped worries about privacy. Geography also lends a hand in eliminating sight lines for prying eyes. The home sits on a hill overlooking Metcalfe Park, and the back is shrouded by dense greenery.

Splashes of color erupt in marigold, grey, and in artwork—much of it created by Brian, Andrea, and Jackson. The dining area features orange Eames chairs that gathered grease for four decades in the auto body shop of Andrea’s father.

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Brian did most of the work himself.

“He’s more of a designer and I’m more of a planner,” Andrea says. “I’m into the technical aspects of construction and wanted to do a budget…detailed drawings…the works.”

“Wasn’t gonna happen,” Brian says with a chuckle. “I didn’t want to think too much about it when it came to process. For me it became an experiment, an in-the-moment experience.” When you set out to do the unexpected, the professor explains, stumbling onto a few surprises along the way can serve as a gateway to learning.

Save for the use of perforated aluminum cladding on an exterior handrail, neighborhood dog-walkers are afforded no hint as to what lies beneath when they pass the home that looks like so many others in the tree-lined neighborhood.

“And that’s the whole idea,” Andrea says. “That’s why we call this place the wolf in
sheep’s clothing.”

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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.