Tag Archives: antiques

Historic Brandeis Mansion

December 24, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Mark Maser starts with sound advice for any home decorator: “Buy what you like and find a way to make it work in your space.”

And when the holidays come around, he says, “everything stays.” It’s an approach that makes sense for a lot of homeowners, but especially so for a family that owns a turn-of-the-century Omaha mansion that’s also got a lot working in its space—a Jacobethan Revival exterior with brick walls, a red tile roof, and stucco and half-timber work; an interior main staircase with Colonial Revival-style columns flanking the main staircase inside; a sitting room ceiling with exposed beams recalling the Arts and Crafts period; a neo-classical music room; a Georgian Revival dining room. The design—the early-1900s work of architect Albert Kahn—blended several interior design revival styles to make it feel like an English manor house updated through the years, Maser said.

Department-store mogul Arthur Brandeis commissioned the house, situated at 500 S. 38th St., in 1904; Maser’s parents purchased the house in 2008 after it had served as commercial and private residential spaces for years and, by the end of the early aughts, had been through nearly a decade of restoration. Maser and his partner, who’d lived around the corner in another Gold Coast home, moved in.

“We were attracted to the house because of its traditional nature,” Maser says. “I’ve always liked old stuff. We thought if we could park our collections inside an older home, it’d be a perfect fit.”

The question, then? How to make the house feel comfortable, Maser says, how to make it feel like a place people could sit around without feeling constricted in a small antique chair—how to make it feel like the things inside had always been there.

Maser mixed modern upholstered items amid antiques. In a nod to Britain’s Victorian and Edwardian periods—when, Maser says, families were proud to display collectibles purchased in far-off lands by relatives with foreign business concerns—he placed chinoiserie and other items from across the globe throughout rooms.

“The rule I have is ‘be true to the space,’” Maser explains. “[The house] has a sense of collection.”

And that is the sense that, at the holidays, stays.

“We don’t want to lose the flavor of the stuff,” he says. “That way it looks like Christmas is more organic.”

Maser says he works with the help of a decorator (this year, Voila! Flowers’  Ann Etienne is helping with the mansion’s holiday transformation) to find what he and his partner like and make it work
with the house.

“We buy Christmas things that are not 100 years old but are inspired by them,” he says. “We put something together that feels right for a period house.”

It’s a blend of Christopher Radko ornaments, clip-on glass birds, peacocks in blue and green and teal and white, some rooms that are more red than green. With the home’s limited floor space, a shorter 4- or 5-foot tree goes in a large Chinese fishbowl on a table in one room, atop a piano in another.

“It gives the sense of the tree being important and tall,” Maser said, “but without eating up floor space or having to move out furniture.”

And when guests are coming to call—at the mansion, it could be family members or nonprofit groups and organizations (Maser is president of the Opera Omaha Guild, which hosts events in the mansion) or, more recently, private parties by reservation—Maser says the primary concern is to make sure they have a good time.

He doesn’t set a particular theme to events and leaves a lot of creative decision-making to the people he says have the specialized skills for it—florists and photographers and caterers (he consistently works with Attitude on Food).

His does prepare one holiday dish, however, frequently requested by his guests: egg mousse.

He makes the mousse and arranges it in the shape of a tree on a platter. He tops it with parsley flakes and tomato ornaments and olive tapenade garland.

“Every time I have a party, people ask for egg mousse,” he boasts. “I’ve served it millions of times. People think it’s just dandy.”

It’s what people like. It works in the space.

It’s comfy. Merry.

“When Christmas goes up and the music goes on and the lights are twinkling,” Maser says, “it’s a happy feeling.”

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Shop Around the Corner

November 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In September, Jessica Misegadis swore that Shop Around the Corner would never relocate again. “I hated moving,” the co-owner of the secondhand shop said at the time. “I don’t want to ever do it again.” Business partner Geri Hogan tutted, “Never say never.” There’s a reason such sage advice doesn’t go out of style. This December, Misegadis and Hogan will set up shop for the third time as they move to the Kraft building on 16th and Leavenworth streets to get away from the expense of their previous Old Market location.

Patrons should be able to once again browse Shop Around the Corner’s magical shelves in time for the holidays, Misegadis says. In fact, you may find more than you bargained for: Shop Around the Corner will actually be inside a new, third storefront of The Imaginarium, owned by James Kavan. Thrift-loving explorers may run across vintage clothing, furniture, dishware, records, gilt picture frames, or even old-school arcade games.

Is there anything they don’t sell?

“I mean, we’re willing to look at anything,” says Misegadis. “There aren’t any certain items we don’t sell.” She and Hogan are the friendly faces you’ll see on any given day at the new Imaginarium, managing their Shop Around the Corner as well as the larger antiques mall surrounding their own vending.

The easy banter of the two rather stylish women is misleading—they haven’t even known each other a year. They met, in fact, while working at the original Imaginarium, an antiques shop on 13th and Howard. “We just started talking about clothes one day and saying, ‘We should open a vendor booth together,’” Misegadis recalls. “And the next thing you know we did.”

That’s apparently a side effect of mentioning an idea within earshot of Kavan. “Within a couple days, we were looking at a place with keys in our hand,” Hogan says. “I mean…we had keys!”

The original Shop Around the Corner opened in March of 2013. The 15th, to be exact. “Here, I have it written on a dollar bill, look,” Misegadis says, pulling out a framed George Washington. A lot has changed between then and now. For example, there is no more crying in the fitting room. “That first day, I cried because I was terrified,” she says. “Can we do this, what if we can’t do it?”

Just a few months later, the answer is, well, of course they can. Hogan is an experienced vintage clothing vendor, and Misegadis learned everything she knows about antiques from one of Omaha’s best-known sellers, Susan Hoffman Brink. Brink, who owned Second Chance Antiques, passed away last April. “I didn’t know anything about antiques before I met her,” Misegadis recalls. “She was a very fair person. If something was worth more than what someone was asking, she would tell them. She taught me how to check if jewelry was signed, she taught me how to check age on things…she was amazing.”

Speaking of jewelry, Hogan brags that Misegadis is the brains behind the jewelry selection of Shop Around the Corner. It’s true she has a certain flair for the shiny, decked out as she is in a Whiting & Davis mesh necklace and snake bracelet.

“Well, Geri is the one who finds the most unbelievable vintage clothing,” Misegadis counters. “I don’t even know how she finds things from the ’30s in this great condition…I mean, you just don’t see it.”

Hogan shrugs. “It just happens. I dig, like you do.”

The clothing offered by Shop Around the Corner is varied and not just vintage. Contemporary brands are sprinkled throughout, though gems such as plus-sized vintage, designer labels, and men’s and children’s fashion have their own special sections. “We’re trying to keep it organized,” Misegadis says. “We like to be able to send people to one area to find what they’re looking for.”

Of course, there are always those special little items that a shop owner might decide to put back for herself. “There was the Egyptian ring in the front case,” Misegadis says, “and I had got it from Susan. Someone was really wanting to buy it, but they put it back. So it’s at home now because I was like, I’m taking this.”

“You do get attached,” Hogan agrees. “You’re never going to see some of these things again.”

Antiques at Revival

August 29, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Partners Joe and Amanda Johnson are committed to reviving history. Through their new antique shop, Antiques at Revival, they are attempting to do just that, one piece at a time. In June, they opened their business on Leavenworth Street with the goal of giving the Omaha community not just a run-of-the-mill antique shop but one that provides knowledge, advice, and lessons to its customers.

“In January of this year, I accidentally found myself without a job,” Amanda remembers. “We’ve always had dreams of opening an antique shop, so Joe says to me, ‘You can either go get a job, or we can create one for you.’ The rest is history.”

The shop carries a large variety of furniture, home décor pieces, and other odds and ends. Items so odd, in fact, that you can find air plants, terrariums, and even farm-fresh eggs. The couple continuously hunt for items all over the country to bring back pieces that customers might not usually see in this region. Those that ultimately end up in the shop date from around the 1790s to the 1970s. In addition to selling items, Amanda says Antiques at Revival is the only antique shop in Omaha that offers interior design and furniture repair and refurbishing classes.

“We do our best to specialize in high-quality, well-preserved merchandise,” Amanda explains. “Some of our pieces need a little TLC, and we put in the time, effort, and skill that it takes to bring them up to par. The craftsmanship that is put into antique pieces isn’t something you come across today.  It is truly amazing to look at a piece and see the detail, history, and pride that went into making it.”

With their shop, the Johnsons strive to be involved with the Douglas County Historical Society to help support their efforts of preserving Omaha’s history. Each month, Antiques at Revival donates a portion of their profits to the DCHS.

“We truly believe in the efforts of the historical society and all they do for Omaha and Douglas County. Without the historical society, a lot of Omaha’s history may have been lost forever,” Amanda says.

These monthly contributions are just one way this eclectic antique shop is striving to keep history, particularly Omaha’s, alive.

Antiques at Revival
4541 Leavenworth St.
402-315-9761
antiquesatrevival.com

Deb’s-tique

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Located in Clocktower Village just east of Westroads Mall, Deb’s-tique offers an array of jewelry, antiques, home accents, clothing, and gifts at price points its customers appreciate. The store also carries a line of Made in the U.S.A. food items. Owner Deb Schneider describes Deb’s-tique as “accommodating” and “a place that gives customers a warm shopping experience.” Guests are offered coffee and tea and can shop for themselves or their loved ones in a relaxing, personal atmosphere.

Schneider is no stranger to owning a business, as she and her husband also run a construction company. Her inspiration for opening her store last September came from her family life and 20+ years as a mother. “Mothers need some time to themselves—to take time and let it be about you,” she says. The boutique provides a space for women to shop for unique gifts and caters to anyone from late teens to late 70s. Deb’s-tique also sees many husbands and fathers shopping for the women in their lives.

“We wanted a broad clientele,” Schneider says. When asked why she chose the location, she says, “It is a central point for many different people…a place anyone can come to.”

Deb’s-tique
617 N. 98th St.
402-934-3770
debstique.com

British Regency, French Chic

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“My favorite thing in life is to read a book and be cozy,” confesses Julie Kenney. So when she is designing a space in her Dundee home, she thinks, “Would I want to sit here and read a book?”

Thus, it is no surprise that one of her most-loved spots in the house is a small chair and robin’s egg “poof,” as she dubs the felted, flower ottoman, tucked by the fireplace in her living room. On cold, rainy days, a crackling fire with cup of tea and engrossing book are the tickets to contentment.20130111_bs_0634 copy

Kenney and her husband bought the Georgian brick 13 years ago. Though the architecture is purely British Regency, her interior decorating is unabashedly French chic. She mixes wood, iron, and upholstered furnishings and is drawn to crystal chandeliers and light fixtures. Silver-framed snapshots capturing family and friends are clustered on a French country side table, and works by local artists Paula Wallace and Dan Boylan hang conventionally on walls and unconventionally from molding and overlapping windows. Kenney would call it “shabby chic,” though even a cursory peek into her foyer would indicate it is more “chic” than “shabby.”20130111_bs_0640 copy

Kenney only fills her home with items she loves, though the space for which they are intended is rarely where they end up. “I buy things because I like them. Then, I find a place for them,” she reveals.

The sideboard in the entry called three other spots home before landing in its present location. But it shouldn’t get too comfortable there; Kenney has a propensity to move smaller pieces of furniture and decorative accents around. It keeps things feeling fresh in her home, she says.

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She also likes to pair investment pieces with inexpensive finds. To wit: the high-back upholstered couch facing the fireplace and the chair kitty-corner to it in the entryway. The couch was a substantial purchase. Its Old World character and metal stud trim caught her eye. But then while perusing the nooks and crannies of McMillan’s Antiques on 50th and Leavenworth (the day the Kenney family moved into the house, no less), she spied her sofa’s black sheep of a step-brother—a slightly banged-up wingback chair very nearly the same color with almost identical bronze-stud trim—and promptly purchased it for a song.

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But that is Kenney’s way. Be open to possibility. Look for fun additions in the most unlikely spots. The crystal chandelier in the dining room is a modern (albeit a good one) replica of a French antique. She made the chairs at the ends of the table her own by reupholstering hand-me-downs from a friend. The hanging light fixtures on either side of the bed in the master bedroom were cast-offs from another friend who thought them “God-awful.” Kenney didn’t. She snatched them up off her friend’s front stoop (literally) like a wide-eyed kid given free rein in a candy shop.

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Whimsy is important to Kenney. Function does not preclude fancy; utilitarian does not mean ugly. After searching for a canister set in vein, Kenney decided to store her dried goods in glass containers. Cluster them on an antique silver tray and you’ve added another layer of interest. The greenery adorning her kitchen light is last Christmas’ mantel decoration. “I use the bay leaves in soups and cooking all year,” Kenney shares.

And the miniature serving platters filled with lemons and limes? They are actually antique silver ash trays. So, yes, they come out at parties still…But to a healthier end this time around.

Small spaces are her favorite. Sometimes, it’s just a nook she has created in a larger room: her reading spot or her children’s computer space, tucked into the corner of her living room and delineated with a bookshelf “wall.”

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Sometimes, it’s an actual room. Guests, she says, gravitate to the butler’s pantry during gatherings, with its Toile paper and dimpled and dented concrete countertops. She is particular to her office space off the master bedroom. The walls are painted black and white stripes—“because I’ve always wanted a black-and-white-striped room”­—and the ceiling is papered. An oversized red, lacquered mirror which was intended for her foyer adds a dramatic pop of color to the room.

Large or small, home for Kenney is where her family gathers. “I would rather be home than anywhere else,” she contently confides.