This article published in July/August 2015 Omaha Home.
It all started when Omaha’s Advanced Design & Construction set up temporary residence in Jim and Paula Wilson’s west Omaha neighborhood, where the couple had their own home built in 1997. Some neighbors contracted ADC, a custom design-build company, for a remodeling project, and the Wilsons were curious.
Naturally, when the finished project turned up on a remodel showcase tour in 2013, the Wilsons popped over to see the results.
In a small term, inspiration struck.
“When you live in a house for a very long time, even though it’s been 14 or 15 years and it’s old, you still think of it as your new house,” Paula says. “But no one else does. It gets dated.”
Appliances wear out. Styles change. Kitchens become mishmashes of ’90s fronts and current surfaces. Traditional furniture feels heavy.
Jim realized there were two options: Sell everything as it was and move to a new neighborhood—or city—or update what they had.
They loved their neighborhood. They looked for another one like it and couldn’t find a community that felt better. The choice was clear.
The Wilsons called ADC.
In its embryonic phase, the project was ambitious. The Wilsons proposed moving a wall that separates the living and dining room from their home’s kitchen, plus a separate addition to the house, but from a functional standpoint, the original plan wasn’t feasible. A lot of kitchen storage would’ve been lost in the process of re-creating something more open but still structurally sound, and in the end, a smaller scope offered greater possibility.
“We sit down and talk to [homeowners] and find out their wishes and then take those wishes, look at the structure, the systems, the adjoining rooms and see what the options are,” says Casey Illian, a partner at ADC. “Once we realize what can and can’t happen, we start plugging everything into a floor plan.”
In the case of the Wilsons’ home, the plan became simple: Optimize the functionality of the existing space, update the furnishings and appliances, and “make it pretty,” Illian said.
To the last end, ADC brought Interior Design Group’s Anita Wiechman into the project. She started in the kitchen, where she demonstrated for the Wilsons the most efficient number of steps in the classic work triangle—counter to stovetop to sink—to best utilize that space. Now a large, single-piece granite countertop flows along one side of the kitchen across from a fully vented-out gas range with a grill and—at Jim’s request—a wall-mounted pot filler. Every cabinet space has been made efficient, too, with pullout shelves so the Wilsons don’t have to bend down looking for dishes or storage containers lost at the back.
The kitchen’s original oak flooring—and the living room’s carpet—were torn out and replaced with more modern, wide-plank hickory flooring. In several key areas, Weichman designed colorful geometric rugs to set the tone and tie the spaces together; traditional furnishings in each room were replaced with fresher transitional pieces. In the living room, a sleek floor-to-ceiling tiled mantel took the place of library paneling, with a clean-burning liner fireplace at the center.
Off the entryway, a half-bath boasts textured, hand-painted wallpaper from Lincoln’s Vahallan, complemented by a vessel sink and thick raw-edge black granite countertop. The bathroom originally had a bathtub—one that got used, Paula says, only when she turned on the faucet to rinse out the dust.
ADC removed the tub and gave the Wilsons extra storage space in the room behind—thus giving Jim main-level closet space he hadn’t had in years. (Paula had the main-floor space; Jim had a basement closet.)
“Jim Wilson got his closet back,” he beams.
Paula got a more efficient closet, too, with segmented shoe storage and pull-down hanging bars that made utilizing floor-to-ceiling space possible. Between the closets, the master bath got a new soaker tub instead of a rarely-used whirlpool tub, and a more traditional shower became a zero-entry shower with a subtly sloped easy-drain floor and rain showerhead. In the master bedroom, the Wilson’s Ethan Allen bed sports new linens.
There’s a lot of pretty in the Wilsons’ new space—pretty and practical. The fridge is tucked in a flat-panel cabinet. The dining table is substantial but resistant to grandkids’ spills. Mounted angled outlets don’t interrupt backsplashes and designs with holes.
“That’s really the name of the game—getting the biggest bang for your buck,” Wiechman adds.
Jim put it even more simply.
“We really enjoy it a lot,” he says.