Tag Archives: entertainment center

Living Large in the Backyard

July 31, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

If there were but one thing to consider before building your very own epic backyard party central, equipped with all the essential grilling and barbecue fixtures, it is this: Your guests don’t have to live with whatever outdoor Franken-kitchen you cobble together from your inner Cro-Magnon desire for fired meats.

No, they rub their bellies, hopefully thank their gracious hosts, and go home. It’s you who must live with what remains.

The better approach, it appears, is the path Stephen and Joy Abels took on their West Omaha home.

From left: Stephen, Joy, and Chelsea Abels

“Be patient,” Joy says. “The best design is probably not going to be your first or second design.”

The Abels thought long and hard about what they wanted their backyard to be. They hosted regular gatherings, a tradition they knew would continue. They like pizza about as much as anyone else, but not so much that an outdoor pizza oven made a lot of sense.

And they knew they enjoyed hosting friends and family, but that didn’t mean they wanted to be a caterer—just grill some fine meats, maybe smoke the occasional brisket or prime rib roast. That would be sufficient.

From a practical design perspective, they most desired a space to spend comfortably warm afternoons and evenings with their guests.

But the Abels also knew their kitchen table overlooked the backyard from large facing windows. They didn’t want an expansive gray slab of concrete (with a few deck chairs anchored together by some sort of monstrous outdoor fire pit) to mar their daily view.

So they saved. They scratched out ideas on napkins and random scraps of paper. And they spent countless hours stalking the internet for other inspirations on websites like houzz.com.

They began planning three years ago, when Stephen went for an evening stroll through the neighborhood.

A few doors down, he noticed a neighbor’s impressive backyard fireplace. Stephen had no idea who the neighbor was, but in that moment, he turned up the driveway and knocked on the door.

“I introduced myself, said, ‘Love your fireplace, tell me about it.’ He said, ‘Come on in.’ And he gave me Hugh’s name,” Stephen says, referring to Hugh Morton, co-owner of Sun Valley Landscaping, the company that would eventually redevelop the Abels’ backyard.

The Abels wanted to create a space that felt “like Nebraska.” Morton was happy to listen and accommodate their wishes. The finished product fits perfectly in place.

Morton’s design includes native trees and bushes in the landscaping, brickwork resembling quarried limestone from Ashland, and even the calming white noise of a stepped water feature. Everything seems a natural fit.

Perhaps the neater trick is the elegant flow into the style of the house. Although built years apart, the outside living area transitions seamlessly with the style of the indoors.

“The challenge for Hugh was I wanted it to feel comfortable for four people or 40,” Stephen says. “And I think he did a good job.”

There’s plenty room for the epic backyard barbecue, if the mood strikes; or a tranquil afternoon of quiet study for the family’s four home-schooled children; or just another one of their weekly church group nights of about two dozen people.

It’s exactly what they need it to be, when they need it. As it should be.

They put in the time, making sure the space was just right.

“And whatever you think it’s going to cost,” Stephen says, “round up.”

Visit sunvalleyomaha.com for more information about the company responsible for the Abels’ backyard space.

From left: Christian, Cameron, Stephen, Chelsea, and Joy Abels

This article was printed in the July/August 2017 Edition of Omaha Home.

Design Challenge

January 7, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Omaha Home found Brenna Maldonado rummaging through A&R Salvage and Recycling; the dusty, floor-to-ceiling treasure trove of everything you could possibly want or need in terms of salvaged…well, floors and ceilings, and everything in between.

But would the Union Pacific train dispatcher stand a chance in a design challenge when pitted against such seasoned pros as Omaha Home contributing editor Sandy Besch-Matson and the design mavens of Anderson Interiors—Lori Anderson, daughter Lindsey Anderson, and Erin Jerabek?

But Maldonado has an ace up her sleeve. She studied interior design in college, and her home is filled with creative and budget-friendly trash-to-treasure projects.

Let’s see what happens with a $150 spending limit at A&R Salvage in a no-holds barred design throw-down…

sandy-20131126_bs_5700

Sandy Besch-Matson’s Vanity

Materials List

  • Old dresser or similar piece of choice
  • Vintage tin ceiling tiles
  • Vestal sink knobs, 
(get fun with this item)
  • Decorative tacks or nails of choice
  • Paint and glaze 
(1 part paint/1 part glaze)

Construction Time: Five hours

sandy-20131126_bs_5715

“I love mixing the old and the new, especially with lots of texture. In my mind I was thinking of something that could be used as a multipurpose piece just about anywhere in my house. Pictured here it serves as a vanity, but that could all change very easily. Next week it could be behind my sofa with a lamp!” Sandy Besch-Matson

  anderson-20131121_bs_3405

Anderson Interiors’ Console Table

Materials List

  • Reclaimed wood planks
  • Metal drawer pulls
  • Legs from an old sewing machine
  • Cast iron grate steam radiator cover

Construction Time: Four hours

anderson-20131121_bs_3395

“Each item used in this table came from very different beginnings. We reclaimed and repurposed the materials to create an interesting console table that could adapt to many styles.” Lori Anderson

Brenna-20131125_bs_5544

Brenna Maldonado’s Hinged-Door Media Center

Materials List

  • Wooden lockers
  • Steel pallet for backing support
  • Locking casters

Construction Time: Four hours

Brenna-20131125_bs_5507

“I wanted to keep the paint because I really love the patina, so all I did was lightly sand the lockers and then went over them with a mix of ebony and dark walnut stains. I am forever rearranging my home and the wheels make this a very mobile piece. They also elevate it so it is less boxy and give it a bit of contemporary flair.” 
Brenna Maldonado