Tag Archives: home office

Paul Erik Nelson’s Home Office

January 12, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In the historic Loveland Park neighborhood, quietly nestled away along a tree-lined street, there is a home and homeowner with an uncanny fervor for contemporary style and historic authenticity.

Perched atop a grassy lawn, architect Paul Erik Nelson’s 4,400-square-foot residence stands regal with worthy bones updated with deliberate modifications. Nelson, who is the sole partner of PEN Architects—a firm known for both restorations and new builds—took this home as an architectural project and space for his growing family.

Built in 1937, the home was designed by Reinholdt Frederick Hennig in an art moderne style (sometimes called “streamline modern”), which is essentially a refined version of art deco. In line with this architectural style, the home features curvilinear elements inside, such as the stairs, as well as rounded corners around the windows.

Through researching the home, its historic neighborhood, and the original architect in preparation for renovations, Nelson learned that his home has several other companions built with the Farronwall technique before World War II in Nebraska. He explains that the Farronwall technique involves brick masonry that provides a formwork for pouring concrete floors. A hollow space between the massive walls helps to ventilate the house. 

Farronwall construction methods were low-cost, and the structures are known for their unique bombproof sturdiness. “We do feel very safe in this house,” Nelson says, “and older neighbors have told us they took shelter in it during the 1973 tornado.”

In the history of the residence, the Nelsons are the fourth owners—and the home’s exterior offers clues to its evolution. Instead of trying to hide previous renovations, he identified them in horizontal charcoal-gray shingles that accent Hennig’s original beige square bricks. Nelson envisioned “not fighting with the original character” while keeping it light with his own renovations.

To passersby on the street, his front yard’s modern treehouse offers one of his own attention-grabbing additions to the plot of land.

“The treehouse is floating and quite transparent, which is a playful contrast to the heavier more massive feeling of the house sitting on the ground,” Nelson says. “When I built it, the idea was to reuse materials from the original house and yard to enhance its physical connection. The horizontally laid wood slats do relate to some of the linear masonry detailing on the house. We liked the look of the treehouse so much we repeated some of the same architectural elements on an upper-level addition added recently.”  

After purchasing the home, Nelson began removing years of ad hoc additives to reveal Henning’s original detailing and intent. “I could tell there was something special hidden,” he says.

Peeling back the layers of the home’s history and functionality, he reorganized the space with warm wood floors, a new centralized kitchen, eclectic accents, and even turned a former garage into a family room. Some original details—including a rounded staircase off the entry foyer and calico fireplace—remain as a nod to the past. Nelson also opened up the second-floor master bathroom, adding large windows and tub that look out onto a lush back and side yard. This updated space includes protruding windows that double as display areas for personal items. It is through these calculated updates and personal touches that the Nelson family is transforming their 80-year-old home to work for their contemporary needs.

His sense of searching for the bones of a place and proposing tactical updates are also what Nelson pursues in his architecture practice. His office, conveniently located above the garage, is a light-drenched space with rolls of construction documents and balsa wood models neatly organized throughout. Two large iMac screens sit on an elongated desk scattered with notes, family mementos, and design periodicals.

Nelson started PEN in 2011 as a one-man-shop specializing in both commercial and residential architecture. To date, he has completed more than 40 architectural and historic preservation projects. For some of his work prior to establishing PEN, Nelson won an American Institute of Architects award for his work on the Joy Residence, Salhany Residence, and Whitcomb Conservatory on the campus of Doane College.

His approach to design allows each project to develop without a preconceived notion or style. What emerges, like his residence, is a studied product derived from an authentic process where appropriate additives coalesce alongside historic preservation—synchronicity at its best.

Visit penarchitect.com for more information about Paul Erik Nelson’s architectural work.

This article was printed in the January/February 2018 edition of Omaha Home.

Three National Retailers Expand in Omaha

February 25, 2013 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

12226 K Plz.

After a few years absent from the Nebraska market, national home décor retailer Kirkland’s is back with a larger, more convenient store in the L Street Marketplace shopping center at 120th & L streets, Omaha. “The new location is really centrally located in an area with lots of shopping, and provides a much larger footprint than the store [formerly] at Village Pointe,” says store manager Kristine Kleindienst. “Our showroom is at least double the size of the old location (about 9,300 sq.ft.), which means much more merchandise.”

Framed art, mirrors, accent rugs, and artificial floral arrangements are just a few of the home décor items Kirkland’s carries, all at very affordable price points. The store also offers many gift items and holiday and seasonal items, such as garden accessories. Company sales are very promotion-driven, Kleindienst says, “which prompts many of our customers to come in often and find a good variety of things on sale.”

Kirkland’s closed its Village Pointe store a couple years ago when the national chain underwent a restructuring. “For us, I think the recipe for success was finding the right location, which is what we have now. Customers are coming in and saying they love the bigger store, and that the parking is so much better,” Kleindienst says.

The Tennessee-based specialty store chain has more than 320 stores in 35 U.S. states, primarily in the southeast and east. “But Kirkland’s is growing more in the Midwest,” said Kleindienst, a 16-year veteran retailer. “The company sees a lot of potential for more stores in markets like Sioux Falls and especially Denver.”

12955 W. Center Rd.

HomeGoods, which specializes in bedding, furniture, and housewares, prides itself on selling affordable home accessories and having a frequently changing inventory. HomeGoods operates the home furnishing sections of TJ Maxx n’ More and Marshalls Mega Stores with 400 stores across the U.S. as of September 2012. With its headquarters in Framingham, Mass., items, as well as the store itself, have been featured on HGTV shows and decorating blogs.

Founded in 1992 and now operated by TJX Companies, HomeGoods has been leased in the former Sports Authority space in the Montclair on Center shopping center near 132nd and West Center Road. This makes it the first store in Nebraska, and only the second location in the Midwest (Kansas City). HomeGoods promotes themselves as having “Unique Home Decor and Affordable Home Furnishings,” according to their website, and they offer decorating tips for every space from the bedroom to the backyard. Interior designers and lovers of décor alike can use a series of items from the store to express their design style and keep up with the latest trends in housewares without breaking the bank or traveling several hours.

Pier 1 Imports
7809 Towne Center Pkwy.

With the growing popularity of Oscar® parties, as well as tea parties inspired by the hit PBS British drama Downton Abbey, the market for table settings, home décor, and dining furniture has greatly expanded, so much that a new Pier 1 Imports has opened in Shadow Lake Towne Center. Alex W. Smith, President and CEO, says, “We are pleased to bring this new Pier 1 Imports to Papillion and hope that our new location will inspire customers to discover the eclectic and fun merchandise that is unique to Pier 1 Imports.”

Customers can shop for items for their dining room, living spaces, home offices, and more at the new store, which will be the fourth location in Nebraska and third in Omaha (72nd & Dodge, Village Pointe). Established in San Mateo, Calif., in 1962, the original Pier 1 Imports catered to hippie baby boomers and included incense and love beads. Now, with over 1000 stores in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, Pier 1 specializes in imported home furnishings and décor (i.e. furniture, table-top items, seasonal décor, and decorative accessories).

So whether you’re in the market for a new set of teacups or even a dining room table, Pier 1 is sure to make your Oscar® party or any gathering a major hit!