Tag Archives: OmahaHome

OmahaHome Entryway

October 26, 2019 by

“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps,
means a little bit more!”
—Dr. Seuss

It seems to me that each year tends to move a little faster than the one before. By the time I’m packing up Christmas decor, it’s time to bring it out once more.

Unfortunately, much of my Christmas decor was ruined by the flood waters in March. However, most things can be replaced.

As a thrifter, I know where to find good stuff for a bargain. The only thing is, the best time to get it is right after the holidays. It seems that many people are thinking the same after the January 1 purge—load up the car and off to the thrift store you go.

Adding your personal style and taste to the holidays is important. In this issue, the Ross’ blend of tradition and fresh aromatic greenery completes the scene and the Ericksons’ Victorian home will make you want to cozy up with a good book in every room—even the bathroom! Avoid the cold this holiday with Sarah Parys’ luxurious handwoven goods or  with Patrick McGee’s tips for growing fresh winter greens from the warmth of your own kitchen. Also in this issue, Mary Beth Harrold of Papillion Flower Patch lets us take a peek into her Christmas Caravan, which raises funds for a great cause.

Holidays can be stressful and even depressing for some people. A wonderful thing to do during this time is give back to those less fortunate. Volunteer your time, donate warm clothing or money to your favorite nonprofit, focus on helping others, and appreciate the things you have. This can lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.

Stay safe, and enjoy the season!

This article was printed in the November/December 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

OmahaHome Entryway

September 26, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

October is my favorite month for many reasons. Fall hues, the Halloween holiday, sweater weather, brisk air, pumpkin-flavored coffees, and curling up with a good book or a classic horror movie are just some of them.

Looking for inspiration on how to scare trick or treaters? Check out our feature on the Aksarben mother-son duo who brings out homemade props and frightful tricks to treat their neighbors. You can also learn some tips on repurposing your pumpkins after Halloween in our Harvest piece on page 44.

Or, get cozy by the fire pit and gather some great decorating ideas—from incorporating meaningful items into a mid-century modern style, to using reclaimed wood from local vendors, to designing rustic, open-concept floor plans—there is something for everyone in this issue.

On a personal note, I paid homage to my paternal grandparents in this issue’s DIY, which showcases their century-old wedding certificate on the countryside backdrop of Phyllis and John Kreb’s family farm just up the street from my home. I would have loved to have witnessed my grandmother’s reaction to seeing the certificate displayed in such a unique and special way.

As always, we hope these stories bring you inspiration this season. As you fall back, be sure to enjoy the cooler weather and embrace your home. It’s one thing to have a beautiful residence, but another to live in a house that makes you feel “at home.”   

Warm thoughts this season!

This article was printed in the October 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Planting Native Gardens for Pollinators

June 21, 2019 by
Photography by Provided

Many beautiful homes have beautiful yards, and many beautiful yards have gardens. Breathtaking gardens look natural and maintained. One secret is low-maintenance plant selection. Scott Evans, horticulture program coordinator with the University of NebraskaLincoln Extension, advises property owners try using native plants when planting a low-maintenance garden.

A native garden provides low maintenance along with other benefits. Evans says pollinators such as bees, flies, moths, butterflies are adapted to native plants, so they will thrive in native gardens. UNL Extension offers a Pollinator Habitat Certification for individuals who want to learn more about this subject. Evans says many people want to help conserve these insects. “It is a holistic approach to conservation of our beneficial insects,” he says.

Pollinators are important economically because they pollinate many food crops. Unfortunately, according to the website, these populations have become threatened due to causes such as habitat destruction, pesticide use, inadequate nutrition, and disease. Establishing a native garden can help solve the problem.

A native garden that benefits pollinators should have plants that bloom throughout the three growing seasons: spring, summer, and fall, says Evans. “A lot of our native plants are not in mainstream horticulture,” he says. Most popular landscape plants bloom only in summer. A native garden will produce blooms when most other gardens are already done. 

Beneficial pollinators need to spread the wealth of blooms across the three seasons because different types of pollinators are active during different times of the year. Evans advises planting blooming plants in groups of at least three to make them more attractive to pollinators.

Native spring bloomers include indigo, columbine, redbud, snowdrop, and pasqueflower. Summer options are abundant, says Evans. They include single-bloom coneflowers, spiderwort, Solomon’s seal, and liatrice. Evans says that double-bloom varieties of coneflowers are not ideal because many native insects may not be able to reach the nectar. Evans recommends planting goldenrod, Joe Pye weed, and fall-blooming aster in the year’s final season. There are many more options available, and searching websites or visiting a garden store will provide an abundance of suggestions.

These native plants are acclimated to Nebraska’s harsh winters and up-and-down weather during growing seasons. They don’t typically require watering once they are established, and they also do not require fertilization. Most native plants are perennials, so they will come back annually. Because most popular landscape plants require constant care and maintenance, native plants will save a homeowner time and money.

Native gardens geared toward beneficial insects should not be cleaned up much in the fall. The dead foliage provides overwintering habitat for those that remain through the cold months. There are close to 4,000 species of native bees in North America, says Evans. Of those, 1,200 species are tunnel nesting, which means they nest in hollowed-out tubes and stems. Leaving dead foliage is therefore crucial to their habitat.

The other 2,800 species of bees are ground nesting, meaning they require spare soil exposed in order to thrive. “Leave bare soil in a sunny locationground nesting bees prefer that,” says Evans. “And watch your watering because you don’t want to drown them out.”

Beneficial insects need water as well as shelter. Evans advises providing a pie pan filled with pea gravel just covered with water in your garden in a discrete location. The pea gravel will make the water less inhabitable to mosquito larvae and will make it easier for insects to climb on and use. A water feature, like a birdbath, is designed for larger animals. “Think of something the size of a bumblebee,” says Evans, noting that these insects can’t swim.

Evans says there are 75-80 total certified native gardens across the state. They are mostly on homeowners’ private properties. The garden surrounding the Butterfly Pavilion at the Henry Doorly Zoo, the one at the Sarpy County Fairgrounds, and the Hope Garden near 165th and Center streets are all native, Pollinator Habitat Certified gardens.

A native garden has the look of a natural and well-maintained garden while actually being low-maintenance. By establishing a native garden, a gardener provides pollinators with the essential food, water, and habitat they need to survive.   

Visit entomology.unl.edu/pollinator-habitat-certification for more information about the Pollinator Habitat Certification application.

This article was printed in the July/August 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

A Villa of a Different Color

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Angie Arkfeld says her builder’s style was traditional compared to her contemporary tastes. However, she liked the open template of a particular villa already underway, and she loved the neighborhood developing near 192nd and Pacific streets west of Shadow Ridge Country Club. So within the parameters of a set floor plan and builder limitations, Arkfeld made some important distinctions to make her new home patently hers.

“There was only so much I could do, but I changed as much as I could,” she says. Some of her ideas weren’t structurally feasible, but her bold approach helped her get key features she wanted. “I would ask the builder, ‘Can I do this?’ I tried to kind of go out of the box with everything.”

One big box—or rather, frame—Arkfeld stepped out of was windows and doors. She modified the shape and positioning of many of her windows, such as placing them in groups of three squares in a series next to a staircase, and using several horizontal styles high enough to need no coverings. “I have to have lots of light,” she says.

Her front door is a playful lime green and her gray interior doors are painted with white lines to create a modernistic, multi-panel effect. The unique features evident from the outside are subtle, Arkfeld says; her house integrates nicely into the neighborhood, but she’s been amused to discover that its custom elements have prompted several people moving into the development to ask the builder about those options.

Arkfeld rolled the color wheel right out of the box with dashes of chartreuse, teals, and magenta throughout her home’s interior. “I’m not into tans…I love color and I’ve always had color,” she says. “And I had a lot from my previous house I wanted to use.”

The primary factor behind moving into a new home may have been downsizing after a divorce, Arkfeld says, but that didn’t mean she wanted to start from scratch. Art and furnishings were transplanted from her previous house, mostly pieces she picked up from boutiques and home decor stores over time simply because they appealed to her. She’d always enjoyed moving pieces around and swapping them out from time to time in her previous home
“just to give it a new look or feel here and there,” Arkfeld says
and finding new places for everything in the new home was a challenge she enjoyed.

The blue-and-green color scheme was carried over from her previous home and extends to new rooms, such as the lower level bar. “I like my backsplash with its teal tile,” Arkfeld says.

Arkfeld's teal backsplash

Some decor elements couldn’t be directly transferred, so they were reestablished in new ways, such as brushed metal fireplace tiles that echo some metallic accents she liked in her previous home.
A designer friend, Janine Dunn, suggested bringing magenta accents into the picture, including dominantly in the powder room and as a focal point of Arkfeld’s oasis of a master bedroom.

“I knew I wanted a black wall somewhere and we ended up putting that in my bedroom behind my magenta headboard,” Arkfeld says. The rest of the room is painted gray and the white beams of the coffered ceiling stand out against the black ceiling surface. She recently re-covered two chairs her grandmother bought as a teenager in 1952 and created a comfortable sitting area with a sentimental touch.

“I love spending time in there,” she says. A master closet she doesn’t have to share adds to the appeal.

“My closet at my old house was very small and that was one thing I knew I wanted to change in this home. I love clothes, shoes, and jewelry, and I wanted a nice-size closet. I had [the builder] build in shelving for shoes, sweaters, et cetera, and also a bureau in the middle for my jewelry,” she says, adding that the closet is so roomy, “I also put a little desk in there because I have no office space here.”

Angie Arkfeld's master bath

Arkfeld’s fondness for accessories extends to fun and contemporary lighting fixtures throughout the home, many of them ordered online and all selected with care. “They’re like jewelry in a house,” she says. “It adds so much.” A wireless home sound system is another personal enhancement that she appreciates every day, Arkfeld says.

The modern kitchen has mitered quartz countertops and unusual champagne-colored cabinets. Arkfeld says Dunn talked her into the color, but she loves it.

“I don’t see anything like them and everyone always comments on them.” The kitchen is also her favorite first-floor vantage point.

“Everything is so open,” she says, making it easy to cook for guests or chat with her teenagers (Ava, 15, and Jaden, nearly 17) or 20-year-old daughter Sydney hanging out nearby. “I can oversee everything.”

Heading into the family’s second summer at the home, Arkfeld says it was an adjustment at first leaving a busy neighborhood to live on a property backed by trees. However, an expanded deck with sectional seating has become a lovely, peaceful space. “I’m very social and I love people,” she says. “But I do love sitting on the deck and looking out at the birds.”   

This article was printed in the July/August 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Angie Arkfeld's master bedroom

Engaging Senses & Slowing Down

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Bing Chen, Ph.D., treats visitors to his home graciously, especially when those visitors are there to enjoy his garden. He even provides a walking path to his neighbors’ house for easy access to the trails of his garden and has a welcoming spot at the entrance path of his home where guests can sit and enjoy the beginning hints of what lies beyond the home’s structure.

No guests are as eagerly anticipated as the nesting mallards who visit every year in the spring for four or five weeks. Affectionately named “Donald” and “Daisy” by Chen, the mallards come to enjoy the peaceful pond and quiet setting Chen meticulously planned and executed.

“It’s a living Chinese landscape painting,” he says, referencing his favorite style of art. “It’s supposed to make people wonder, ‘where does the trail go?’”

statue in Bing Chen’s home garden

In the late 1980s when Chen and his wife were looking to buy a house in the Omaha area, he already had a vision for the space. “Land options were limited—I sketched a landscape at each potential location.” He visualized a landscape which, much like the paintings he admires, forces the viewer to “stare for a while until the mind starts filling in the missing spaces you can’t see.”

What visitors always see is a cascading waterfall that empties into a koi pond surrounding a viewing deck. Beyond the pond is a variety of landscape details such as a hillside forest, and created hills and mounds. Walking among them feels like walking on a trail in the mountains. There is also a cave with a fire pit directly in front of it, and numerous trails that prove challenging hikes for visitors who want to explore. Places to sit and reflect are peppered throughout the space.

To call the space behind Chen’s house a “garden” does not do the area justice. To say the creation of the space took some effort is another understatement.

Bing Chen’s home garden deck

Chen tells the story of the day Delwin Rogers of Rogers Sod Farm happened to stop by to see the space Chen was creating. “He looked around and said, ‘You look like someone who needs some boulders.’” Thus began the saga of acquiring the giant rocks necessary to bring Chen’s vision to lifeincluding a 10-ton boulder that “made the neighbors think there was an earthquake” when it was unloaded from the truck. “My goodness, what a thud!” Chen remembers.

Chen named every trail that runs through his space. The two main trailsRidge Trail and Rim Trailmeet up in various spots and combine into one on the west side of the house. He planted everything intentionally to achieve a “changing panorama of color and texture.”

Winter is a resting period. “The gardens are barren and have a quiet tranquility related to winter introspection,” Chen says. “Spring is a quickening of the pulse” and it’s when crocuses begin to bloom. Summer is when “the maturity of the garden displays itself,” he says. “Senses are engaged and new actors appear on the stage.” Fall is a “slowing down. It’s the last spark.”

Fall is Chen’s favorite time because it’s when he starts planning his planting for the next year. The space may look different from one year to another, yet it remains a delightful respite from the rigors of daily life and a hidden treasure in the Omaha area.   

This article was printed in the July/August 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Bing Chen's home garden from above

Reuse for a Reasonable Renovation

June 12, 2019 by
Photography by Tom Kessler Photography

This transformation project began as a renovation in one of the Regency Villas—a 40-year-old kitchen needed a makeover. Although the layout was efficient the look was dated.

As we explored options, it became obvious this kitchen would be an expensive project for the homeowner. It needed a new counter but the cooktop was in good shape. The existing exhaust was vented to the outside, but the hood was outdated. Decorative touches were cottage-like, with scalloped trim over the sink and a floral valance at the window—not quite the look we were going for.

In addition, the cabinetry above the peninsula blocked the view to the dining area. The chandelier was not centered over the table. The existing wood floor had been refinished recently and would need to be protected. Unfortunately, the microwave had to rest on the counter next to the refrigerator due to the era when this kitchen was built. Lastly, if we didn’t tear out the kitchen, we were forced to keep the 30-inch-wide refrigerator space.

Regency Villa kitchen transformation

How do you renovate a dated kitchen while keeping it practical and within budget, as the homeowner requested?

To start, we discovered a showroom refrigerator perfect for the space, as it measures only 30 inches wide by 84 inches tall. The doors just needed a little paint. We removed the unused cabinets over the refrigerator, and it fit perfectly.

We also removed the cabinet next to the refrigerator and replaced it with a shorter one to hold the microwave.

Regency Villa kitchen transformation

The remaining cabinet doors and drawers received new fronts and hardware. We removed the cabinets over the peninsula, allowing us to place recessed lighting in the soffit. Under-cabinet lighting of dimmable LED strips were placed behind a small piece of trim along the bottom of the cabinets.

We discovered three different colors of white paint had been applied to the trim over the years. Fortunately, the wainscoting was in perfect condition compared to other parts of the kitchen. By matching the wainscoting paint color we avoided having to paint the entire kitchenanother cost saver.

One of the challenges was re-positioning the chandelier. As we attempted to move it, we discovered a structural support that would make it difficult to move. However the electrician was able to shift the box slightly and the medallion covers the necessary electrical changes.

The homeowner fell in love with a Cambria quartz composite material for the countertops. Coordinating an undermount sink and a new faucet with silver-toned wall covering helped unify the dining area with the kitchen workspace.

Regency Villa kitchen transformation table

We saved the floor, reused the cooktop and ovens, added a new hood, and avoided painting the wainscoting. The final touch was a consignment table and chairs, finishing the effect while staying on task.

Designing with my client’s budget in mind is my foremost focus. Sometimes magic can happen when you least expect it. Taking into consideration what is usable and designing the space to be as functional, creative, and refreshed as possible is the final goal.

This article was printed in the Junly/August 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Crafty Concrete

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Sophisticated is a not a word that typically comes to mind with the word “concrete.” But these days, concrete is making appearances in places other than sidewalks and patios. 

There is a difference between cement and concrete. Concrete is cement powder that is mixed with water and contains additional fillers that make the substance strong when dried. Cement has a smoother texture when it dries because it does not have these fillers. Either substance will work for these projects.

One thing is certain—this is a DIY even those who do not think they are crafty can conquer. And to top it off, it is virtually impossible to mess up.

This project highlights texture, and the key is to create contrast. I found concrete works wonders when paired with natural elements such as wood, sand, and stones. But the substance will work with many designs to suit anyone’s personal style. I attempted three projects here that are sure to add interest to a home.

Materials Needed:

Plastic containers to use as concrete molds. Make sure it is strong enough to hold the shape of the concrete. I found plenty of large bowls while thrifting or at the dollar store. Two different-sized bowls are needed for the inner and outer shapes of the concrete bowl.

• Plastic storage tub 

• Five-gallon bucket

• Large, heavy stir stick

• Water pitcher

• Fine concrete (I used Quikrete 5000)

• Smaller rocks or sand

• Felt (if placing indoors)

• Sanding block or

sandpaper (coarse)

• Eye and face protection

• Rubber gloves

• Plastic drop cloth

• Cooking spray or WD-40

• Glass hurricane (craft stores have several assortments)

• Plastic coffee can

• Box cutter or handsaw

• Cardboard tube (I used Quikrete’s Quik-tube)

Important step before starting:

Thoroughly grease your molds so the concrete does not stick. Not doing so means that it will be tough to get the concrete out of the molds once the substance dries. Have all of this done and ready to go once the concrete is mixed, and be sure to work on a flat surface.

Hurricane lamp base:

Note: Make sure to use a cardboard tube that is at least 1 inch wider than the hurricane. Also make sure the top and bottom are both level.

Step 1: Create a makeshift bottom for the tube using a foam plate, or anything sturdy that will easily come away from the concrete.

Step 2: Place the tube on a piece of plywood or other level surface. This also protects the working surface from the concrete.

Step 3: Mix the concrete (I did three smaller batches and poured into the tube), then tap the side to make sure air bubbles are out.

Step 4: Press an object a bit wider than the glass hurricane (a plastic coffee can works well) into the concrete.

Step 5: Rotate the can a few times in the first two or three hours. After that point you can remove the can, then let the column dry another 24 hours.

Step 6: Once dry, remove the cardboard tube with a box cutter or handsaw. Spray it with water if necessary.

Step 7: Gently lay column on its side and remove the bottom, then sand the rough edges with a sanding block.

Step 8: Place the glass hurricane in the indention, then fill it with sand or pebbles, and decorate how you like. Mine has a base of 12 inches in diameter.

If you plan to use the hurricane inside, place felt on the bottom of the lamp base to protect surfaces.

Tealight candle holders:

Step 1: Mix concrete with water until it is the thickness of pancake batter.

Step 2: Fill the larger mold with concrete to about one inch from the top. Tap sides to eliminate air bubbles and level the surface. 

Step 3: Push the smaller mold into the area where you want the candle to sit, leaving adequate thickness for the bottom.

Step 4: Place sand or pebbles in the smaller mold (for weight) and let the concrete set for 24 hours.

Step 5: Remove the molds and smooth any rough edges with a stone or coarse sand block.

If you plan to use the candle holder inside, place felt on the bottom of the candle holder to protect surfaces.

Concrete Bowl:

Step 1: Mix concrete with water until it is the thickness of pancake batter.

Step 2: Fill the large, lubricated bowl ¾ of the way with concrete. 

Step 3: Nestle the smaller (lubricated on the outside) bowl inside the larger bowl filled with the concrete. Make sure to tap around the bowl for air bubbles.

Step 4: Add pebbles or weights to the inner bowl, to help create the indentation. 

Step 5: Remove the inner bowl after 24 hours, but allow additional drying time for the outside

Use this bowl to decorate as you like. Placing it on a wooden shelf would be beautiful.
If you plan to use the bowl inside, place felt on the bottom of the bowl to protect surfaces.

Enjoy your décor!  

This article was printed in the July/August 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Flanagan Lake Gives Omaha a Place to Grow

June 11, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Tops of trees sprout from the water in a neat row down the center of Flanagan Lake, a new public park situated in northwest Omaha. What was once farmland divided among 17 separate owners has grown into gently sloping green hills surrounding an elongated body of water. This project that has been in the making since 2009 officially opened to the public in June 2018.

Planned and constructed by the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, the park took three years to complete after groundbreaking before it was turned over to Omaha’s Parks and Recreation Board.

The park will provide a welcome green space for many nearby homeowners. Housing developments around the lake are already beginning to take root. A number of homes-in-progress at Pier 15 development will offer lakefront locations with uninterrupted views of the water, as well as villas and houses within easy walking distance. The developer’s website shows that Villa lots are available for $52,000, while lakefront lots are selling for $110,000. Residences in the villas sell for $350,000-$500,000, while houses sell from over $450,000-$800,000. Anchor Pointe housing development (located along 168th and Ida streets) will be included in the Bennington School District.

“We’re getting a mix of retirees and a few clients who are younger that like not having to worry about the maintenance,” says Matt Caniglia, owner of Silverthorn Custom Homes.

As for the homes themselves, Caniglia says the area will consist of mostly ranch homes with a few two-stories, as requested by customers. While the subdivision itself at 168th and Fort streets does not feature many businesses, it is close to Maple Street, which has grocery stores, drug stores, and other necessities.

The common connection with the residents, though, is the natural amenities. “The people who have bought really like [having] the access to the lake without living on the lake. We see people liking not having the extra costs that come with living on a lake, like needing a boat and a dock.”

The 730-acre park features 5.2 miles of trails for biking and hiking, a boat ramp, restrooms, and picnic shelters. Different types of trees are planted and showcase small gold plaques along the waterfront, each dedicated to a different person or family from Omaha. Solar-powered lights and ample parking space make this park fun and functional for all.

The lake offers an assortment of amenities such as fishing, kayaking, or picnicking. By the end of 2019, a large playground structure will also take root. Visitors can expect multiple slides, bridges, and climbing walls, as well as several homages to the park’s namesake.

In 2017, metro citizens were given an opportunity to cast votes for potential names of the park. While several dozen were suggested, the most voted-for was Father Flanagan, the name of the priest who established Boys Town in Omaha in 1917. Flanagan Lake provides a great opportunity to redistribute some of the city’s sculptures to this new neighborhood. Specifically, pieces from the Take a Seat bench series at Gene Leahy Mall will find a new home at Flanagan Lake.

When asked about how the park will impact citizens and the overall landscape of Omaha, Omaha Parks and Recreation director Brook Bench recounts the various amenities the park makes available to residents. “It adds something very special to that northwest part of the city.”   

Visit flanaganlake.com for more information about this lake and the surrounding communities.

This article was printed in the July/August 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Lights, Home, Action

Photography by Provided

A house is the single largest purchase most people will make. Yet, it’s tempting to leave lighting the property for a later time. The outdoor lights are often little more than an afterthought.

It’s a significant challenge to make what surrounds a home all-at-once safe, cozy, secure, inviting, and beautiful. A few well-placed lights in the backyard, for example, can make indoor spaces feel larger. A well-lit exterior not only deters unwanted guests but also extends the time a space can be enjoyed for a backyard cookout or relaxing under the stars.

“It’s one thing you can put together to make your house look sharp and a little safer, a little more secure,” says Jerry McKay, owner of McKay Lighting.

Josh Reeves of Midwest Lightscaping says that people need to keep their goal in mind when thinking about what to light.

“Is it security? Is it aesthetics?” Reeves says. “There are also safety aspects, like stairs. Once you know your lighting goals, you can match the proper fixtures to the goals.”

The best way to achieve great outdoor lighting, McKay says, is to have a plan, and a homeowner can’t do that if they aren’t sure what they want. A good way to create a plan is to act like it’s Christmas.

“Drive around the neighborhood and start to notice it,” he says. “See what good lighting looks like…what you like, and what you don’t like.”

For example, some houses are lit in such a way that it produces a lot of glare. It might actually be harder to see the front porch on those houses with the lights on than with them off. That defeats the main purposes of external lighting.

There are three main types, or functions, for external lighting: task, ambient, and accent.

Task lighting is perhaps the most important and should be the first priority. Task lighting includes lighting all entryways and footpaths, the driveway, and the garage. Task lighting is about safety and security, without intruding on anyone indoors, including the neighbors.

Home Exterior Lighting in Omaha, provided by Midwest Lightscaping

Home Exterior Lighting in Omaha, provided by Midwest Lightscaping

Ambient lighting is softer light often used in outdoor living spaces such as the back porch. Lanterns, string lights, or ceiling fans produce the kind of inviting and cozy light that’s ideal for entertaining and relaxing.

Accent lighting can include up-lighting columns or other architectural features. It also includes lighting certain landscaping elements such as trees or bushes. McKay likes to place lights high in trees to create a moonlight effect that casts dramatic shadows throughout the space.

If nothing else, give the lighting all due consideration, because striking the right balance between security, safety, and beauty isn’t easy.

“Design is important,” McKay says. “A lot of times, less is best.”

Once the design has been drawn, the property owner should then consider the best lighting for the area, and be prepared to pay for it. “There’s almost always some sticker shock when people learn the price,” McKay says. But, he adds. when it comes to lighting, he has learned the hard way that you often get what you pay for. He recalls losing a job when he bid $22,000, which was almost double the lowest bidder.

Water Fountain Lighting in Omaha, provided by McKay Lighting

Water Fountain Lighting in Omaha, provided by McKay Lighting

“We ended up going back to redo it five years later when it started failing,” he says.

Most hardware stores and retailers carry affordable options, but some lack in the quality of the materials used, he says.

“It’s like anything. It’s better to save up a little,” he says. “Wait until you can afford it and not go cheap, because you’ll just have to replace it later.”

For any do-it-yourselfers, McKay recommends purchasing through the manufacturers, where it’s easier to find more durable fixtures made with materials like brass and copper.

“Start with the best stuff you can afford,” he adds.

Using cheap fixtures is among the most common mistakes he sees when his crew comes in to fix home lighting attempts, whether it was a DIY project gone wrong or an inexperienced landscaper or lawn care service provider.

Reeves says that matching the lighting to the correct color temperature is important, especially if a homeowner has existing lighting that will not be replaced. Many LED lights produce a bright white or blue glow, whereas incandescent lights produce a warmer, more yellow color. Newer LED lights do a better job of creating warm light or cool light.

The color of the light is dependent on the kelvins, a unit of measure used in lightbulbs, indicated by the letter K on a bulb.

You want to match the kelvins,” Reeves says. “When LEDs first came out, they were in the 5,000 kelvin range. A standard incandescent is in the 2,700-range, and now we have LEDs that are in that range.”

Other common mistakes include misusing fixtures (mounting a path light next to a tree instead of up-lighting it), sloppy installations with exposed or poorly hidden wires, and using cheap connectors, which he says always fail eventually and are tricky to troubleshoot when they do.

Whether outdoor lighting becomes a DIY job or requires a professional, this important part of home ownership should be attended to in order to keep a home safe and secure.   

Visit mckaylighting.com and midwestlightscaping.com for more information.

This article was printed in the July/August 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Outdoor Water Feature Lighting in Omaha, provided by McKay Lighting

Outdoor Water Feature Lighting in Omaha, provided by McKay Lighting

OmahaHome Entryway

January 4, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“New Year—a new chapter,
new verse, or just the same old story?
Ultimately we write it. The choice is ours!”
—Alex Morritt

It’s time to take the Christmas lights down and put the house back in order. Time to freshen things up and plan for jobs to tackle. It’s 2019—and timing is everything.

Another year is upon us and as I sit here writing this letter, I’m flabbergasted to be saying “Happy New Year!” so soon.

Once again, it’s all about making life simpler and less stressful. After doing some DIY research, I found clever ways to do so.

This issue covers the old and the new. The Powells’ fireplace featured in Spaces not only complements their custom home at 90th and Farnam streets, but adds new luxury for these cold months.

Patrick McGee’s article in Landscape” will challenge your thoughts on winter tree-trimming and help you take better care of your trees when pruning.

“At Home” may be just what the doctor ordered for those wintery blues. Scatter Joy Acres shows you how volunteering does many good things for mind and body.

It may be hard to leave the comfort of your own home, but get out and into the community to enjoy the season.

From OmahaHome to your home, have a happy and fabulous new year!

 This article was printed in the January/February 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.