Tag Archives: Tara Legenza

Eclectic Style Pulls Together Custom-Built Home

September 26, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Lime green lawn chairs and a Japanese maple brighten the entryway of the Legenza’s Bennington home, creating an inviting space typical of their style.

“Our last house was so dark and it drove me crazy,” Tara Legenza says. “It was built in ’79 so the rooms were very defined, and I hated that.”

Behind their front door is a curated entryway that melds into the open floor plan with one great kitchen, dining, and living room space where the Legenza family—including husband Jon, two children, three dogs, and a full tank of saltwater fish—spend their time. The space features two massive, exposed-bulb chandeliers.

“I knew I wanted one, big, open space,” Tara Legenza says. “I wanted tons of light.”

After three years searching for an existing carpet-free house with an open floor plan, natural light, and a modern exterior, the Legenzas decided to build their current home.

“We were like, ‘We’re just going to do it our way,’” Legenza says.

Their three-bedroom, three-bath home was two years in the making. When their first home sold faster than expected, Legenza and the kids moved in with her parents in San Antonio for a year while the custom home was finished.

“Then we moved in Christmas Day,” she says. “It was like a great present.”

Tara and Jon collaborated on the floor plan by “meshing” together several home floor plans from their builder, Todd Gaver of Gaver Custom Homes. Legenza added a few custom features for their family, including lower cabinets in the kitchen offering easy dish access for their young kids and a pantry with ample counter and shelf space.

Tara Legenza's kitchen

“I always think about efficiency,” Legenza says. “Where will people stand, how will they use the space. Everyone’s family life is different, so you definitely need to plan for your life.”

“Life-proof” luxury vinyl planking, or “LVP” as Legenza calls it, and colored concrete in the lower level were chosen to make maintenance and cleanup a breeze.

“We built this house with pets, kids, craziness in mind,” Legenza says. “We like to entertain quite a bit too, and we’re not people that make you take your shoes off at the door.”

She grew up in a military family and relocated to Omaha in 1999. Legenza received an associate’s degree in photography from Metropolitan Community College and a Bachelor of Arts and Studio Arts from the University of Nebraska. 

In 2014, following a successful career in corporate marketing, Legenza founded ReDefined Interiors by Tara, a home staging and decorating business, that eventually led her to join Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Ambassador Real Estate as an agent.    

The career shift lets her take “calls on the go,” gets her out from behind her desk, and offers a work-life balance suited to her creative personality. Legenza’s sense of style goes into her staging as well as her home. Favorite pieces displayed in her entryway include antique cameras, film cutting equipment, hardcover books from her grandparents, and canvas displays of her photography.

“I have an eclectic taste, and I incorporate things that have meaning for me,” Legenza says.

“Everything kind of has a story behind it, and that is what I find interesting.”

She selects pieces on a gut feeling, sometimes saving them until an artist has a vision, as with a piece of walnut, carved into her favorite coffee table by Peyton Maas of Forged Woodworks in Springfield, Nebraska. The grand ladder gracing the entryway was salvaged from a demolished barn in the Omaha area. Others, such as a mid-century modern lounge chair bought at a garage sale for $5, were investments she sees as worth revamping.

“I grew up going to estate sales with my grandparents [and] my mom, and just finding these cool things,” Legenza says. “I just found that having meaning was better than having something new and pretty.”    

Three years of house hunting, two years of building, and future projects for the home have informed Legenza’s practice as a real estate agent.

“Going through the building [process] and the selling process of our first house [has] definitely given me a different perspective on how to tell people what to expect,” Legenza says.

Behind the walls and underneath the LVP are less glamorous but important aspects to consider in custom builds, according to Legenza.

“A lot of people don’t spend money on the better insulation and plumbing fixtures, and over time it is just going to cost you more money,” Legenza says. “It is definitely worth investing in that.” 

Location is vital in home-buying as well. After shopping around, Jon and Tara chose their lot for its size and the strong school system in the Bennington area.

“This kind of felt like [the] country at the time. It has since exploded, but it is definitely a small-town feel, and that’s what we liked,” says Legenza. “It feels like the iconic USA neighborhood.”


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

Tara Legenza's kitchen, horizontal

Living Room Staging

June 26, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Staging can turn a house into a home. It all starts with first impressions.

“Staging” is a real estate industry term that means preparing a home for viewings (in-person) and photography (for online for-sale listings).

When done right, the prep work helps prospective buyers to imagine themselves actually living at the property. Staging requires attention to interior design, furniture placement, decorations, lighting, and landscaping, among other factors.

You don’t have to be a professional designer to stage your home for sale. But if the task sounds laborious, there are professionals eager to accept your business.

Tara Legenza and Julie Radke are two independent stagers in the Omaha area. Speaking with OmahaHome, they share how they entered the field and reveal some of their staging secrets.

Legenza and Radke have both prepared living rooms as samples to showcase their passion for staging. When looking at Legenza’s design, notice how bookcases and coffee tables are kept clean and strategically balanced to consist of books and minimal decor that would suit most buyers. In Radke’s work, consider her careful use of color, accents, and furniture placement.


ReDefined Interiors By Tara

Tara Legenza

How did you become interested in staging homes?

I went to school for art but quickly found out I needed to make more money. I worked in corporate marketing for 10 years until I had my second child and quit. I wanted to have the work-life balance in a field that would call to the creative side I had suppressed all those years. After researching, I found that becoming a home stager and decorator would allow for this. Staging can be challenging at times, but seeing the homeowner’s face and appreciation when it sells quickly (and they’re in their new home) is worth it!

What is your secret to successful home staging? 

It’s really dependent on the homeowner being open-minded and not being offended when asked to box up their décor and personal mementos. Once a stager comes to the home, you have to think of yourself as already moved out. It’s no longer your home—it’s just a house. If a homeowner can get into this mindset, things come together quickly and are more successful and profitable for them.

Can you share any anecdotes from your staging work?

There was a retired couple—living behind Papillion-La Vista High School—who tried selling their home without staging it, but they did not have success. After taking the house off the market for a couple of months, they decided to hire me before putting it back on the market. They were anxious to move into their newly built home. After boxing up several collectibles from their travels, rearranging the furniture for a more open feel in the living room, family room, and dining room, and staging an empty room as a bedroom, we were able to put it on the market for more than they had originally asked just a few months prior. The home was on the market for a couple of days and sold for 3 percent more than the asking price in 2017.

 

Rate: $150 for two hours

Phone: 402-203-0270

Email: redefinedinteriorsbytara@gmail.com

Website: redefinedinteriorsbytara.com


Stage It! Home Staging and Redesign

Julie Radke

How did you become interested in staging homes?

While working my previous job in the real estate industry, I used to open new offices and design them. I soon discovered this was my passion. I am a visual person with ideation as one of my top strengths. Home staging allows me to use this talent every day.

What is your secret to successful home staging?

There are many factors that come into play with successful staging. The job calls for creativity and talent for design, but it also requires business savvy to maintain a warehouse of inventory while staying on top of billing and contracts. Also, day-to-day tasks need attention to detail; for example, being able to coordinate all aspects of individual jobs that range from booking trucks and movers to making sure everything is completed in accordance with the real estate agent’s timeline for listing. Changing direction quickly when things are challenging is key.

Can you share any anecdotes from your staging work?

One vacant property that I staged in the Aksarben area had been on the market for five months with no successful sale. After I provided the furniture and staged the main living area, kitchen, and master bedroom, the home received multiple offers and sold within one week in 2015. The homeowner benefited by having a better visual to market the property and compete with other staged homes in the area. The homeowner selling the property had already moved out of state and was making two house payments. They needed to move this property asap. Once staged, it sold above asking price quickly.

Rate: $100 per hour (occupied) with a two-hour minimum, additional costs associated with rental furnishings and accessories as needed; $800 and up (vacant) depending on size of home, number of rooms furnished, and rental needs.

Phone: 402-312-9229

Email: julier@stageitomaha.com

Website: stageitomaha.net


This article was printed in the May/June 2018 edition of OmahaHome.