Tag Archives: Wallpaper

Colonial Expansion in Loveland

October 1, 2016 by
Photography by Dana Damewood

On the edge of the Loveland neighborhood stood a modest colonial house. When it was built in 1940, the home had a mere 1,320 square feet. When the Ahlers family bought the home in 2009, they made big plans to overhaul the colonial beauty.

transformations7The Ahlers underwent a 2,600-square-foot addition to make space for their growing family. They enlisted my help with the renovations.

In the Ahlers’ home, it was important to keep the charm of the original colonial style while subtly incorporating modern amenities. I began the four-year renovation process with one goal in mind: “Make the spaces usable, livable, comfortable, and beautiful to the unique needs of the family using this home.” Striving to keep the home’s original design in line with the new addition resulted in some uniquely shaped spaces that were unlike modern counterparts of contemporary construction. My expertise in space planning and construction would bring sense and structure to furnishing otherwise awkward spaces. As a result, I custom-designed many of the furniture pieces exclusively for these rooms.

transformations6

One of these challenging spaces was affectionately nicknamed the “big empty room.” In the beginning, there was literally nothing in the space other than two dog beds and a child’s trike with plenty of room to ride. Our goal for the space was to create an area where the family could read books together, watch a movie, work from home, or gather with friends and family. I got to work designing the multi-functional space—beginning with wall-to-wall bookshelves nodding to the colonial feel of a traditional home library. The bookshelves were painted dark gray to keep the look updated. Natural grass cloth wallpaper softens the walls, bringing texture and warmth, while bold patterns mix with a contemporary color palette of navy and tangerine to keep the room fresh and modern. The custom draperies diffuse the bright afternoon light, and the wool carpet tiles (perfect for pets) bring cohesiveness to the room. The various furniture groupings allow for many different activities to take place in this versatile space, and now their young son enjoys reading in the room and saves the trike riding for outdoors.

transformations8In the master bedroom, the look is traditional with a fresh color palette. Neutral linen fabrics with a soft damask pattern adorn the bed, while custom draperies in a bright grass-green color, along with black-and-white accents, liven the neutral color palette. I created a small seating area for watching morning cartoons and designed a custom kennel table for the unique use of the space for the family. Finally, what traditional master bedroom would be complete without an en suite bathroom boasting a custom claw-footed bathtub, crystal chandelier, classic black-and-white plaid wallpaper, and puddling green linen drapes?

The kitchen plays center field with honed marble countertops, custom white cabinetry, and an intimate fireplace. A challenge in the kitchen was where to share meals. The narrow footprint was another area where I customized the space for the needs of the family. The light in the morning is truly fantastic in this room. To capture that light and inspire family meals, I designed a narrow dining table stained in a deep black hue, which could take a beating and accommodate the dinette area. The result is a family-style area with room for eight.

There is a cohesiveness in this house that is anchored by the family’s deep-rooted East Coast ties, flair for subtle modernity, and interest in creating family tradition. This house reflects those qualities for this family, and I couldn’t be happier to help create this way of living for them.

Visit asid-neia.org for more information. OmahaHome

*Correction: The printed version incorrectly identified Paul Pikorski of Amoura Productions as the photographer.

 

Paula and Jim Wilson

July 31, 2015 by
Photography by Colin Conces

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.

Architectural Archeology

April 22, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When it comes to gaining knowledge about a home’s heritage, the process of addition may sometimes come by way of subtraction.

Some years ago we decided that the wallpaper in our home’s tiny upstairs powder room had to go. When we bought the 1946 house in the same year that The Big Chill was released, the colorful wall covering in this space was a still oh-so-smart Marimekko-style pattern. After looking at it for more than a couple decades, we (that would more accurately be as in my wife, Julie) decided that any hint of “smart” had long since evaporated.

Removing the wallpaper became an exercise in revealing the history of our home and the people who once lived there.

The first occupants of our home were Jewish, just like so many of the original inhabitants up and down the block situated only a short walk from the then Beth Israel Synagogue. The name on the deed was a telltale sign, but the mezuzah guarding the front door (Hebrew verses from the Torah printed on a parchment housed in a decorative case) left no room for doubt as to the faith previously practiced in our home.

The excavation effort exposed a collection of old-time decals, the kind that had to be moistened for application. The sticky little relics on a field of classic ’50s paint (I call the hue Pink Cadillac) told us quite a lot about the family’s children and the arc of their formative years.

I now know, for example, that they attended Central High School before at least one went on to Bradley University, whose culturally insensitive Indian caricature mascot shown here was, not surprisingly, ditched years ago. And did the Bradley-bound member of the household later pledge, as another decal suggests, to Sigma Delta Tau sorority?

Vestiges of the family’s faith live on in three of the images. Both the Mo.V.F.T.Y. (which I have since learned stands for Missouri Valley Federation of Temple Youth) and the Conestoga wagon decals refer to B’nai B’rith-sponsored youth groups. And the “Mother Chapter” Star of David insignia points to Aleph Zadik Aleph, a boys’ fraternity founded in Omaha in 1923. This one was the toughest to research. I was very close, it turned out, in guessing that the letters made up the moniker of a frat or sorority, but my online searching turned up zilch. It took a chat with Alan Potash of the Jewish Federation of Omaha to get me thinking Hebrew instead of Greek to unlock this puzzle.

And as for the sole noggin’-scratcher; the Blackhawk decal? No clue.

Funny thing is, the accompanying photograph is not an archival view. This is how the powder room looks to this very day, several years after our discovery. Against Julie’s gentle objections, I just can’t bring myself to destroy these hieroglyphic echoes of the past.

That, after all, would be like erasing history.

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