A Tale of Two Homeowners
Dec 25, 2012 02:38PM
By Bailey Hemphill
This reveal/conceal dichotomy plays out from the first moment inside the foyer. To the left is the Sing’s bright living room and dining area with its floor-to-ceiling fenestration that allows the room to capture and somehow magnify even the most elusive beam of light.
Straight ahead is a corridor flanked by closets, tall and long and limitless.
To the right is another airy room, but this one features a desk that can be hidden…in fact, the very same desk that once belonged to the architect and original owner of the home, Don Polsky.
Peekaboo shoji screen pocket doors separate the two rooms. Polsky, who once worked in the design studio of famed “California-style” architect, Richard Neutra, was a man of his time. And his time was all about clever storage solutions and walls that seemed to float.
But the Sings' home is more than the sum of its partitions. It's an actual home, built for an actual family. First Polsky’s, now the Sings. The couple serve off their buffet made with original marble from Clarkson Hospital. They store their kitchen items in St. Charles cabinets, such a Mid-Century staple that Frank Lloyd Wright used them at Falling Water and Mies van der Rohe installed them at Farnsworth House. Linda does her makeup in a vanity that lifts up from a room-length credenza...just like a scene from Mad Men. Only when she’s finished prepping her look, Linda typically rushes off to her job as a radiologist, not lunch with the girls.
“Of course, we have to be respectful with anything we do to the house,” Linda says of the updates they’ve made, including replacing all the carpet and renovating a bathroom. “But we can’t live in a museum.”
It’s a sentiment with which Polsky seems to resoundingly agree. When the couple fell in love with the house and decided to buy, Linda and Travis looked him up (there had been one owner in between). The three became fast friends. The architect even attended the home closing and told stories: here was the flower wallpaper his daughter put up in the ‘70s…there, in the back, is Beverly, the tree. The Sings keep an Omaha World-Herald article from that era, featuring a photo of Polsky’s wife and daughter staged in the very familiar-looking living room.
One of Polsky’s enduring legacies is the enormous map of the world in the main corridor, an homage to his days stationed in the Atlas Mountains with the Army Corps of Engineers. It's remarkably well-preserved thanks to Travis who, as a historian, endeavors to be archivally sound about gluing any fraying bits down.
“When we have get-togethers, the hall gets jammed because everyone’s looking at the map,” Travis laughs. “Everyone comments on how things have changed, where they’ve been, where they want to go.”
On a facing wall is an original pencil drawing of the home that Polsky gave the Sings last summer. Those few simple lines on paper offer the same comment about the home.