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Omaha Magazine

A Grain of Salt

Oct 25, 2013 04:00PM ● By Katie Anderson
There was blue carpet everywhere.

It was hard to make out the precise shade of blue because any light that might have filtered into the tiny rooms of the house fought a losing battle with the home’s anachronistic velvet drapes.

Kristin and Michael DeKay didn't care. They could see enough.


“We walked in and I was just like, ‘Oh, man, we could open this wall up and it would be really nice,’” Kristin says. “I didn't even look at the carpet. I was just like, one, I bet there's wood floors underneath; two, we can paint everything. It was just a perfect 
little house.”

So perfect that the DeKays, who expected everything in the Morton Meadows neighborhood to be out of their reach, didn't look at any other houses before making an offer and closing the deal in 2009. The price was right, and there was enough cash left over for renovations.

Out went piles of wood paneling, ceiling fans, and every square inch of that blue carpet, which had protected but concealed shining hardwood floors.


For a couple like the DeKays, who frequently entertain, the 884 square feet that make up the main level of the smallish home on Poppleton Avenue could have been a problem.

So, too, went a pair of interior walls that chopped up the front half of the house, making way for a claw-legged Duncan Phyfe dining table.

“I know a lot of people these days don't want a dining room; they want an eat-in kitchen or a bar or whatever,” says Kristin who, along with Mike, is a co-founder of the local brand strategy and design company, Grain & Mortar. “I want to have family dinners and a big long table.”

To accommodate guests, Michael and Kristin made big choices, one of which was to define the living room with a tailored sectional sofa that seats ten, more if you get downright cheek-to-cheek chummy.

Conversely, other items were scaled down, like the compact, yellow-and-white library cart that serves as a bar. Even there, an oversized recipe for an Old Fashioned pokes fun at the idea of “appropriate” scale.


“Given this ugly little cart, it's like oh, man, no one wants that,” Kristin says. “I thought about painting it but I like the scuffs.”

The cart also offers a shorthand look at Kristin's point of view: sharply edited contents marshaled alongside whimsical decisions. In her living room, a $10 mail cubby with gouged paint plays home to glossy magazines and electronics, and holds a place of pride next to an aqua Ethan Allen wing chair.


That high-low look has an avid following on sites like Pinterest and Design Sponge, where the DeKay home has been featured.

"Our style is best described as warm and eclectic, without fuss,” explains Mike. “We do our best to not keep things around that we don't actually use. No one wants to live in a museum."

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