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Omaha Magazine

Unifying the Outside with the Inside

Aug 12, 2016 12:18PM ● By Brianne Wilhelm, Allied ASID, D3 Interiors

When Joan Heistand began her search for the perfect place to call home in downtown Omaha, she came upon a 2,700-square-foot condo in the Paxton and saw potential in its open flow and natural light. She had already fallen in love with the Art Deco building and its residents when renting a smaller unit there, before she took the leap into ownership.

Heistand saw examples of my previous work in a national publication. After Heistand’s real estate agent gave a referral, she called me for help.

Our first visit to the condo revealed a unit broken into separate spaces that seemed choppy and disconnected, with random accent colors on the walls, poor lighting that caused terrible glare, inefficient storage, and seven different flooring materials. The condo included part of the exterior wall of the original historic building, with exposed brickwork and once-exterior windows.


This new home would be Heistand’s sanctuary, her place of comfort and security where she could host friends, neighbors, and family, including her four grown children and 12 grandchildren. Guided by her strong sense of what makes good design, she knew the “look” she wanted to achieve. On a mission to find the right balance of comfort and style that reflected her personality, Heistand and I embarked on a journey to bring her vision to life. The condo needed a breath of fresh air and a vibrancy to match its new owner and location in the heart of downtown.

We began by re-drawing the space and tearing out all of the existing flooring that was outdated and disjointed. We assigned each space a purpose and designed furniture layouts and finish selections that would suit the function of each new space. The homeowner fell in love with a large-scale, Italian-inspired tile. Using the same flooring throughout unifies the space; the light color and high polish adds brightness to make it feel larger. The contractor installed radiant heat coils underneath for maximum comfort. Silk and wool area rugs anchor the three separate living areas.

All of the can lights received new LED bulbs and trim packages, making them more seamless and efficient. Decorative fixtures were selected for maximum functionality and design impact. Table lighting, floor accent lighting, and task lighting in the kitchen and baths are additional layers of light that, when adjusted, can change the ambiance in the condo completely.

The conversation area just inside the entry has four armchairs encircling a cream ottoman and silky chocolate shag rug, positioned in front of a fireplace wrapped in white Quartzite ledgerstone panels. Here, the original exterior wall of windows is covered with silk drapes, providing a soft and luminous backdrop to the intimate seating arrangement. This is the perfect place for enjoying a glass of wine and conversation with friends. The adjacent room, with the original brick exterior wall exposed, is the cocktail and wine room with beautiful built-in cabinets and a black mirrored backsplash.

Transformations3The media lounge has a velvet sofa and storage ottoman facing a custom built-in media center. The third lounge area boasts a large custom sectional upholstered in a textured chocolate velvet, with silk and satin pillows, perfect for curling up with a book or magazine. The artwork in this space is a display of black and white portraits of the grandchildren in mirrored frames. 

The kitchen was already outfitted in high-gloss European cabinetry, but we installed new Cambria quartz countertops and a simple, modern glass backsplash. The pantry was completely redesigned, adding functional built-in storage, an ice machine, and a second refrigerator. A water system was installed to filter, soften, and condition the water. The den was transformed into a home office/guest bedroom for the grandkids, with two murphy beds that come out of the back wall. The master bedroom features a channeled leather headboard flanked by strips of hand-painted wallpaper and two elongated crystal pendants. The master bath was refreshed with new Cambria quartz surfaces and sinks. A new closet system was designed to house clothing, shoes, handbags, and accessories.

After many months of construction and installations, the resulting space is one with an incredible energy, filled with neutral palettes, sumptuous textures, a clean and modern aesthetic, interesting art, and countless objects that have become treasures. Visitors can expect a bottle of wine, lit candles, and songs by Andrea Bocelli in the background. But most of all, visitors can expect conversation about travel, grandchildren, and life’s experiences. OmahaHome