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Omaha Magazine

Holiday Over the Old Market

Dec 21, 2017 11:20AM ● By Kara Schweiss
Mary Jochim’s penthouse-level condominium in the A.K. Riley Building at 10th and Douglas streets boasts exceptional views of the Gene Leahy Mall and Old Market to the south and an unmatched eastern view of the riverfront, Heartland of America Park, and many notable historic buildings. The design scheme is amazing, too: Egyptian-influenced, with 25-foot-tall ceilings, and an art collection that includes works from regional artists Hal Holoun, Steve Joy, Wendy Bantam, and Susan Brasch displayed on the walls.

But during the Christmas holiday period, the home of Jochim (and her 4-pound teacup poodle, Mini-Me) transforms into a wonderland.

“I quite often joke that Jesus and I were born on the same day, different year. So Christmas is a special holiday, which it would be with or without my birthday,” Jochim says. “I never want to forget that Christmas is a sacred, religious holiday for Christians. It is a serious and joyous holiday.”

Jochim, a “very visual person” who “draws energy from my surroundings,” blends an energizing color palette into her holiday decorating. She festoons her living space with exquisite glass ornaments, wreaths and other greenery, ribbons, twinkling lights, and both small tabletop trees and their full-size counterparts.

The décor spans the 3,100 square feet of living space that includes three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a study, and a library, along with a large open-concept kitchen and dining area, living room, and formal dining room. It’s fortunate that Jochim has ample on-site storage space, because the decorating process takes up to three weeks even with the help of a volunteer or two.

“Christmas has evolved as my tastes have changed; I have added some each year as well as retired some decorations,” she says. “Because of my new home I’ve made quite a few more changes this year, many because of the beautiful view of the [Holiday Lights Festival at Gene Leahy Mall] Christmas lights from my two southern windows.”

The Riley building was erected in 1879 and a major renovation commenced a century later. The current owner is Pinnacle Bank.

“Certainly a lot of credit goes to Thomas Briccetti, former conductor of Omaha Symphony, and his wife, Billie Lee Mommer, who was an interior designer, for redeveloping this building,” Jochim says. “It takes a lot of good people, preservation-minded organizations, and business to prevent the demise of historic buildings.”

Jochim adds that she’s turned to two ASID-certified designers over the years to craft the look of both her home and office spaces: “I have depended on Julia Russell of Julia Russell Designs to modify and expand on the late Ruth Ann Davis’ work in my new home and office. Julia has done an amazing job.”

She has resided in the Riley building for less than two years, but Jochim’s home seamlessly accommodates her holiday hospitality.

“The expansiveness of the space allows me to do more than I could in a traditional home. With this space, the tall ceilings, exposed brick, and old beams make for a great space without doing a thing, or any credit due me. So with decorations and the holiday lights up and down the Leahy Mall, it can be jaw-dropping,” she says.

Jochim, who owns the investment advisory firm Sterling Financial Advisors, certainly enjoys the festive atmosphere from her home-based office during the workweek, but the atmosphere enthralls friends and family.

“Entertaining brings me great joy,” Jochim says. “Yes, I like to hear that people are a bit ‘wowed,’ but my goal is to set a mood for my guests to feel special, to feel the joy of the season. And yes, provide some of the wonderment we all probably had as kids.”

This article was printed in the November/December 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

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