Elizabeth Gamm's Brady Bunch Dilemma
Apr 25, 2019 04:31PM
By Kara Schweiss
It’s fitting, though unintentional, that Elizabeth Gamm’s description of her home pre-renovation—“Wallpaper, wallpaper, wallpaper!”—evokes the archetypal line “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” from The Brady Bunch. The ranch-style home was built in 1973, and when Chris and Elizabeth Gamm purchased it in 2017, it looked like a relic from that ’70s TV show.
“There was wallpaper on the walls, ceilings, everywhere,” Gamm says. “It was very dated.”
As outmoded as the finishes and décor were, the couple could see that the Regency-area home also had some midcentury modern charm (like a large, ’70s-style dressing room) and great potential.
“It has a lot of unique angles and features. It has all of these crazy vaulted ceilings in every room and some really cool geometric shapes and angles,” Gamm says. “There’s an outdoor courtyard placed in the center of the home with everything else built around that, so it has glass on all four sides and two sliding doors where you can access the courtyard.”
The couple waited to move in until the later stages of the renovation, so interior work proceeded rapidly and efficiently. “We revamped everything,” Gamm says. They removed most of the wallpaper, painted, placed new baseboards, installed engineered hardwood floors in a whitewashed/pickled finish, added a powder room, and gutted and reconfigured the kitchen.
The original narrow kitchen layout was visually unbalanced and ergonomically challenging, Gamm says. “It was an awkward kitchen to lay out. So, we opened up a wall going into the main living room space, and then we shifted everything around and created a long island in the middle. We actually reused the original wood kitchen cabinets; they had a nice, simple design to them,” she says. “And then we added a pass-through window to the outside, kind of a service window.”
The courtyard then became perfect for warm-weather entertaining with outdoor seating, a bubbling rock fountain, and twinkle lights.
Except for new paint, the exterior of the home was left mostly alone, Gamm says, although some exposed beams were replaced in cedar and a few cedar accents were incorporated “to tie everything together.”
In a deliberate departure from currently popular gray interiors, “we used a lot of whites, linens, and oatmeals, a soft and relaxing palette,” Gamm says. “I incorporated a little black, because there is a lot of original black slate we kept in the home.”
Gamm, a regional sales manager for Sark Tile, also embraced some trends from her industry.
“Patterned [encaustic] tile is really popular right now. We have a feature wall in the powder room that is encaustic. We used a white herringbone in a few spaces,” she says. “We used a lot of Carrara marble, a very classic yet modern finish. We used some hexagon [tiling], which is also a throwback that’s modern at the same time.”
Gamm says she’s glad contractor Raul Meza was flexible with the construction elements.
“It was a little bit of ‘design on the fly.’ In the end, everything coordinated nicely and came together,” she says. “People have told us they feel like they’re on vacation; the airiness of the home reminds them of resorts they’ve been to. I get a ‘beachy’ feel from it.”
And there was one big surprise.
“We actually kept some original seagrass wallpaper. Can you believe it?” Gamm says. “The colors add a little warmth into the room, and it anchors the main wall of living room. It actually goes up onto the angled ceiling. It flanks the back wall nicely.”
Visit sarktile.com for more information about the homeowners’ tile choices.This article was printed in the May 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.