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Omaha Magazine

Crafting Made Easy: The McCrery’s Dundee Basement Remodel

May 27, 2020 10:36AM ● By Katy Spratte Joyce

The basement of one home in Dundee took more than 100 years to properly finish.

The Mediterranean-inspired Dundee charmer, built in 1914, was purchased in 2016 by a pair of physicians, Becky and Dave McCrery. Their three daughters—Ellen, Cecilia, and Julia—and beloved Maltipoo Olaf round out the family. 

For the 2018 renovation—a large-scale project that reshaped the entire 2,000 square foot basement—Becky McCrery worked with interior designer Jacque Christensen, then of Aaron Carlson Design. Today, Jacque is the owner and lead designer of her own firm, Jacque Christensen Design.

The pair worked incredibly well together, perhaps partially because Christensen lives in a lovely old Dundee home herself, making her an ideal steward for the McCrery project. The designer expanded, “There’s nothing more offensive to an old, grand, beautiful house than putting something new and trendy in it.” Christensen balances the modern application and new use of space with honoring the history and character of old structures. In fact, she married the two thoughts in taking the homeowners’ recently unearthed original house blueprints and framing them as new artwork in the finished McCrery basement. 

McCrery was excited to “dive right in” to this first big house project, adding that “it was a really rough basement” with minimal finish. And after renovating the basement in their previous home with great results, McCrery knew it made sense to complete the project while the kids were young so they might enjoy it for many years. Christensen gave credit to McCrery for giving her total creative freedom.

While the entire lower level was gutted and remodeled—even requiring a structural engineer to remove weight-bearing walls—perhaps the most interesting of the completed spaces is the young girls’ craft room, designed as a cozy and functional spot for arts and crafts. What was already a popular destination for games and puzzles has transitioned into an even more vital getaway during these unprecedented pandemic times when the family is always home. 

In an odd twist, the craft room occupies a former nook utilized by the previous owners as a sort of DIY wine cellar, complete with numerous cedar wine shelves for bottle storage. That adults-only area has ironically made for the perfect kid-centric room.   


Unique touches like vintage Penguin Classics book covers wallpaper from Osborne & Little add a playful backdrop for a now-beloved area. Its youthful vibe is complemented by a fun Currey & Company light fixture. While quirky design elements add charm to the space, it’s function that reigns supreme. Built-ins provide optimal storage without sacrificing aesthetics, and custom pillows and a bench cushion from local creator Wendy Monbouquette make the space comfortable for long days of creative fun.

The adjacent large living room and kitchenette serve as a gathering place for the entire family. They love their mini kitchen with two beverage fridges—one for the girls’ sodas and the other for wine. A sink, plenty of counter space, and dishwasher make the space perfect for entertaining. The addition of a microwave makes family movie night even tastier with popcorn just a few steps away. It’s clear that the McCrerys will be enjoying their family-friendly basement for years to come. 

This article was printed in the June 2020 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.