A Vision in BluesMar 01, 2022 10:00AM ● By Hannah Amrollahi
Photos by Bill Sitzmann & Sarah Lemke
Omaha retirees Janet and John Darst were ready for a change. After two decades in their home, the couple decided to renovate their Regency residence starting with the kitchen. Interior designer Linsey Lisowyj of Linsey Lisowyj Creative was brought on to advise on the project.
“It’s a snowball that rolls downhill,” Janet said of the remodeling process. “Everything else kind of fell into place when Linsey came.”
The Darsts built in a small gated community within Regency in 2000, incorporating an open floor plan, prominent windows, and high ceilings into their home’s design. Those features remain and are emphasized in the 2020 redesign, while the soft decor and most interior elements got a full makeover.
The remodel project won Lisowyj a Silver award at the 2021 American Society of Interior Designers, Nebraska/Iowa Chapter Awards, held in September.
“We pulled [the home interior] completely down to the bones and then moved some walls around,” Lisowyj said.
Some features were obviously outdated, including a deep, pull-out TV cabinet and five different floor coverings. Walls were moved to open up the laundry room and pantry, and a pony wall encasing the front-door entry was taken down.
“She was young, had new ideas and great suggestions,” Janet said of Lisowyj.
The new design further unifies the open floor plan. The engineered wood flooring and “all shades of blue” palette create cohesion, while area rugs, new furniture, and the angled layout define the individual rooms. Removing the hearth and mounting the TV above the new floor-to-ceiling fireplace altered the traditional, linear layout in the living room, allowing for flexible furniture arrangement.
Informed by their grown children’s minimalist leanings, the Darsts wanted to create a clean, yet comfortable, space for just the two of them.
“It was really important to me to reconfigure her [hidden] areas, too,” Lisowyj said. “Even the stuff you don’t see is important.”
Standing just over 5 feet tall, Janet had difficulty reaching shelves, high cabinets, and her window blinds. The remodel incorporated convenient motorized blinds and a more functional laundry room. A drop area in the back hallway creates a practical, classic nook.
“I wanted everything to be easy,” Janet said, “Easy to clean, easy to use.”
The ideas of tranquility and ease come together in the primary bathroom, flanked by his-and-hers closets. Cabinets painted to look new and a backsplash, along with a modern soaking tub and steam shower, create a home spa feel.
“When you are done, you feel like a wet noodle,” John said of bathing in the new tub. “It’s great for relaxing.”
The shower, installed by Cornerstone Plumbing, offers programmable water settings and self-dries for a no-squeegee-needed clean.
“To plumb this steam shower took a one-man band,” John said. “It looks like a computerized motherboard. It’s a work of art.”
Dark blue hues continue in the bedroom with flowing wallpaper. A mounted TV saves space, leaving room for a sitting area without crowding the room.
Rather than bring a particular style to a job, Lisowyj wants each project to reflect the clients.
“I am a design chameleon,” Lisowyj said. “I can appreciate all aesthetics. It’s a team approach.”
In the kitchen, a small table and two-person bar countertop with sink were replaced with a large marble-topped island that seats four. Appliances were relocated, and cabinet storage was added down low, creating uninterrupted views of the pine trees out the kitchen windows.
“Whether it’s grandkids needing somewhere to color, or if Janet wants to do some cooking, or in the morning when I have my breakfast and lay out the newspaper…it is such a luxury,” John said of the big island.
Above the island are two golden light fixtures that complement a draped pendant light above the stairwell. Their organic shapes soften the clean lines throughout the design.
“Lighting is art,” Lisowyj said. “When you find the right fixture for the space, you don’t need anything else.”
The main floor is anchored by two large, abstract paintings by Omaha artist Baily Mittermeier commissioned for the space, with textures and colors that pair well with the design.
The Darsts lived in the downstairs of their home during the remodel, and after choosing to continue with the project as COVID-19 bore down in March 2020, they had front-row seats to construction. When the flooring went in upstairs, the contractors paused to ask if the Darsts wanted heated flooring in the bathroom. It turned out they did.
“We learned there was a practical aspect” to always being on-site, John said. “If you see something, handle it immediately when it’s easy and cheap.”
L & L Custom Builders, owned by Eric and Joel Lakeman, were brought to the renovation project by Lisowyj.
“First you build a relationship,” Eric said, “then you build a project.”
With a day-to-day schedule for construction and proven subcontractors, the Darsts had “daily entertainment” observing the changes in real time.
“[The crew] were engaging, nice people,” John said. “Whatever we wanted, they made it happen.”
“Everyone was respectful of us being downstairs,” Janet added. “It makes me want to do it again and again because they made it so fun and easy.”
For now, the Darsts are enjoying the intimate, clean design of their new main floor.
“We said we both feel like we are living in a resort,” Janet said. “It kind of takes my breath away.”
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2022 issue of Omaha Home. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.