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Omaha Magazine

Birds of a Feather Sip Together

Apr 26, 2023 04:32PM ● By Veronica Wortman Ploetz

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

Kate Hemminghaus puts on a tea kettle inside her historic Dundee home. She and a friend arrange cups and snacks on a vintage tray she purchased from an antique vendor on Etsy. When the water is piping hot, they head upstairs to her peacock-themed tea room.

Hemminghaus’ artful curation transformed a small sitting room into a stylish salon for special company and meaningful conversation. The decor features a refined and curious collection, hand-picked by Hemminghaus from her favorite stores, estate sales, and antique dealers. Much like her guests and their conversations, the room accents are cherished and have backstories. While she’s acquired some firsthand, many of the furnishings are finds from another time. 

Upon entering the tea room, a Rifle Paper Co. mural of peacocks and botanicals catches the eye, spreading a dramatic plume of color across the wall. 

“I love peacocks and knew I wanted a room in my home to reflect that,” Hemminghaus said. “When I was a little girl, our family would go to the zoo, I would collect peacock feathers, bring them home and arrange them.” The appreciation for beauty and nostalgia drives Hemminghaus’ style choices. She reaches for one of two matching antique switch plates, turning on a blossom wall sconce and flush-mount overhead fixture cascading soft light through frosted glass petals. 
 The tea tray is set to rest upon a peacock-themed, brass-finished iron side table with a glass top. The lighting and table are from Anthropologie. 

 Tea for two is best enjoyed from the comfort of two memorable perches. An asymmetrical, triangular club swivel chair is one of the first pieces of real furniture Hemminghaus purchased from Elán Contemporary Furnishings as a young professional 20 years ago. An embroidered chair, designed by Paige Gemmel for Anthropologie, features a combination of animal and botanical appliques in exciting colors. Hemminghaus recalls it fondly as the first item she won by bid at a Pat Mapes estate sale. 

“Bidding at an estate sale is such a thrilling experience,” Hemminghaus said. “I really love this chair. I remember going back to check on it several times that weekend.” Mapes, a successful estate sale service provider in the Omaha area, confirmed, “There is always a lot of anticipation around one-of-a-kind items.” At any time, someone could offer to purchase a bidded item for full price, voiding any bids. “Truly unique items under bid can be lost, tears have been shed,” Mapes said. “I always try to help bidders with a strategy for success.”

Hemminghaus, now a posh grand millennial, has had a finger on the style pulse of Omaha since high school. She worked at the once locally famous clothing boutique, Post and Nickel. After a long run, the store closed, and Hemminghaus purchased two of the store’s stained glass windows. Natural light now filters through them into the tea room. A white antique dresser anchors the space, as well as a place in her memory. Hemminghaus recalls purchasing the dresser at one of the very first Junkstock events. It was pouring rain at the farm that weekend. Hemminghaus and the antique dealer literally pulled the dresser out of the mud and she hauled it home.  Atop the dresser are a collection of vintage trays, vases, and a framed peacock painting found on Facebook Marketplace. Hemminghaus knows a good room is never finished. 

“I am having fun and a little bit of heartburn, trying to find the perfect art deco, brass and glass, tea trolley with crystal detailed legs,” Hemminghaus said. “I’m willing to wait for the perfect one, and a great deal.”  

This article originally appeared in the May 2023 issue of Omaha Home magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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