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Omaha Magazine

Sitting Pretty In Gifford Park

Oct 21, 2023 06:06PM ● By Chris Wolfgang
Sitting Pretty in Gifford Park.

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

Bathroom Remodel [5 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
"The sink was kind of the beginning of it all,” said Nicole Schermerhorn.

To develop a vision for an en suite addition to their circa-1900 four-square in Gifford Park, Schermerhorn and Frank Troia searched through A&R Salvage at the advice of Jessica McKay from Birdhouse Design Studio. 

“Jessica told us to go look around there and get a feel for what we liked,” Schermerhorn said. “I don’t want to say necessarily that we were trying to be as sustainable as possible, but we like older stuff. And then Jessica built the rest around it.”

The porcelain and chrome sink, like much of the rest of the bathroom, is arresting. Unmistakably retro, it’s…blue? Teal?

“Sea foam green,” Schermerhorn suggested.

“She’s an art teacher,” Troia added with a smile at the precise description of hue.

Color is obviously a strong theme, from the en suite’s petal-pink, mirrored French doors (also from A&R) to the shower’s grass-green tile. The latter isn’t a perfect match for the sink, but it’s also not a huge contrast. “We wanted everything to blend together without being so matchy,” Schermerhorn explained. “I have a problem with that, but Jessica has tried to help me get away from it.”

“She has a very Bohemian style,” McKay said. “They don’t play safe.”

Schermerhorn and Troia had been living in Gifford Park for a while before they purchased the four-square in 2019. “We really wanted to buy a house here,” Troia said, “but we originally passed on this one, partly because of the small bathroom.”

“No AC, either,” Schermerhorn recalled.

However, after they were outbid on three other homes, their real estate agent, Rusty Johnson from Insight Omaha Real Estate Group, helped them see the potential.

“The previous homeowner had taken out a wall here,” Troia indicated, gesturing to where the en suite separates the main bedroom. “So we just had this absolutely huge master room.” A small, rather dark bathroom with no storage down the hall served as the home’s main bath.

“There is another bathroom on the third level,” Troia said, “but we don’t do much there.”

“Except foster kittens for Felius Cat Café & Rescue,” Schermerhorn pointed out. 

 Schermerhorn and Troia are child-free, so the idea of a spacious, bright en suite held more appeal than replacing the small bedroom that had been removed. And it’s not as though the house is lacking for accommodations; they each have their own office, and there’s still a room for guests (when it’s not occupied by kittens).

“So four bedrooms already,” Troia counted. “Maybe five?”

“Oh, yeah. There’s a weird little room where I do puzzles,” Schermerhorn said. “But I don’t even think you can even fit a bed in it.”

Over the course of six months, McKay helped Schermerhorn and Troia reclaim the north end of the huge bedroom for some personal TLC while staying true to the historic qualities of the house. Above the en suite’s doors, Marten Construction mimicked the unique peaked trim that a previous owner had carefully refurbished throughout the rest of the house.

“Shout-out to them,” McKay said of Marten, a firm she uses regularly in her designs. “It’s never fun to use the old stuff, and this needed a lot of architectural salvage. We had to move a 100-year-old radiator, and you always have to problem-solve along the way when you start opening up walls.”

The removal of the radiator was some cause for concern. The new bathroom has two exterior walls, the existing windows were large and old, and Nebraska’s winters are infamously unforgiving. “So we have a heated floor,” Schermerhorn says. “It sounds bougie, but we kind of needed to do something after taking that out.”

Café-style curtains from Among Other Things add some small extra insulation while keeping the bright natural light that Schermerhorn and Troia—and their many houseplants—love.

Colorful focal points. Space for plants. And a tub deep enough for soaking. Clearly, modern luxury pairs perfectly with century-old elegance in Gifford Park. 

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