vibe your business environment

There are lots of things I love about what I do. Close to the top of the list is the variety of environments I work in (someone once told me you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition – feel free to discuss).

Grab some coffee and take a seat so I can tell you about a particularly inspiring one – Lark Blow Dry Studio.

Owner Sara Slimp wanted to create a fresh, modern vibe that reflected her style and business philosophy. She was inspired by businesses on both coasts – Dreamdry in Los Angeles and drybar in New York City.

The first thing I do after my initial meeting with a new client is begin my research process. I ask myself, “Elizabeth – do you need to make structural changes to the space? What pieces will work in the new design, and where will you find them? What service partners will you need to create the overall vibe you’re going for?” (There I go with that preposition thing again.)

In this case, I headed east to check out Sara’s NYC inspiration and came back with a plan – a classic look featuring furniture pieces for each styling station and modern details in both the front desk and shampoo areas.

For me, the front counter – one of the first things you see when you enter the studio – sums up the place’s design vibe. In order to achieve it, I reached out to Dan Casey, who built the custom cabinetry, and Martin’s Countertops, the latest addition to our Modern Design Directory. The raised portion of the piece is an incredibly beautiful Soapstone, and the lower portions are topped with Carrera marble. The combination of the two surfaces is clean, classic, high end and timeless.

The cool thing is, you can check out my work the next time you need a blow dry.

A bit more about my peeps at Martin’s…the company was founded in 1980 by Richard (Dick) Martin and is currently run by the second generation of the family. They approach every job as if it were for their own personal use.

Hey, Martin’s – welcome to M.O.D.!

– EM


gettin’ techy with it

When it comes to technology, I have a split personality. There are days when I’d like to tune out, unplug and lose myself in a really great book (reading recommendations appreciated). And then there are days when I think it’s the coolest thing ever, like the day I started using Wecora. (They’re not paying me to say this, people – although they could if they wanted to.)

Remember the pre-cell phone days? It’s amazing that we got anything done, let alone in a timely manner. That’s how I feel about my new best friend. Here’s how they got me (this is straight from their web site):

“As a creative professional, your job is to think outside of the box. Wecora’s job is to help you share (and show) those thoughts without all of the additional work to do so.”

Below are some screen shots to give you an idea of how it works:

wecora3 wecora2


Gone are the days when I would print sheets for each product recommendation for a specific job. If it was an extensive remodel, I wound up with a binder full of printed images I couldn’t reuse because of changes in availability and pricing. (Gone also is the guilt from killing trees in the name of design.)

I use it to create boards for clients that feature potential products and finishes, including pricing information. The client is then invited via email to weigh in on my suggestions – liking or disliking items and adding comments. All the recommendations and communication are logged in one place…how handy is that?

If you’re old school, I’ll still make your design dreams come true without forcing you to use a computer. But if you’ve been afraid to try a project because you have a hard time keeping track of stuff, give me a call, and we’ll make you a Wecoran (I just made that up – trademark pending).

Until next time, I’ll be keeping an eye on design for you.

– EM






introducing m.o.d.

I know it’s not very “Nebraska” of me to say this, but I’m great at what I do. Part of it’s because I love it, part of it’s because I had great training via the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Interior Design/Interior Architecture Program, and part of it’s because I work with great resources and the people behind them.

I can’t tell you how important it is to have great resources at your disposal, especially if your passion is modern design and you work in the Cornhusker state (which I love, by the way, except for the recent license plate thing, but that’s another story). That got me thinking – why don’t I share these resources with you, along with other local people and places who get that it’s more than okay to think, live and love modern in the Midwest?

That’s the story behind the Modern Omaha Directory, or M.O.D. for short. I’m starting M.O.D. (which is free, by the way) to showcase local makers, movers and modern design shakers – resources you can enjoy and share with others.

Got someone or some place I should list on M.O.D.? Shoot an email with the particulars to If you send me a resource I end up listing, you’ll become a member of my M.O.D. Squad (perks to be announced later).

So, without further blathering, below is my first M.O.D. listing – Creative Concepts Custom Cabinetry, LLC.

dan casey
dan casey

Dan Casey launched Creative Concepts in 2012, which focuses on European style cabinets for residential and commercial projects. His vision is that ordinary is never acceptable. This is super important to a designer, because each client has different needs. A customer specific cabinet design can be a real problem solver.

I’ve worked with Dan on a number of projects over the years, and he’s become one of my go-to guys. He’s:

  • open to innovation
  • understands the importance of the most minute detail
  • gets the Midwest modern design vibe
  • is extremely respectful to clients and other contractors on the job
  • creates detailed CAD drawings before starting any project so everything can be planned accordingly

Clients are always blown away by the quality of Dan’s work, because he builds custom cabinets like they should be built – he doesn’t cut corners by using cheap materials (you get what you pay for, people).

Take a look:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hey, Dan – welcome to M.O.D.!

– EM

getting that designer look

“I can’t quite put my finger on it, but my home just doesn’t feel pulled together. Can you help?”

I get these calls a lot. Let’s face it, it’s hard to view your domicile with an objective eye. It’s the place you’re comfortable being naked in, the space that offers you refuge at the end of a craptacular day, the nest where you watch your squawking baby birds grow into happy, successful adults who eventually move out and catch their own worms.

Have no fear. We’re happy to pop over and brainstorm fixes that will make you eager to throw open your front door to family, friends and the occasional Girl Scout selling cookies.

May we suggest…

Undertaking a minor project with a major impact.

Changing out your light fixture can make a big impact without breaking your budget.
Changing out your light fixture can make a big impact without breaking your budget.

Think about painting a wall or adding a backsplash tile or changing a light fixture. One of my favorite minor projects is adding a small built-in feature like floating shelves or a window seat with storage. The latter is great for people with kids and grandkids who have tons of toys that end up everywhere they’re not supposed to be (playroom – ha!).

Hiding your little one’s stuff will open up your floor space and help create a calm environment. A window seat with large drawers will help you reclaim your room. When play time is over, scoop everything up and dump it into the drawers. Then fix yourself a martini, grab your laptop and pour over Pinterest while perched atop the toy booty.

Rearranging or repurposing existing items like furniture and accessories.

Identifying statement pieces that support your existing design.

This Bliss down-filled sofa will give you a statement piece as well as bliss.
This Bliss down-filled sofa from West Elm is a statement piece that will fill you with bliss.

Maybe you’ve got a large, empty room that’s got you stumped. We’d be happy to suggest a few key items that take it from “meh” to “meow!” by selecting some online examples for you to consider or shopping with you locally – as long as we can stop somewhere for coffee.  (We love to support local businesses!) Perhaps it’s a pair of killer side chairs and an accent table, or bookshelves and a game table, or a fabulous rug or a large grouping of art objects.

Assisting with seasonal decor and arranging.

We can help make your holiday less stressful by helping ready your home for guests.
We can make your holidays less stressful by helping you ready your home for guests and all the fa la la la la they bring.

Our homes are oftentimes the setting for large gatherings of family and friends, and we want the atmosphere to be just right, whatever the occasion. If you’re not a Martha Stewart-type, you might want some help, and that’s right up our chimney! We can take a look at your existing holiday decor, purchase a few new items and arrange your room so it looks like something you’d see in a magazine spread.

We might add something as simple as snowflake pillows or large groupings of candles with fake snow on them – you’d be amazed at what a difference in ambiance little touches can make. And, if you’re less stressed out with how your house looks, you’ll be able to enjoy the things that matter, like spending time with loved ones and making memories you’ll look back on when you’re old and crotchety.

Until next time, I’ll be keeping an eye on design for you.

– EM





take me for a test drive

You don’t have to be extravagantly wealthy to hire a designer (although if you are, my business line is 402.660.7703). I strongly suggest the following for any first-time clients out there: take your designer for a test drive.

You may be asking yourself at this point, “Was Elizabeth recently hit in the head with a piece of drywall?” Not at all – just think about the following:

If you’re about to begin a building or remodeling project, some of the things you’ll have to decide on up front are what finishes and fixtures you want. This may seem like a lot of fun (and it is) at first, but it can also be overwhelming once you start visiting showrooms (also fun, bring coffee and a friend and make a day of it) and see the number of options that exist in the universe.

Don’t panic, and don’t give in to second thoughts about your design sense. Instead, grab two or three samples for each item you need (flooring, tile, countertops, cabinet finish – you get the idea) that grab you, bookmark a few lighting and plumbing fixtures that caught your eye online, then call a designer and schedule an hourly consultation meeting.

If you do the initial legwork, that’s time your designer won’t have to spend pulling suggestions for you. He or she (ahem) can come to your house, review your selections and create a cohesive plan for your project. He or she can also help settle differences of opinion between couples or others with a say in how the project goes down.

Don’t worry if you don’t have options for every item you need at your initial meeting (maybe your brain simply shut down after 75 minutes of roaming through the carpet stacks). Once your plan is in place, it will be easier for you to go back and fill in the blanks, or you can ask your designer to go with you to pick out the last few items.

At the end of the day, your designer only bills you for a few hours of his/her time, and you’ve got a professionally designed space that reflects your design choices. More importantly, you’ve kept your sanity throughout the process so you can now enjoy what you’ve helped create.

Until next time, I’ll be keeping on eye on design for you.

– EM

what i do

If you’ve been following my blog since I started, I’m sure you can tell how much I love what I do.

What I’m not sure about is whether or not I’ve done a good job explaining how my design degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Interior Design/Interior Architecture Program influences how I approach each project and why it should matter to you.

So I’m going to tell you here, today.

Every interior space – we’re talkin’ bedroom, bathroom, mudroom, you name it – is made up of structural constraints and is designed for a specific use by us humans.

With each space I design, I start with its architectural elements – flow, function and form – and create a plan to maximize its success. Once the three Fs (think of them as the advance team) are hammered out, I introduce finishes, furniture and fixtures (think of them as the follow-up team) to enhance the beauty of the space for my clients in a way that reflects their unique design aesthetic.

That, my friends, is interior architecture-based design.

In contrast, an interior decorator isn’t involved with the design of a building or the layout of interior space. An article on has this take on the difference:

“He is focused entirely on the furniture, colors, textiles and textures of a room. His job is to capture the personality and style of the residents and express it in their space. A decorator doesn’t need any official training to adopt the title.”

The Council for Interior Design Qualification explains it like this:

“Interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behavior to create functional spaces within a building. Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.”

Am I throwing shade? No way – I’m just super passionate about what I do and how it can enhance life in your home.

I love discovering how people live (not in a creepy way – I don’t crawl through bushes and peek in client windows under the cover of darkness) and creating interior spaces that work for them in ways they never even imagined – ways that also happen to look and feel incredible.

Both remodels and new construction allow me to personalize innovative solutions for every client. Drills, dust and dumpsters filled with pieces of your home can be scary, but I’m here to get you through it.

I love a design challenge that really tests my skills, so I’m throwing it down right here – try me!

Until next time, I’ll be keeping an eye on design for you.

– EM




dog bowls matter

Believe it or not, dog bowls matter.

I mean, how could you spend your hard-earned cash creating a modern kitchen or dining room and then continue to feed your furry family member from a matching set of old Cool Whip containers?

Ask Dalilah, my design associate. If you’re going to carry something around in your mouth when it’s empty, it better look and feel right as well as hold food and water. Take a look at some of her favorites from our friends at Doca Pet and Obelisk Home.

Note the different heights. I’ve been told you can help prevent bloat by selecting a dog bowl at the proper height for your pooch. When Fido’s head is kept above his stomach, food travels more efficiently down the digestive tract, or so the story goes. (Please remember I have a design degree, not a DVM, so if in doubt, ask your vet.)

They’re like little pieces of modern art and may put your human dishes to shame (decorative accents help complete a room, but they’re often overlooked in terms of its overall design – don’t let it happen to you).

The next time you get ready to sit down for the family meal, set a place for your dog with one of these beauties – better he eats out of his own bowl than from your child’s hand underneath the dining table.

You’re welcome…