I spoke to a college class last week about Birdhouse and COOP and my vision for both. At first I didn’t really know what to say, but as the students asked more questions, I realized I was consistently telling a story. The story of what I care about.
I care about exposing people to original art. I care about designing with vintage pieces full of history and character. I care about working with local makers and not taking myself too seriously. Those have been my guiding principles for the last five and a half years, in business and in my personal life.
When my friends at hutch were looking to scale their furniture store in a similar manner, with similar principles, it made a lot of sense for us to figure out how to continue to collaborate with each other.
Previously, hutch had exclusively been a vintage furniture store. Now they wanted to expand their offerings to include new, contemporary pieces and work with a lot of the local makers that Birdhouse has partnered with over the years. It sounded like a great opportunity for Omaha to have a highly curated and design-focused store. So when they approached us to stylize the individual room vignettes, mixing and layering pieces to create a more intimate and homey feel, we were game for the challenge.
After a lot of work and a lot of planning, hutch finally opened their doors a few weeks ago, and I’m excited about the feedback the shop has gotten so far from our city.
The first complete room vignette as you enter the space. Accessorized shelves line the opposite wall.
The space flows from one room vignette to the next, a layout that navigates people naturally throughout the store. Brandon and Nick (hutch fellas) were very cognizant of the need for that natural guidance. They also wanted us to alternate the functionality of the vignettes from living room to dining room and so on.
A particular challenge for me were several walls of shelves throughout the store that showcase loads of accessories. Ginger helped a hutch employee with all the visual merchandising. They killed it, thankfully. Before they got on it, I was just standing at those shelves like, “Huh?” Note to self: Merchandising is very different from styling.
A combined living room and dining room vignette featuring Gus Modern furniture, a media cabinet by local furniture designer Roost Artisan Home, handmade table lamp from Roger + Chris, and art pieces by Nicholas Bohac, Kim Darling, and Sarah Rowe.
The room vignette that guests pass through at the front of the store. (You can barely see the door to my office back by the exit sign.)
Though I’m incredibly excited about the end results, there were a few challenges to this job. The retail floor space is close to 4,000 square feet. That’s big, and at times it felt overwhelming. I also didn’t source any of the furniture or accessories. Basically, I had to take a giant box with pre-selected pieces and put a crazy puzzle together. Holy buckets! That was not easy. But I think it honed my skills substantially and forced me to trust my gut more.
A complete blank slate to start out with at hutch.
Sooooo much empty space to fill!
I did help curate some of the original art in the space. These limited edition prints are by local artist Matt Carlson.
Nicholas Bohac art, Kartel pendant light and table lamp. Vintage Bertoia chairs.
The vignette as you circle to the back of the store.
A group of Peter Cales ceramic and wood balloons hang from the ceiling in a large area in the back of the shop.
Kim Darling art
Looking ahead, the fellas at hutch and I realized that it would be fun to designate one room vignette where Birdhouse will receive complete creative control. hutch carries some really great lines of furniture and accessories, and we’ll have access to new arrivals before they’re even on the showroom floor. I’ll be like a kid in a candy store: free reign to cherry pick all my favorites and put together a showstopper room!
Along with stylizing the store vignettes, Birdhouse has a small studio office housed within hutch. We collaborate on events often, and I source a fair amount of their pieces, so I love that my clients can get a peek at them in-house. However, we aren’t their in-house designer — we’re more similar to a co-op of sorts. By piggybacking our services onto one another, we can continue to inspire and challenge each other to give Omaha an amazing resource for furniture, art and design.
All photos by Dana Damewood Photography.