This Omaha House Used to Look Like Liberace Lived There; Now It’s an “Experimental Laboratory” for Design

Omaha’s Regency neighborhood is a Midwestern enclave dotted with parks and gracious homes set on wide, tree-lined boulevards. But within this tranquility lies a singular and eclectic residence, an ode to color and pattern designed by the homeowners themselves—married couple Mark and Mikal Eckstrom. They opened their AD PRO Directory design firm, Studio Eckstrom, last year, when Mark left his corporate sales and marketing career for a new venture fueled by his creative passion. (He also grew up assisting his mother, interior designer Dorothy Eckstrom, and studied architecture at the University of Nebraska.)

After years of living in New York City, Mark moved back to Omaha in 2013 to be closer to family, while Mikal moved to Nebraska from the East Coast to pursue a PhD in Indigenous history at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. They had found the home, originally built in the 1970s, about a decade ago through a family friend—a local realtor who knew the fabric of the city.

“It was built in 1978 as a two-bedroom home, and the bones were great,” says Mark. “It had generous room scale, tall ceilings and doors, fine moldings, and brick-walled courtyards.” The drawback? “The interior looked as if Liberace had decorated it: pink marble, crystal chandeliers in every room, silk moire upholstered walls, and flock wallpaper. We kept the footprint but took most walls and floors down to the studs.” And while the Eckstroms have lived in the pared-back house for over a decade, they recently reimagined the interiors to its current colorful iteration. “Like many designers, we use our own home as an experimental laboratory of sorts,” says Mark.

As their house makes clear, the Eckstroms are strong proponents of graphic patterns and a layered aesthetic. “For every project, we strive to create a rhythm of repeated forms and textures that tell a compelling story from every sightline,” explains Mark. “Each piece—be it furniture or art—must contribute to the visual conversation.” So it follows that the artwork and the vintage items they have collected over the years plays a vital role in the couple’s design style, telling a highly personal story of their lives.

When Mark lived in New York City during the 1990s and aughts, he used to haunt the Chelsea flea markets. The Venini Murano glass chandelier—which now hangs in the drawing room—was found in a box wrapped in newspapers from the ’60s. And the panel behind the sofa is a salvaged door of plaster and wood found in Milan. “In my NYC apartment, it served as a headboard behind a queen bed. Here in Omaha, it’s a focal point in the drawing room behind a vintage Vladimir Kagan sectional sofa,” he says.

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