Sneak Peek: Kristin & Michael DeKay


Kristin and Michael DeKay purchased their home in the Morton Meadows neighborhood of Omaha, Nebraska, in September 2009. Four months later, Michael was laid off from his job, and the couple — in the midst of renovations — decided to start a company. Grain & Mortar is a brand strategy and design company that Kristin and Michael started with Eric Downs. Their remodel was put on hold for a while, but the sacrifice seems to have paid off — the work they do pushes the boundaries of design and technology to find fun and unique solutions, and their home is in great shape, too. As you’ll see below, “thrifted” is a popular theme in this house. It shows that creativity can go a long way and that you don’t need a lot to make a place homey and comfortable. Thanks, Kristin and Michael, and thanks to Daniel Müller for the photographs! — Anne

Image above: The kitchen is my favorite place in my home. I love my tall white cabinets. When we purchased the home, the floor was carpeted in a horrible blue and white tile-like print. We re-tiled it with 16 x 16 slate gray tiles with dark grout. The light fixture is from Ikea. The cast iron was a gift from my late mother-in-law, who greatly inspired me to cook and create fun things in the kitchen.

Image above: This is my favorite little corner of my living room, and I’m sitting here with a mug of hot tea as I write this. The side table was built by my grandfather and given to me as a wedding gift. He is an amazing woodworker. It even folds in half! The lamp is from Target, and the handmade basket was thrifted at The Imaginarium here in Omaha’s Benson neighborhood.

See more of Kristin & Michael’s Omaha home after the jump . . .

Image above: I love finding vintage kitchen tools, and I found the mixer at a garage sale for $4.95. I use it to make scratch cakes and whipped cream.

Image above: I love these crystal glasses on our thrifted yellow bar cart. I found six of them at a garage sale for only $2. When bringing them home, I broke one on the way into the house! Sad! Now I have five.

Image above: My husband created this typographic print as inspiration when we first went out on our own to start the business. It was a challenging time, but having little motivators like this around the house was helpful. The buffet was thrifted for $5, and I stained it a dark walnut. It holds holiday china, placemats and tablecloths. The typewriter was given to us by Michael’s grandmother.

Image above: I love this old mail cubby. I found it, again, thrifting and paid $10 for it. I considered painting or stripping and staining it, but I sorta fell in love with the rugged look of it, so here it sits, corralling random odds and ends. The photo was taken by me on a trip to San Diego, looking out over the harbor.

Image above: I have two of these teal Ethan Allen wing chairs, purchased on Craigslist. The pillow was sewn by yours truly, as well as the roman shades on the little window. The ottoman is from Target’s holiday collection. I think I will keep it here year-round.

Image above: Our bedroom consists of the entire upstairs, and we are lucky to have a bathroom up here, as well. When we moved in, it was carpeted, but we were fortunate enough to find beautiful condition original oak flooring underneath.

Image above: This little bookshelf serves double duty as a nightstand for our guest room. It was thrifted for $5, and has slim iron legs. The lamp was thrifted also, and I painted it a metallic gold.

Image above: This nook upstairs is another feature of my home that I love. It hosts our other Ethan Allen wing chair and is a cozy little area to read a book and watch the snow fall. The light fixture is from Ikea, and the curtains were sewn by me.

Image above: This print by our front door was a gift from my husband when we were dating. There are two little owls on the large branch if you look closely.

Image above: Our home was built in 1930. The people who lived here before us took great care of it and lived here for 45 years! I really don’t know what style our home is, so if anyone knows, I would love to find out. Bungalow, possibly?

Image above: Here’s me, looking out into my snow-covered backyard in my favorite room of the house.

Image above: Our kitty, Patches, queen of the castle. Sox doesn’t like photographers, or strangers of any sort, so he isn’t pictured!

  1. Stef Monge says:

    Great house & photos! Thrift store finds are the best.

  2. Kate says:

    That kitty is so cute!!!! I love all the nooks in the house. But I really love that kitty!!!!

  3. Shauna says:

    Really nicely done! I’d love to know where the chevron throw-pillow fabric came from…?

  4. Jexa Misegadis says:

    Beautiful home, Mills!!

  5. Amy says:

    Love, love, LOVE the upstairs reading nook, and the fabulous wingback chairs!! You’ve made a beautiful home! :)

  6. @shauna Thank you! The chevron fabric came from Hancock Fabrics actually, and it’s an outdoor fabric. Still works well for pillows.

  7. David Hovik says:

    super cool cuz!!

  8. Nancy D says:

    Just love your midwestern sensibility and Nebraska graciousness. Your home exudes both. Thanks for the sneak peak.

  9. Such a beautiful, cozy home.The floors are beautiful – both the hardwood & tile.

  10. Leigh says:

    My husband and I live in Omaha, too, and our house was also built in the 30s and sold to us by a woman who’d lived there for 50 years! Omaha is a fabulous city for affordable, beautiful homes and great thrifting. Your house is gorgeous!

  11. I am so envious of your upstairs bed/bath, and especially of the reading nook! That looks like the perfect place to escape to, especially on a dreary day like today.

  12. lani says:

    I LOVE your home (outside and in!). I admire your thrifted treasures — what great buying, aesthetically and financially speaking. Your home inspires me to know that I can create a lovely, unique home even on my budget.

  13. Natalie says:

    I really love that fresh bouncy green used in the kitchen. Would love to know what it is.

  14. Jenine says:

    I love your stony grey walls. Right now I’m mid-process on choosing a paint for my living room, and I’m really attracted to this color. Would you mind revealing what color/company this is? There is one issue for me, though– I live in Seattle and I have a phobia about light-eating colors. Does this color ever feel too dark to you? Anyone with grey walls have any advice or thoughts? I’d love to know what you think.

  15. Angeline says:

    I love this house tour, thank Kristin’s hairstyle, too! :)

  16. Ainee Beland says:

    It is your humble home and nothing else should matter but this one factor. It is lovely and you are fortunate and know this already to being true. Thank you for sharing!

  17. Thank you, everyone, for your lovely comments! I so enjoy my home :)

  18. @Leigh That’s awesome! I love Omaha’s established neighborhoods. We are probably neighbors!

  19. @Natalie The green in the kitchen is actually from Ace Hardware (their store brand), and the name is Summer Interlude, number B31-5. Hope that helps! I love it because it is not to overwhelming, and green in the kitchen just seems right.

  20. @Jenine Thanks! I love the grey walls too. Actually, mine have a bit of a blueish tint to them, so they are not a true grey. I prefer it that way, it feels a little lighter. In Omaha, we definitely have our cloudy days as well, and a looong winter, so at first I was concerned too. After it was on the walls, I loved it though, and it provides a great backdrop for more colorful accessories. The color is from Ace Hardware’s store brand, and is called “Wisp of Smoke,” number D44-1.

  21. @Angeline You are too sweet. Most days, my hair gets the best of me. :)

  22. Charlotte says:

    The style of your home looks like a transitional version of Tudor Revival. Mine is the same… same era, same style. Great house!

  23. cathy says:

    Really great house–so many cozy spots!
    The house is probably Minimal Traditional, an architectural style that came out of the Depression. It’s basically minimal decoration on a traditional shape. In the case of your house, the decorative touches–like the stonework around the door–draw from Tudor Revival. The way you know it isn’t strictly Tudor Revival is that your roofline isn’t particularly steep, and your gables are more like equilateral triangles. If you can get a photo of the house that’s close to the construction date (tax card photos are good), you may be able to see if the house has been altered. There are some good images of Minimal Traditional if you google it. Also some interesting descriptions. It was actually considered pretty modern not to have all the “fussy” details!

  24. Bri says:

    beautiful house and decor! the style of the house is “min trad,” or minimal traditional.

  25. Cara says:

    I love this house and I love Omaha!
    My fiance’ lives there and I live in a large Canadian city where he’d prefer to live once we’re married.
    Maybe you can invite him over and show him how great it can be to live there! :-)
    Beautiful home…

  26. What a gorgeous tour.. I’m always delighted with this simple, fresh but cosy houses.
    And I noticed the little detail of the table lamp on the corner of the living room.. That base reminds me of the Beehives and I remember seeing something similar on a dining table with inspiration on the royalty of the bees, (APIS –

  27. Thank you @cathy & @bri for the info, that is so helpful! I am going to try to get a photo, I would love to see what it looked like back in the day.

  28. @Cara Thank you! I love Omaha as well. It is a really great city with an emergine creative and startup culture. Move here! :)

  29. Nancy Winings says:

    I love, love, love (did I say love?) what you’ve done with your house. The green is perfect, and you have such super ideas. Congratulations!! If you come this direction, talk to me about those wingback chairs!

  30. Cara says:

    Lobbying hard Kristin! Sending the link to your place might just tip the balance :-)

  31. Julia says:

    Love your house!! It does look like a bungalow to me (story and a half?) I just bought a 1942 bungalow in metro Detroit and it has a similar upstairs with the slanted ceiling (half story). So yes, I would say yours is a bungalow. It’s soo soo cute! :)

  32. Dave Nelson says:

    I love it! Great house, you guys!

  33. Robyn says:

    OMG! I am so excited to see a house tour in Omaha, especially Morton Meadows. I was born and raised in Omaha, and think it is severely underrated. Love the house!

  34. Butterloo says:

    I live quite near you! How wonderful to see an Omaha home. I love the abundance of fun thrift stores here and the amazing older homes. Mine is from 1925 and I am only the 4th to own it. You’ve done a wonderful job with your home.

  35. Blair says:

    I’m from Omaha and I love the Benson neighborhood. I’ve lived in Dundee my whole life and so naturally I am in love with older homes with a whole bunch of charm. I love all the unique touches you put into your home and of course I love the kitty. I can’t wait until I have a home as beautiful as yours!

  36. Vanessa says:

    The details of this home are well done and give such a warm and inviting feel. The upstairs bedroom nook is my favorite little room!

  37. Laurie says:

    I was crusing Pinterest reading nooks and thought ‘huh, I know that nook!!’


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