Editor's note: This story was originally published in the January/February 2011 issue of Inspired Living Omaha magazine, but the town house was photographed in 2010.
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As a clinical psychologist and organizational consultant, Roger Fransecky regularly talks to people about reinventing themselves. After the sudden death of his wife, Nancy, in 2008, he found himself needing to do just that.
The couple’s former home, a multistory in west Omaha, was too big and too full of memories for him to continue living there, he says.
Because he had lived in several large cities – including New York – he found himself attracted to Omaha’s Riverfront Place town houses near the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.
“I realized professionally what I needed to do in this space,” says Fransecky, who is also founder of the Apogee Group, a global management consulting and leadership development organization.
While he wanted to surround himself with memories of his wife and their children, he also realized a need to step fully into his life without her.
“He needed some guidance because he had been living as a married man for so long,” says Susie Smoler, the interior designer who helped Fransecky create his new space. “I actually think he was really wanting to create a new view, a new chapter. He just knew the reality: His wife was gone. He needed something that reflected who and where he is today."
For Fransecky, entertaining is important in life’s newest chapter. The town house’s open floor plan provides ample room for a variety of gatherings. The kitchen is set up to accommodate catering or conversation at the bar while the host whips up a little something for his guests. Red pendant lights create ambiance and add a splash of color.
Browns and charcoals form a palette that is both masculine and warm. Accessories, art, and pillows add splashes of color. “Architecturally, this is a very contemporary space, but he’s a very warm person,” says Smoler.
Fransecky likes neutral wall colors. His late wife finished their homes that way, creating a timeless look. “If art and accessories create the color in the room, you don’t tire of it,” says Smoler. “If backgrounds are clean and classic, there is no need to redo it.”
Smoler’s choice of neutrals involves a broad spectrum of hues. Light plays with the living room’s slate walls, casting green or brown shadows. Light also transforms the caramel hall and stair color into jewel-tone ginger.
Fransecky’s passion for books (his “friends) resulted in three libraries. He owns hundreds of volumes and gets about 50 new books each month.
“I sweep through them. Things come in and go out,” says Fransecky. “Every book in here was chosen to be here.”
The library on the main floor adds color and texture to the living room. The reading library on the second floor has wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. A flat-screen TV and a pair of Stickley leather chairs with nailheads add a dose of modern to the traditional library.
The third library is in the master bedroom. Bookshelves are painted to match the tranquil sea-foam walls and draperies. The pedestrian bridge becomes its own sculpture, says Smoler. But the lights, which stay on until 2 a.m., required blackout drapery.
The deep-charcoal headboard provides a perfect stop as the eye sweeps the custom upholstered bench, bedding and pillows.
Smoler used geometric and flat patterned fabrics in the bedding and pillows for depth and character. The faux-finished wall supports the strong headboard and transitions to the tranquil linens and wall colors.
“The spaces were sparsely treated to keep things clutter free and comfortable,” says Smoler.
Fransecky was equally purposeful about the furniture, pictures and art in his new home. From among thousands of family photos, he has chosen to display 37. Custom shelves were added to the stairway walls to hold the most precious images.
He and his wife shared a love of antiques and collected rugs from all over the world. Most of the rugs are new house. A few of their antiques came, too. And Smoler added a few one-of-a-kind treasures from Allens Home.
“There are no accidents. Everything in here has a story and a purpose,” says Fransecky.
The third floor is his home office. A lot of things happen here. It’s where he starts his day writing his newsletter, blog, book, or column for The Huffington Post. Multiple computers and several screens are poised on a desk that spans nearly the length of the house.
He even has a video and teleconferencing setup. “Each one (computer) has its specific purpose,” Fransecky says.
Fransecky mixes Macs and PCs, iPads and iPods – not surprising for a guy who works with entrepreneurs and industry leaders as chair of the Halo Institute. “I love technology. I love engineering,” he says.
Smoler found that working with Fransecky allowed her to mix seeming opposites to create a beautifully balanced environment. “For me, it’s all about balance,” says Smoler. “Sentimental pieces make this feel like home.” The new pieces make it feel like the new chapter it is. It gives him a positive way to look toward the future. It least people get an impression of who Roger Fransecky is today.”
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Roger Fransecky died July 5, 2013, at his Omaha home from a brain tumor.