A Red-Hot FireplaceSep 26, 2019 11:46AM ● By Carrielle Sedersten
Situated between Pacific and Shirley streets off 132nd Street in Omaha, is the ultra mid-century modern home of Paul Hanson Rhodes and Micah Rhodes. Ash trees line the drive to the Rhodes’ residence, a split-level home with navy siding, white brick, and natural cedar shutters. A bright green door opens to an entryway with irregular-shaped white marble floors and a paneled, antique mirrored wall to the right—both original.
Almost nothing else in the house is original.
Built in 1967, the Rhodes’ family home had one previous owner before they purchased it four years ago in May. After seeing the freestanding, red enamel fireplace in the listing, Paul knew they had to have the house. Paul is a real estate agent and interior designer who honed his remodeling skills while renovating his previous Midtown home. Upon closing the couple’s current home, he immediately started renovating.
Paul’s first project was the upstairs. He began by removing the wall separating the kitchen and the living room because the original floor plan divided the space too much. Next, he tore up the bland, beige carpet, exposing spectacular oak hardwood floors running vertically through the dining and living areas.
It’s common to find hardwood floors when tearing up carpet in mid-century homes. Paul decided to restain the floors gray. The kitchen linoleum was next to go, replaced with rectangular, light gray porcelain tile. The renovations continued in the basement. It turned out not to inconvenience them both. During their first year of homeownership, Micah lived in Storm Lake, Iowa, for his job as a volleyball coach.
Even though Micah and Paul are from the same hometown of Grand Island and share the same birthday, they spent the first few years of their relationship living apart. Perhaps the fact that they share the same birthday was fate. The couple got married on their birthday, June 17, in 2016.
After two years of marriage, they tackled their last renovation project: the kitchen, which they completed last summer—replacing canary-yellow appliances to stainless steel and oak cabinets to black ones that extend to the ceiling. The addition of a kitchen island adds more countertop space, while new white quartz countertops provide a clean, classic feel.
“The quartz countertops were another way to incorporate mid-century modern style,” Paul says. “We want our house to feel like it could have been in the ’60s, just updated.”
Their hard-to-miss retro glassware collection of champagne flutes, coupes, martinis, rocks, and everyday glasses fill three kitchen shelves, an oak hutch, and a silver metal shelving unit. Some of the glasses trace back to their mothers, and others come from secondhand markets in Nebraska and Iowa.[gallery ids="39342,39341,39345"]
Just like all those who hosted cocktail parties throughout the ’50s and ’60s, Paul and Micah love to entertain and have game nights at least two or three times a month.
“During that time period, people [would] dress up, get their fancy glassware out, and take the time making a cocktail,” Paul says.
The couple also like to spend time at home cooking, and they almost exclusively cook on the grill. Even during the winter, they grill anything from chicken to salmon burgers to vegetables. Brussels sprouts are their favorite food to grill. Micah and Paul swear that eating brussels sprouts cooked this way, served with ketchup, makes them taste like french fries.
A cornerstone of mid-century modern design is a connection with the outdoors. Natural elements feature largely in their home, from wood tables and floors to the abundance of potted succulents and other green plants sprinkled throughout that bring the outdoors indoors. Organic green, blue, and brown hues mixed with whites and grays create a calming effect in the living space.
One of the reasons Paul and Micah love living in Omaha is the relaxed Midwestern pace. Spending time at home making dinner and watching their favorite TV shows, including Windy City Rehab and The Bachelorette, are things they both enjoy.
“We usually hang out downstairs during the winter, and it gets nice and toasty with the fireplace going,” Micah says. “During the summer, we spend most of our time outside taking the dogs for walks and, recently, running three or four times a week.”
Another reason they love living in Omaha is being close to family. It’s one of the reasons Paul says he wanted to move back after living in New York. They also like how friendly people are in the Midwest.
“I like that people say hello to each other on the street,” Micah says. “I like that Nebraska is a place where you can feel comfortable, for the most part…Anybody’s willing to strike up a conversation, just learn about who you are. I don’t feel like you can find that in other places.”
Nebraska holds a special place in their hearts, and on their dining room wall. A map of the state from the school where Paul’s mom once taught is a focal point of the space and a conversation starter at every party. People love pointing out where they’re from.
Although most of the home is new, the Rhodes’ household is full of collected pieces that have a history. Whether it’s the wooden coffee table Paul remembers seeing in his grandparents’ basement that now sits in their living room or the custom pop art paintings of their two dogs, Nugget and Lucy, that’s really what sharing a home is all about—creating history together.
This article was printed in the October 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.