Roger & Chris Come Home: Adventurous Design, Bold Moves from Omaha’s Newest Power CoupleMay 27, 2020 10:53AM ● By Patrick Mainelli
Photography by Chris Stout-Hazard
One thing a person learns after hosting nearly 200 episodes of an Emmy-nominated home design show: “All the info you need to buy a house is on the internet. The only reason you go in person is to get an emotional reaction.”
In 2016 when Roger Hazard—a designer and former host of A&E’s Sell This House—and his husband, Chris Stout-Hazard, purchased their current home in Omaha’s Country Club neighborhood, they made the commitment sight unseen.
At the moment of sale, the 1932 Tudor had great curb appeal—whitewashed red brick, dramatic roof peaks over the door and windows—but not much else going for it. “Nothing in the kitchen worked,” Roger remembered. “There was a gas leak. It smelled terrible. But this is our profession; I’m used to renovating houses in a week on TV, so it didn’t scare me.”
In fact, Roger’s television persona suggests a man who has never once known fear in the face of even the most frightening design challenges. During the show’s run, from 2003 to 2011, Roger traveled the country, helping homeowners quickly redesign and stage their homes to be more appealing to buyers.
Because production of the show was constantly moving between cities, the couple, who first met in Roger’s hometown of Austin, Texas, could take up residence wherever they pleased. This meant stints in Austin, upstate New York, and Montclair, New Jersey, where they rented a forested midcentury modern mountain home with a grand view of the Manhattan skyline.
By the time the New Jersey lease was up and the seasons working as a TV star had passed, it was time for new vistas. Omaha, where Chris was raised and still has close family, was high on the list of options.
“We decided after having spent years in other places, but constantly coming back to Omaha to visit family, it might just make sense to be here ourselves. It was obvious the city is headed in the right direction,” Chris said.
Roger confirmed. “I knew Omaha was a perfect opportunity. I’ve worked all over the country and have seen how cities change for the better. I could see the signs [here].”
Once they made the move, the home renovations began immediately. Chris remembered, “Roger literally drove halfway across the country from New Jersey and went right to the paint store.”
Four years later, the house is a rich feast for the senses. Moving from room to room, the home achieves a good balance of dark, rustic seclusion and bright openness. Throughout, adventurous paint choices—stripes and swoops, two- and three-tone rooms, floor-to-ceiling geometric patterns—give the whole home a bold and playful feel.
Especially striking is the black and white mud cloth pattern that fills a kitchen wall and moves up the staircase into the upper landing. The whole intricate creation was hand-painted by Chris, who worked for years in tech for financial institutions before deciding to embrace his creative talents and join Roger in the design world.
While the house is full of joyfully designed nooks to hide away in, the home’s true sanctuary waits out back. What was once an entirely empty grass lot has been transformed into a lush English gothic garden.
“I designed the garden and planted every single plant myself…over 3,500,” Roger shared proudly. “I’m a huge believer in going for what you want. The garden is only three years old, but it looks like it’s been here 15 years.”
Like the home, the garden landscape is full of artful corners to get lost in. Billowing hydrangea blossoms, plush ferns, and enclosing cypress walls all create distinct and secluded sitting areas.
“Omaha has an amazing climate for gardens,” Roger noted. “I’m amazed at how bland the landscaping is around here, though! I’ve lived in New York for many years, and that’s a much harsher climate that people do a lot more with. It looks like cemetery planting around here. Nothing but hedges. To me, Omaha has beautiful topography and that should really be embraced more.”
Luckily for Omaha, this couple’s enthusiastic eye for design is now on view and on sale in a new Dundee retail space. Since 2009, Roger and Chris have been hard at work designing and manufacturing custom, built-to-order furniture under the all-too-appropriate moniker Roger + Chris. This year they opened their first-ever showroom.
Their 25,000-square-foot factory in Hickory, North Carolina, has been producing high-quality couches and chairs for everyday homeowners and high-end commercial clients like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and CNN.
“Since we own our own factory, we like to test out styles [at home] before we offer them to consumers,” Roger explained. “Like a garden…We evolve and the house evolves.”
Their new Dundee location puts them squarely in the middle of one of the city’s creative hubs. The shop’s immediate neighbors, the small-but-mighty design firm Round and Round, are eager to welcome the new kids in town. “I’m super excited for the Roger and Chris store,” said Round and Round designer Justin Kemerling. “It looks awesome. Great design everywhere. Brings good life to the neighborhood. Looking forward to having them as neighbors.”
“We’ve always succeeded by being ourselves and not following the routine,” Chis said.
Like their home, the interior of the retail space is anything but routine. Roger explained, “It’s a concept store. It’s more about an experience when you come in. We created a fictional character who hired us to design their home—a rock star with an upstate old home that he wants as a retreat. It’s pretty over the top with the design. It’s meant to make you smile.”
“Home design is unnecessarily intimidating,” Chris added. “We love showing people that there is no reason you should be afraid to do this—to do it yourself.”
To see more of Roger and Chris’ furniture creations, visit rogerandchris.com.
This article was printed in the May 2020 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.