The Hartungs’ Modern House on the PrairieAug 31, 2020 08:46AM ● By Carrielle Sedersten
Photography by Bill Sitzmann
Resting on three acres of lush green grass surrounded by open fields stretching eastward for miles sits Jeff and Shannon Hartung’s two-story home on the prairie west of Bennington. The couple reside there with their two children, Kylie, 17, and Nick, 20, and two miniature schnauzers, Scarlett and Jarvis.
Drawing inspiration from architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Robie House in Chicago, the couple designed their modern Prairie-style home with a similar horizontal nature, incorporating flat, charcoal roof lines, three-foot overhanging eaves, and natural limestone on the exterior.
Built in 2015, this four-bedroom, five-bathroom, 5,600-square-foot home is an homage to sophisticated simplicity. Nothing is overly frivolous or ornate, yet the great attention to detail and craftsmanship can not be missed.
“I overbuilt, I would say, because number one, it’s my house,” explained Jeff, owner of Ideal Construction. “And plus, I tend to go overboard also, that’s just the way I am. But, you know, I treated it like a job. I wanted it to be done right.”
This is the first private residence that Ideal Construction has built from the ground up, Jeff said. The bulk of the firm’s work is commercial construction and the rest is home remodels.
Natural white oak, wide-plank hardwood floors run throughout the main level, grounding the open floor plan. Douglas fir wood beams feature prominently on the living room’s 10-foot ceilings, soaring to 14 feet in some areas. A striped onyx marble gas fireplace is centered between two French doors and stretches all the way to the ceiling.
The use of natural stone continues in the primary bedroom, right off the living room, with another fireplace surrounded by floor-to-ceiling white marble with delicate gray veining. It’s flanked on both sides by large, built-in shelves full of Shannon’s book collection and family photos. “For me, that [fireplace] is almost like a piece of art,” said Shannon, vice president at Ideal Construction. “It brought in some color without being obnoxious. That was one of my favorite things that we put in the house.”
“I love to read,” Shannon added. “I’m hoping to fill them all up. That’s my goal.”
As you round the corner into the en suite bath, you’re greeted by a chevron path of black-and-white-striped marble tiles that leads you to a freestanding soaking tub with a geometric chrome chandelier suspended above.
“We did the [en suite’s] bath tops and tub ledge in Cambria White Cliff quartz,” said Tricia Gaillard, sales and design manager at CKF, which contributed to the home build. The pristine white quartz matches the walls, creating an environment where natural light radiates.
To the left and right of the bathtub are his-and-hers vanities complete with mirrors spanning the width of the wall and frameless white oak cabinets.
Keeping with the modern feel, “The vanity cabinetry is designed as a floating vanity, so it sits 10 inches above...the floor,” Gaillard added.
The en suite’s neutral color palette is a reflection of the entire home full of grays, whites, and blonde wood tones. The trim, walls, and nearly all the ceilings are the same white color with different finishes. The only places you’ll find a hint of color come from artwork, and even then, it’s subtle.
“I like neutrals,” Shannon said. “I get really tired of color. I’m a sucker for gray.”
The home is distinctly modern with clean lines, but not in an unapproachable or stark manner.
Touches like the barely there recessed baseboards that sit flush against the wall with only a sleek linear indent to create separation are where modern style shows through. Plus, without a ledge, there’s nowhere for dust to collect—something the Hartungs took into consideration when designing their home.
Shannon explained: “I just think it’s easier to maintain and easier to clean. I don’t like the really ornate, heavy woodwork. Things like that just collect so much dust to me. I wanted it to feel light and airy.”
Since less trim equals less dust, they opted for solid core doors with a stacked rail design in a medium gray all throughout the house. Even the windows don’t have raised trim around them.
“It’s funny, you don’t think about stuff like that, but it really does add up,” Shannon said.
With the modern details, it’s hard to grasp just how opulent and expansive the Hartungs’ home is. Between the brushed-steel metal dining table, the circular glass table, and the granite waterfall-edge kitchen island, the space comfortably seats 17 people. It’s perfect for the entertaining they do for Husker football parties and Friendsgiving, as well as family get-togethers.
“It’s just someone cooking and someone bringing some different plates over and hanging around, eating and drinking,” Jeff said. “We want people to feel like they can just come in, kick their shoes off [...] just like they’re at home.”
The Hartungs have plenty of entertaining space besides their main floor. They recently finished their basement, complete with a glass-enclosed wine cellar and wet bar. Out in their commercial-sized garage is a kitchenette with a massive beverage refrigerator and several bar stools to sit around the peninsula counter.
When they want to enjoy the outdoors, there’s a covered porch right off their living room overlooking their pool and impeccably landscaped yard. Designed by Mark McBride with Mulhall’s, the yard has a modern, symmetrical look, much like the house, and features prairie grasses, birch, red maple, and columnar oak trees, and limestone hardscapes. This was the first full summer the family got to enjoy the pool, and it’s easily become one of their favorite spots to hang out.
Living in rural Bennington may be too far west for some, but in this modern prairie home paradise, it’s exactly where Shannon and Jeff Hartung want to be.
Read about Ideal Construction’s work on Eric Burden’s home remodel in the May 2020 issue of OmahaHome.
This article was printed in the September 2020 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.