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Omaha Magazine

A Gathering Place at Harvest & Beyond: The Narkes’ Four-Season Porch

Oct 28, 2020 08:20AM ● By Katy Spratte Joyce
Narke family's three white fluffy dogs

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Narke family porch [4 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
It's barely been a year since the Narke family moved from suburban Sarpy County to their new lakeside abode near Ashland, Nebraska. With all four children at college or beyond, mom Jennilyn Narke was ready to “get out of the white picket fence neighborhood and into the country.” And, with significant tax savings in their new location to boot, there were many factors pulling them toward Sandy Pointe Lake.

One lure was the opportunity to build a custom home that fit their needs to a tee. Formerly a residential builder, husband Mark Narke was up to the challenge of serving as general contractor on the project.

When choosing decor, the couple was able to perfectly combine Mark’s industrial farmhouse preferences with wife Jennilyn’s French farmhouse tastes. Perhaps no room better encapsulates that pairing than the home’s back porch, which serves as a bonus gathering place for the close-knit clan. Mark used unique materials throughout the space, including reclaimed shiplap from a 1906 downtown Papillion farmhouse for the wood paneling on the walls. Dark wood fencing, sourced from a physician’s old home near Creighton University, was installed on the ceiling for a cozy, rustic feel. Hand-painted tile from Spain in a classic black and white pattern was applied to the floors and adds a timeless touch to the room. Additionally, the porch features beautiful custom woodwork, as the frames and baseboards were all hand-milled from poplar wood by Giles Enterprises of Springfield, Nebraska.

The Narkes love antiques and repurposing old items, but also enjoy the more contemporary, beachy vibe that comes with their sweeping lake views. Their home features furniture and decorative pieces from an eclectic array of stores. From the Fixer Upper-famed Magnolia Collection, to Costco and Target, to Pier 1 and Pottery Barn, to Wayfair and Amazon, myriad retail outlets were ripe for discovering pieces perfect for their porch.  
One table was sourced from a Home Goods in North Carolina; Mark picked it up on a work trip and took it apart to get it to fit, Tetris style, into a suitcase for his plane trip home. The kids made their decorative mark with their Starbucks souvenir mug collection; it’s displayed proudly on a wrought-iron rack and shares their favorite travel destinations.

The porch is a seasonal showcase of sorts, with small tweaks in décor and plants that help it change with the months and the holidays. Swapping summer blooms for mums, the official queen of fall flora, helps usher in autumn. Adding some rich, warm decor accents and touches of pumpkin, an apple cider bar, and a harvest-themed dish set on the table make the space the perfect spot to curl up on a brisk November day.

But the true star of the show has to be the authentic wood-burning stove from Claxton Fireplace in Omaha. This was actually a design compromise, as Jennilyn wanted a wood-burning fireplace and Mark didn’t. They agreed on the high-efficiency stove that, while new, has a vintage look. Jennilyn shared that it’s “the thing that has brought our family together more than anything else in the house.” 

When the weather starts to chill and the kids come home, the family—which also includes goldendoodles Finley and Phoebe—convenes on the porch and enjoys hot chocolate and s’mores nearly every night. It’s become a space where treasured memories are made year-round.  

This article was printed in the November/December 2020 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.