A Liberty Star: The Ahlers' Patriotic Porch Shines All SummerJun 25, 2021 04:08PM ● By Katy Spratte Joyce
Photo by Bill Sitzmann
“It’s like that movie The Money Pit,” said Kim Ahlers, referring to her 1903 farmhouse in the City Park area of Papillion. Since purchasing the property in 1991, the Ahlers family has shown a lot of renovation love to their home, including an 1,800-square-foot expansion. Perhaps most notably, in 1994, they added a showstopping front porch that not only increased functional space, but transformed the curb appeal of their home as well. In fact, people walking by often say, “We just want to come up on your porch and sit,” Ahlers said proudly.
The home makeover almost didn’t happen. “I’m always the big visionary,” Ahlers explained. She could see the potential even as her husband, Greg, voted to bulldoze the place and start anew. Luckily, Kim won that battle, and the couple decided to move ahead with the old home reno, which became a labor of love.
Ahlers was inspired by pretty porches seen on frequent business trips to the East Coast, even drawing the design herself. “It added so much to the house,” she said. She and Greg spend mornings on the porch with coffee, and evenings on the porch with cocktails. “It’s an extension of our home…It’s definitely living space,” for the family of five, she said.
Ahlers, who has owned and operated Papillion boutique Kajoma’s for 15 years, decorates her massive front porch for every season. She starts setting up her summer look in May so the area is transformed with patriotic flair in time for Memorial Day. “I have a love for color and pattern, and I’ve always enjoyed decorating,” the homeowner explained. “You give me a theme, and I’ll run with it.” The summer color scheme has traditionally been red, white, and blue, a nod to her mother, who was a longtime STRATCOM employee and loved Americana. “She passed it on to me,” Ahlers stated. The decorating enthusiast began with a single flag on the flagpole out front, then started collecting classic Fourth of July decor such as buntings, which she uses to this day.
“It really is picture perfect,” said Karri Horton, a teacher at nearby Trumble Park Elementary. “I drive up that street every day and am always anxious to see the seasonal changes on the porch.” The summer setup is Horton’s favorite because it coincides with an annual Papillion Days gathering where everyone is welcome.
Promoting that community feel is a key focus for Ahlers, a former president of the Downtown Papillion Business Association. “The porch has been a central congregating spot,” she said. Even the decor has local flair, as much of it was sourced from Prairie in Bloom in Omaha, Mariposa Home Gifts Design in Papillion, and Robin’s Nest in Springfield. “Whatever catches my eye and makes me smile,” and fits the color scheme, is what Ahlers gravitates toward. New pieces from HomeGoods or Nebraska Furniture Mart, and older, unique pieces, such as a retro bike from a neighborhood garage sale, grace the porch as well. A pale, sky-blue color covers the porch ceiling, harkening back to Southern Gullah tradition. Big ferns, flowers, succulents, and hanging plants found at Mulhall’s and Canoyer Garden Center bring Mother Nature onto the decor team. Even the family’s golden retriever, the ever-dapper Lloyd Randolph, gets dressed up to match the porch for the summer holidays; he has a collection of hats and ties that match perfectly with the patriotic theme.
“Our porch feels like taking a step back in time,” Ahlers said.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of Omaha Home. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.