Skip to main content

Omaha Magazine

Give Me Shelter: A Contemporary Carport

Jul 01, 2022 10:46AM ● By Leo Adam Biga

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

A carport may not seem an integral element in an extensive home renovation. But as satisfied as Kim and Randy Dickhut were with the 2014 remodel of their midcentury modern home in Rockbrook, it never seemed complete without the carport of the home’s original design, which got scuttled due to budgetary constraints. 

For six years, an existing attached garage sheltered Kim’s car, while a big oak tree protected Randy’s vehicle. After a storm took the tree, the need for a carport became more pragmatic than aesthetic. In 2020 the couple reassembled their home remodel team—led by architects Brian and Andrea Kelly of ATOM Design, along with general contractor Doug Kiser—to realize this small yet significant addition. The auto shelter went up in 2021.

“I can’t imagine the carport not being there,” Kim said recently, “because the house just really looks complete now. It needed that as a finishing touch. It doesn’t feel like an addition. It feels like it was always there.”

The reason the carport aesthetic is seamless, Brian Kelly said, is that it was part of the design plan from the beginning, though a new iteration emerged. Design phase meetings for the project between the Kellys and Dickhuts took place over Zoom–a first for the architects then.   

  The same material palette used on the house carries through in the carport, including steel, cement board, and wood slats. Kelly sees it as “the final stitches in a carefully woven tapestry.”

“We didn’t want it to feel like when a car is not parked there it’s missing a car,” he said. “It makes sort of a framed space that moves towards the backyard. It still feels like it’s part of the house.” 

The carport is attached to the house on one side and is ground bearing on the other.

The homeowners–Kim is a retired elementary school teacher, and Randy is senior vice president of real estate operations for Farmers National Co.–like how organic it feels. 

“It all flows together,” Randy said. “It’s nice to park my car out of the sun, snow, ice and hail, and we both appreciate that it kind of completes the design. It moves the car next to the house instead of in front. And it looks good from the street.”

“You walk through it to get to the backyard without going through the house,” Kim added.

Landscaping is part of the property’s tapestry, with designed boundaries and edges.

“A lot of the landscaping was done by my husband,” Kim said of Randy, a former farmer who likes getting his hands dirty.

He added trees and bushes and removed other plantings. “The landscaping evolves as plants change, grow, respond differently,” he noted.

With input from the Kellys, Canopy Gardens of Omaha articulated and executed the final landscape design that, like the house, connects the indoors and outdoors.

“Kim and Randy wanted to screen their view to the street, [but] not necessarily screen the street’s view to the house because they were doing all these amazing things they wanted to be seen,” Andrea Kelly said.

A Canopy Gardens designer conceived an angular plan echoing the house’s boxlike configuration. Plantings that thrive in shade were selected.

“Canopy came up with this really clean look that finished it,” Kim said.

Additional touches tying indoors with outdoors include a patio pergola and a trellis framing the upstairs master suite. The wood slats and steel grillwork above the garage and front entryway and on the carport repeat in the back of the house. 

The level of integration and symmetry that went into the design of the house, the carport, and the landscaping could only happen as part of a true collaborative process. Brian Kelly said a testament to the relationships built is that the Dickhuts insisted on the same structural engineer (Jeff Ehler) and steel fabricator (Chris Kemp) from the original project for the carport. High-integrity design is achieved when creatives “understand the heart of the house” and its dwellers, Randy said. “[The Kellys] really get us,” and understand our appreciation for design, he added.

“I would love to do more projects with them in the future, if that were to happen, just because I trust them. That trust has a lot to do with it,” Kim said. 

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2022 issue of Omaha Home. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  

Evvnt Calendar