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Omaha Magazine

Doing a Double Take

Aug 21, 2023 04:04PM ● By Tamsen Butler
The Troias transform a dull, dated ranch  into a rustic, two-story stunner.

Photo by Sarah Lemke.

Sarah Troia is the first to admit it: when she first laid eyes on her Swanson Park home, she didn’t see the possibilities. Luckily, her husband, Brian, understood the house’s potential. And as owner of Halo Construction, he also had the resources to transform the home into that vision.

The two-story residence, which Sarah affectionately refers to as her “Pottery Barn house,” was a single-story ranch when the Troias bought it in 2009 in preparation for their twins being born. At that time, it was a five-bedroom, four-bathroom house with a small, two-car garage. Today, the residence has six bedrooms, five bathrooms, and a three-car garage and boasts quite the makeover.

Sarah said her first thought after buying the 1950s house was, “The outside needs work.” But within three days of moving in, Brian was tearing down walls indoors to open the floor plan for their growing family. The rehab outdoors would have to wait.

Exterior renovations began in earnest in 2016. The initial intent, according to Sarah, was simply to replace the home’s original windows—deemed worn out and inefficient. “But then that became, ‘Let’s change the siding’ and then, ‘Let’s change the roof’,” she said, laughing.

In 2019, the Troias celebrated a decade in the home with a momentous decision. “We’ve spent 10 years here, let’s make it what we want it to be!” Sarah remembered saying. More remodeling projects followed. “We’d lived there so long that we knew what we wanted. My advice is to live in a home for a while before you start renovating.” 

Halo’s project manager, Javier Macias, agreed. “Sarah was decisive. I can count on my hand the number of times she changed her mind. She was easy to work with.”

Initially, the Troias planned on staying in the home throughout the renovation process. But they soon realized that with a big renovation, it’s simply easier to vacate the home. They rented a house locally in February 2020—then the pandemic exploded. Seizing the opportunity for some remote family time, they rented a home on the beach in Florida and went south to await the conclusion of their renovations (and the pandemic). “It worked out well,” she said. 

 “We did the renovation in stages,” Macias said. “They were in Florida for three or four months, so we talked using FaceTime.” The renovations were completed in September 2020.

Although it’s a two-story today, “It really is a ranch,” Sarah said. “After the kids grow up and leave, I won’t have to go upstairs or downstairs if I don’t want to. Everything I need is on the main level.” The upstairs addition includes bedrooms, a laundry room, and a large family room.

Outside, landscaping renovations were done by S&N Landscape Design. The home’s wood siding also received new paint, which Sarah selected after perusing Pinterest. Her bold choice was Benjamin Moore ‘Hale Navy,’ with crisp, white trim, which has earned her many compliments. She’s noticed that a few houses nearby have recently received a similar navy-blue treatment.

The Troias enhanced the exterior’s rustic feel by adding stained board and batten shutters, a stained-wood front door and railing, and gray-toned stacked stone on the house facade and chimney. New paneled garage doors finish the look.

The paint, landscaping, and renovations transformed the midcentury ranch into a two-story beauty that has a cozy, lodge feel reminiscent of mountain living. It’s undergone such dramatic changes, in fact, that the home draws second looks from many in the neighborhood. All home renovations are complete, Sarah said, apart from the backyard, which is in the process of having a pool installed.

Sarah said money and time spent on the renovations were “100% worth it. It’s now exactly how we wanted it.’”

Sarah and Brian are both from Omaha, and despite Sarah’s many travels and having lived in Denver, Kansas City, Houston, and elsewhere, she’s now certain they will remain here for good. “This is our forever home. I can’t say that fast enough,” she said.  
This article originally appeared in the September 2023 issue of Omaha Home magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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