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Omaha Magazine

The Heart of the Hub

Oct 21, 2023 06:06PM ● By Veronica Wortman Ploetz

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

A traditional Dutch Colonial style home sits nestled among trees on a quiet street near Elmwood Park. Through its pink door, the energy of the home is as bright and sweet as the lemon tart a neighbor dropped off for the Moody family to enjoy. “We moved to Omaha without knowing a soul, and have been so fortunate to form deep and meaningful relationships throughout the years,” said Emily Moody. 

Emily works as an Ergonomic Specialist at Mutual of Omaha. Her husband, Craig Moody, is the managing principal at Verdis Group, a sustainability consulting firm located in Omaha. The couple and their two daughters, Lydia (12) and Jane (8), live in Omaha’s historic Dundee neighborhood. Emily and Craig knew when they moved to the home that they would need to remodel the kitchen and add a family room to create a space where they could enjoy cooking their plant-based meals and keep an eye on their daughters playing. 

When Emily’s father passed away, he left them with the wish to create the space they needed. “From the day we bought the house, my dad was excited for us to update the kitchen. Unfortunately, he passed away before it was completed, but I think he would’ve loved it,” said Emily. 

 The couple spent time researching layouts by consulting with friends and industry professionals. “We were fortunate to have some great friends help out with a few key aspects of the remodel, both with the technical aspects and the labor to get it done,” Craig said. Close friends helped him with the demolition work, and he also spent hours on a then primitive IKEA project website, designing the cabinets for the kitchen remodel. The site crashed numerous times, but a determined Craig saw the project through technical glitches. His patience paid off. He designed, ordered, and hung all of the white kitchen cabinets. Emily affirmed with pride, “He just nailed it!”

The Moodys hired contractor Jesse Lyda to partner for the project. “Ultimately, it was a friend’s husband we selected as our contractor. He was open to us doing some of the work. And Jesse was the kind of guy who worked right alongside his crew, swinging his hammer. That kind of leadership, work ethic, and dedication was really important to us,” Emily shared. 

Remodeling historic homes presents challenges like finding the right materials to match other rooms. “We reviewed so many options for crown molding, trying to find the closest match to the rest of the historic house. Jesse turned one of the sample pieces upside down, and we discovered a near perfect match,” Emily shared. 

Finding space for modern conveniences additionally requires thoughtful design and craftsmanship. “Jesse was open to great ideas like that, from designing built-in bookcases to squeezing in a drop zone near the back entry of the house,” said Emily. 

 The finished space features white cabinetry and subway tiles paired with matte black granite countertops from GMS Werks. The peninsula counter pulls double duty for eating and play. There is a seamless flow between the kitchen and family room addition. Soft carpet underfoot evokes immediate comfort. Two large walls of windows, installed by Marvin Window and Door Store, allow nature to become part of the space. 

“I love being in nature,” Craig said. “The large windows on two sides of the family room give us the feeling of being in a tree house. The Eastern Redbud blooms pink in the spring, and its leaves turn yellow in the fall; and it’s really cool when the light filters through it, into the room. The color of the room changes with the seasons.”

The home’s formal living room underwent a refresh with the help of  Jessica McKay of Birdhouse Design Studio. “This is a long room, the hub of the house, with heavy traffic.  

 I wanted to create a cozy gathering space,”  McKay said. A backless navy daybed placed between two conversational areas creatively unites the space. McKay skillfully arranged many framed pieces of artwork in an approachable layered gallery setting. 

“Most of the art in our home is from local artists, many of whom are also friends,” Emily said. The walls feature pieces by Mary Zicafoose, Thomas Prinz, Wanda Ewing, Bill Hoover, Jamie Burmeister, Jill Rizzo, Peter Scherr, Joey Lynch, Brian Wetgen, Shawnequa Linder, and Cory Broman. A large-scale piece over the fireplace, a birthday gift to Emily from Craig, is from Erin Blainey’s collection. “The living room is full of great art by good friends and a lot of great memories. We built a strong community of friends and supporters in this room,” said Craig, reflecting on the room serving as an early campaign headquarters for his two runs for the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) board of directors. 

The Moodys go to great lengths for those they love. Craig underwent kidney donor surgery for his brother about the same time Emily was pregnant and giving birth to their first daughter, Lydia. Every time the family gathers in their dining room, a large custom pastel drawing of Elmwood Creek by local artist and family friend, Watie White, serves as a focal point and reminder of that time of life. White delivered the piece to the house as Emily and Craig enjoyed their first night out of the house after the transplant and their daughter Lydia’s arrival. “Having my work living in the spaces my treasured people live, the thought that my work would contribute something small, but good, to their life. This is the rewarding gift that this art brings,” said White. The kidney donation inspired artist Cobi Newton to gift a drawing to the family, which featured on the first anniversary transplant party invitation. The original hangs in the home. 

The three-season porch is nature-loving Craig’s favorite room in the house. “I meditate here in the mornings. I spend summer nights ‘camping’ with my daughters. It’s also a great space to have a drink with neighbors; we can all keep an eye on our kids playing outside while hanging out,” he said. 

The family’s use of approachable design and the welcoming energy that emanates from the home creates positive vibes within the neighborhood. Their daughters’ friends pop in and out of each other’s houses all day. It is common to have a few extra guests in the kitchen for a snack or in the dining room for dinner. “We are really a drop-in kind of family, no invitation needed. And we are seeing this now with our children and their friends following this pattern. We love it,” Emily said. 

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2023 issue of Omaha Home magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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