Modern HistoryDec 22, 2023 12:06PM ● By Natalie McGovern
Photo by Bill Sitzmann.
Westchester kitchen remodel [4 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
One might not expect to see a stately manor typical of Normandy or Provence in Omaha, but nestled in the cozy neighborhood of Westchester lies the 1932 French Countryside Revival home. The sprawling acreage estate on the corner between Dodge and Pacific streets has majestic charm with its red brick exterior and hidden spacious three-car garage.
Despite its provincial architecture, something was missing. The dated kitchen didn’t match, and something had to be done for it to be a functional and livable space.
Owners Kurt and Bethanie Rames, who own Massage Envy in Omaha and have managed rental properties in the past, knew the kitchen would be a lengthy endeavor to undertake. "Everybody would walk into the kitchen and my friends, who were very into design, would tell me I needed to do something about this," Bethanie remarked.
The Rames envisioned an open family space instead of closed-off rooms. To renovate the kitchen on their own seemed a daunting task, so they enlisted the help of Mary Ritzdorf of JH Interior Design to guide them through a seamless process that would elevate their historic kitchen to a more modern look and feel. Contractor Jamy Clark of Walls2Floors helped achieve the desired end result with timely precision.
The couple wanted to connect the kitchen with the rest of the home, so it felt intuitive to expand it, adding stained wood tones to generate more of a cohesive flow. Everything in the five-bedroom, four-bath house remained original, right down to the ornate woodwork, wrought iron, and a boiler that still runs.
Starting from scratch, the kitchen was completely gutted to make way for refurbished improvements. The contractor knocked out a wall and replaced historic arches to make the kitchen feel separate from the rest of the house. Since the goal involved maximizing space and adding another walkway, the Rames replaced a peninsula that jutted out to make way for a quartz countertop island.
Traditional elements such as a soffit covering the cabinets and a 90-year-old garbage incinerator felt outdated, so Ritzdorf set out to make necessary changes. The cabinetry now stands to the height of the ceiling, and a deep pantry pulls out in place of the garbage burning disposal. Every nook and cranny has been utilized to store kitchen wares and items effectively. A wood stove hood now provides more character than the stainless steel one that previously hung in its place. Brass-and-gold brushed drawer pulls add warmth, and updated appliances provide a touch of modernity that had been otherwise lacking.
Off to the corner sits a quiet alcove surrounded by six-paned glass bay windows, which surround an elegant breakfast nook. Lush velvet muted absinthe green chairs offset a rustic wood table with an eclectic gold brushed chandelier light fixture hanging overhead.
Old World characteristics are still there—only modernized. The whole décor flows and connects the layout back to the motifs of the living and dining rooms.
The Rames’ travels to Egypt and Israel reflect Middle Eastern inspiration throughout the interior. With Byzantine and Ottoman artifacts accentuating the home, it made sense to evoke a continuation of these design themes. A Moroccan-influenced arabesque ebony patterned accent panel above the stove complements the geometric black-and-white checkered marble floors.
“It was an organic process working with the Rames,” Ritzdorf said. “They were amazing to work with; they trusted the process and even took some risks.”
The designer was adamant about sticking to wood tones to harmonize with the original dark wood paneling in order to create continuity. She advised that the tiles be turned vertically to avoid the look of a restaurant style aesthetic.
The historic kitchen now flows and connects just the way the couple had envisioned. The Rames can cook and have family time without the kitchen feeling like its own secluded space, all the while enjoying the historic ambience of their homey kitchen remodel.
“It’s all just co-mingling now instead of separate rooms,” Kurt said.
For more information about Mary Ritzdorf’s design process, visit