Omaha builder Howard C. Larsen liked pools. But he didn’t appreciate cookie-cutter homes.
He satisfied both inclinations with the midcentury modern home he designed in northwest Omaha near 108th and Maple Streets. The one-story abode was built in a U-shape surrounding a courtyard entrance with a small inground pool.
It stands out from its neighbors, not just because of the design but because owners Jeremy and Alesha Cerny returned it to its roots with a white and aqua paint job, similar to the colors it had when it was built in 1961.
It’s nothing like the more familiar tans and browns surrounding it, although a home with an octagon shape catches your eye, too, as you drive up the street.
“I love living in a unique property,” said Alesha, an architectural historian for the National Park Service. “Historic preservation and architectural history. It’s my real passion and interest.”
The Cernys have lived in the house for eight years. The interior furnishings match the exterior, from the vintage drapes in the office to the yellow-tiled bathroom that they love.
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Alesha’s work desk is an original by Jens Risom, a midcentury designer. Their coffee table is by Paul McCobb.
Their son Kohl’s bedroom set was inherited from his grandparents, and the Cernys have found other original pieces from Mod Lines, a midcentury resale store at 51st and Leavenworth Streets.
“Nowadays, it’s coming back in style,” Alesha said.
Sadly, though, they’re leaving the 1,554-square-foot house. It’s become too small as 5-year-old Kohl grows, Alesha works from home and Jeremy continues to grow his freshwater fish hobby.
Their new multilevel home near 118th and Pacific Streets isn’t unique, but Alesha is confident about keeping the midcentury vibe she loves inside with their furnishings and colorful splashes of stripes and patterns.
They are leaving behind all the curtains, which the new buyer asked them to include in the purchase price. There were multiple offers on the house, all above the asking price. TJ O’Leary, who grew up in the neighborhood, was the realtor.
The Cernys say the neighborhood and area have been great. They did a lot to address years of deferred maintenance to the property. It was a rental when Alesha spotted it and then asked the owners if they would be interested in selling.
“We just fell in love with the house,” Alesha said. “It needed to be saved.”
They extended the block flooring from the living room into the kitchen, built an island with cupboards they found in the garage, installed gutters and did some work on the pool to make it fully operational as it was originally intended. An flexible small-duct high velocity Unico HVAC system cost $30,000.
It was difficult to find someone to do the pool work, but then Mike Loftus, owner and operator of Expert Pool Work, laid eyes on it.
“He was immediately excited. He recognized the uniqueness and how cool it was,” Alesha said.
She grew up with a pool and enjoys taking a quick dip during her lunch breaks, and the family often eats outside in the courtyard. They plan to put in a pool eventually at their new home.
Jeremy’s fish tanks could be the hardest part of the move. The graphic designer has hired Fish Freaks near 132nd Street and West Center Road to move his largest aquarium, which is 280 gallons. He’ll have to prep the many smaller ones in the fallout basement area himself.
It’s going to be hard to leave, but they’re happy the new buyer likes the home’s style and the neighborhood. That person will know all about both. An oversized book they’ll leave behind includes blueprints, articles about the home and its builder as well as a welcoming letter from the previous owner. The Cernys plan to write the same.
“We found someone who appreciates midcentury vibe,” Alesha said, “and is not going to do anything while they are here besides cosmetic issues.”
Photos: Dig the details in this mid-century modern home