If you live in West Omaha, you’re probably familiar with the home on the northeast corner of 192nd and Harrison Streets that was once Sunny Slope School. The two-building home connected by a spectacular courtyard has a history as rich and unique as the stunning décor that sets it apart from any in the area. And although the buildings are modest in size at 1,500 sq. ft. each, both provide an inviting warmth that simultaneously relaxes and inspires you.
Homeowners Randy Shoults and Kelly Wirges Shoults have always made home design a hobby but really wanted this to be a showcase house. When Kelly first purchased the 1930s school building in 2001, she had intended to use it as office space. She told her father, Bill Wirges, President of Wirges Homes, that she’d like to find an old building. “He said he knew just the place,” Kelly reminisced. Surrounded by nothing but fields at the time, she and Randy began the first of several renovations, turning an old, brick school building into a stately home office with additional living space.
One of the first surprises when re-facing the exterior was finding the original Sunny Slope School sign underneath. “We had to keep it, so we incorporated it into the landscaping behind the building,” Kelly said. They also retained the hard wood floors wood-burning stove on the main floor, which they use throughout the winter months. A kitchenette and bathroom are also located on the main floor. The lower level serves as a guest suite complete with a full bath, additional half bath, and walk-in closets.
In 2010 the couple decided to add a courtyard next to the school house, which they also designed themselves. A large fountain sits in the center surrounded by 600 flowers, 90 trees that are lit at night, and 90 bushes, all of which the Shoults’ planted themselves. “We spend so much time outdoors, whether it’s drinking coffee in the morning, having a glass of wine in the evening, or entertaining friends,” Kelly said. Large statues and planters accentuate the detailed courtyard, which is sunken between the two buildings for complete privacy.
Three years later Randy and Kelly decided to add on to the property again, this time designing the main house. “We had both lived in large homes before, and we decided this house would be small in size, but large in design,” Randy said. Working with Matt Caniglia of Silverthorn Custom Homes as the general contractor, the empty nesters built a one-bedroom home that gives them all the space they need to enjoy its amenities, guests, and each other. “We prefer to have something smaller and beautiful,” Randy said. “We use every inch of space and don’t need any more.”
That space, which the Shoults’ named “Chateau de la Mirabella” (which means beautiful, bright star) is an elegant, eclectic mix of old-world European wall treatments, American antique furniture, and modern original artwork. The brown, black, and gold color palette throughout the home fills it with an unmatched warmth. Randy and Kelly wanted it to be the type of home where “everywhere you look, something grabs your attention.” That includes features such as 18 chandeliers throughout; Lincrusta textured wallpaper, which was used in the White House and in state rooms on the Titanic; 10-inch crown moulding around the 18-ft. metallic gold-painted ceilings; and the door pulls in-laid with Swarovski crystals on the “Randy Gold” painted kitchen cabinets.
Although both Kelly and Randy love every aspect of the home, Kelly said she has a special connection to the schoolhouse since it was a labor of love that her late father was involved in. Selling the home was a difficult decision, but Randy and Kelly said they are ready for their next adventure. “This home has been our canvas and was like working on a masterpiece,” Randy said. Kelly added that she hopes the new owners love it and enjoy it just as much as they have. “We could never duplicate it,” she said. “This home is priceless to us.” For more information, contact Jill Harris with Jackson Group Real Estate, 402-598-9121, firstname.lastname@example.org.