An Omaha Home Gets a Timeless Update
A daring homeowner with a life-long passion for decorating brings her classic mid-mod ranch from one century into the next.
Debbie Ford cheerfully admits to the occasional misstep as she and her husband, Rick, remodeled their 1950s ranch in Omaha. While the Fords never second-guessed their decision to expand and enclose their sunroom to create an expansive living room, Debbie's original cool gray color palette left her cold—literally. "It was just wrong," she says. "I realized I couldn't live with it."
On the other hand, the warm background of the Schumacher paper in the entry spoke to her. So she asked Sherwin-Williams to match it. The custom shade, a rich hue she calls charcoal-blue, now enfolds the galley kitchen and open dining and living rooms.
Although she lacks formal training, Debbie has always had a foot in the design world. She arranged and sold dried florals for years, and as an empty nester, worked at Pottery Barn. That experience helps her skip the angsting step that paralyzes some non-pros. Whether she's ditching a matching furniture set or mixing leopard print with stripes, her strategy is simple: "I just kind of buy what I like."
TWICE AS NICE The oversize living room (above) features two seating areas, each with a sisal area rug as a neutral anchor. This stripy linen sofa has a bench cushion—no pesky cracks for guests to fall through when they pile on.
PEAKED INTEREST Contrasting the dark walls, a wash of light paint brightens Debbie Ford's lofted pine ceiling. A confident dabbler in crafts and DIY, she doctored the bamboo chandelier with aftermarket shades.
LIVING LARGE Debbie Ford found the oversize botanical prints above at Nell Hill's in Kansas City, Missouri. "This is the only wall without a window," she says."That orangey color and light background give a perception of light and the outdoors."
UNMATCHED SUCCESS Debbie paired her sturdy table (which extends to seat 14) with shapely Louis XVI-style chairs. She covered them in stone Ultrasuede for easy cleanup, since the grandkids visit often.
NARROW WIN A white tile backsplash and quartz countertops breathe visual air into the galley kitchen. Another trick: Shaker molding makes the cabinets look taller.
MIXED METALS Gold-tone hardware mingles casually with stainless-steel appliances (silver for the dishwasher and fridge, black for the double ovens). Stella the English bulldog seems to approve of the variety.
Decorating becomes a lot easier when you fall in love with a one-stop home shop.
Debbie Ford makes no secret of her favorite store, Nell Hill's. "We call it the temple," she says. "My kids, my sisters, my friends—we all go there." Forty years ago, Mary Carol Garrity opened the original Nell Hill's in Atchison, Kansas. The traditional-with-a-twist store became a legend, luring fans like Debbie from states away. In 2007, the business consolidated in an 18,000-square-foot showroom in Kansas City, Missouri, heralding a new era of ready-to-shop and bespoke furnishings and accessories, plus a paint collection. In 2019, new owner Katie Laughridge took the helm. She's honoring Garrity's legacy while adding her own personality and passions. And she's introduced online shopping—finally! "We're shrinking the distance between ourselves and our customers," Laughridge says.