December 4, 2014 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann
Nestled in a far west expanse of Omaha is a rather unique property that often causes passersby to do a double-take. The former one-room schoolhouse built in 1938, Sunny Slope School, is owned by Kelly Wirges Shoults and her husband, Randy.

“We have a love for this building,” says Wirges Shoults. “It just feels good
inside these walls.”

The original concrete school sign was salvaged and is prominently displayed. It serves as a reminder of simpler times when the teacher, legend has it, would arrive on horseback. Happy times, when students would take part in festive activities like dancing around the maypole, building a snowman, or planting trees together on Arbor Day.

It is that foundation of warm memories of learning that serve as the bloodline for the base of operations for Wirges Shoults’ business, ProMax Training and Consulting. As CEO of ProMax, Wirges Shoults travels nationwide providing inspirational training to media companies.  Key words found in her curriculum include “passion,” “plan,” “process,” and “perseverance.”

It is evident that those same guiding principles were followed during the process of creating their property. She is inspired by her parents. “My father is one of the most positive people on the planet. My mother is always focused on accomplishing tasks, large and small, by giving 200 percent effort
to each,” she says.

Sun shines through a gauzy, leopard-print curtain in the bathroom. Leopard is a design staple of the office. “There’s just something sassy and elegant about it, if you do it right,” says Wirges Shoults.

“We do things ourselves,” she says. Many remodeling tasks like painting gate doors and staining cupboards are jobs that others in their situation might typically hire out. “Sometimes we’re just more pleased with the outcome,” Shoults says.

“There’s pride in it when you’re done,” Wirges Shoults, the woman who embedded 380 plants on her property, says.

In keeping with the building’s scholarly tradition, the office walls are lined with books. “I’m an avid reader of all types of books,” she says.  An impressive catalog of design magazines are meticulously arranged on shelves near the kitchenette. The room is lit by no less than five decadent chandeliers.

The basement of the office serves as a guest bedroom. A creative daybed designed by Wirges Shoults features two single-bed mattresses on a frame along with a number of hand-sewn pillows. “I wanted to do a built-in so it could sleep more,” she quips.

The couple built a complimentary house of brick and stucco next to the old schoolhouse and moved in about a year ago. The two buildings are joined by a majestic courtyard guarded by stone lion statues.

Every element of the aptly named Chateau de la Mirabelle was carefully hand-picked. “What I love is that every room has interesting touches of design flair,” Wirges Shoults says. From the highly embossed Lincrusta wallpaper, a type once seen on the walls of the Titanic, to the gold crown molding lining the heavenly tall ceilings, the end result is pure, high-end glamour.

The couple’s attention to detail is evident at every turn. “One of the things we did when we were designing it is that we wanted it to be wherever you looked, there would be a ‘wow,’” says Wirges Shoults, who holds a degree in graphic design from Platt College. “We really enjoyed putting our own personal touches on it.”

The process was a labor of love, with both sharing their ideas and time. The duo met online later in life after years of missed connections. They attended the same high school, Millard South. They lived in the same apartment complex, but never met. When Wirges Shoults lived in California, she later discovered that her daily drive to work passed by his mother’s house. Even upon recalling a memorable blizzard in Des Moines, the duo discovered they were both holed up in the same hotel, yet still didn’t meet.

Kelly and Randy have downsized from their previous home, mainly because they didn’t need the space. Also, the size of the home was determined by the space of the existing lot. “We moved from a house that had over 4,000 square feet and all we did was clean rooms that we never went into,” Shoults says. “We use every inch of this space.”

“We like each other,” Wirges Shoults says, “so we don’t have to escape each other like some couples do.”

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