December 28, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As the sun slowly sets beyond the horizon, the circadian rhythms of Dean and Robyn Powell signal their descent into the basement of their home. Lambent flames from the fireplace deliver a comforting invite to linger in its warmth on chilly nights.

A street view of the Powells’ home could certainly fool the naked eye into believing it has existed for a century or longer. External stone walls and dark wooden beams give the illusion of a classical house rooted within Omaha’s history, yet it was erected less than a decade ago.

During summer 2015, the Powells excitedly began renovating their new home near 90th and Farnam streets. Without uprooting the original creation by the initial owners and builders, the Powells set out to personalize their living space. Together, they remodeled the interior structure in a way that harmonizes their lifestyle and aesthetical preferences while respecting the existing architecture.

The main floor comes to life during the daytime hours. Natural light peeping through the massive windows accentuates the classically designed wood floors, vaulted ceilings, and white furnishings.

The remodeled house called for a new seasonal routine after completion of the magnificent basement fireplace. When darkness falls upon the Powell home, the main floor retires its duties to the basement, and the fireplace becomes the focal point of household activities.

Similar to the home itself, the fireplace is a result of multiple forces cooperating to create a fresh design. After sketching the project for the new basement addition, the Powells contacted Claxton Fireplace Center and Flair Custom Cabinets in February 2018 to implement their vision.

The Powells were accustomed to media rooms; indeed, a media room was their original plan for the basement. While they ultimately decided against this idea, the urge to incorporate an immense television for entertainment remained. The classical integrity of the architecture played a pivotal role in their planning, and they wanted to match stone from the home’s exterior. Finally, they desired the basement to offer a comforting, evening oasis with warm, earthy tones. The challenge became how to incorporate a big-screen television without sacrificing their other needs.

“Let’s put a fireplace in. That way we get the best of both worlds,” Robyn recalls saying.

For Dan Claxton, president of Claxton Fireplace Center, the puzzle was how to prevent damage to the television caused by the fireplace. Claxton and his team designed a venting system to guide the heat behind the television cabinet instead of directly through the vertical face of the fireplace. After months of laborious collaboration, the heart and soul of the Powells’ basement was finished.

An 86-inch television fills the wall, framed with towering Birchwood cabinets. But onlookers’ eyes are drawn below to the 6-foot-wide natural stone veneer fireplace. It is an incredible display of symbiosis between old and new technology.

Prior to the fireplace, the Powells seldom used their basement. Once the project was complete, that all changed.

“The fireplace creates an ambiance that gives the feeling of a multi-purpose space where we can relax by the fire and read a book, watch a movie, write, or even entertain family and friends,” Robyn says.

It is this indulgent glow of flames coming from the basement that contributes to the living quality of the Powells’ home. When the sun ceases to bless the main floor with life, the softly lit basement offers comfort and a place to unwind.

The Powells see endless opportunities hidden within the glimmering fireplace. It represents an area to celebrate the holidays surrounded by the warmth of family. Soft flames dancing beneath the television allow them to watch a movie or enjoy their favorite sporting events in a relaxed environment. The fireplace acts as a centerpiece to work around in their continued creative effort to blend classic and modern styles into a harmonious living environment. Most importantly, it is a vital part to the rhythmic balance of the home that will be a reflection of the Powells for years to come.


Visit claxtonfireplace.com for more information.

This article was printed in the January/February 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.