Tag Archives: G. Lee Homes

A Model for 

July 25, 2018 by
Photography by Chris Ruhaak

Talk about adapting.

Since last August, the Minderman home (located west of 204th Street where Elkhorn meets horse country) has been in the throes of an overhaul. The scope of the project—from top to bottom, stem to stern—could send HGTV’s popular remodeling hosts gasping for breath.  

Dr. David Minderman, a neonatologist at Methodist Women’s Hospital, his wife Maria, and their three children have spent the past year listening to a chorus of hammers, saws, and drills. They’ve stepped gingerly around torn-up floors and torn-down walls, reconfigured their living space three times, and have gotten to know managers at several nearby restaurants on a first-name basis. 

Upgrades to the 25-year-old, two-story stone home began innocently enough. 

“We knew when we bought the house five years ago that we would redo the kitchen,” Maria says. “It didn’t have enough natural light and the appliances were outdated. The powder rooms and master bath, which are also on the first floor, needed work.”


One necessity led to another. Adding eight feet to he kitchen required doing the same to the basement. In addition, the natural stone fireplace in the living room malfunctioned and leaked.  The main staircase, which curved at the bottom, called for a redesign to facilitate walking to the new patio door. 

The Mindermans’ contractor, Greg Frazell of G. Lee Homes, understood the couple’s vision and mapped it all out, with one suggestion.

“Greg said it would be best to get the entire first floor and the partial basement remodel done all at once instead of in stages,” says Maria, who grew up on a farm in Honey Creek, Iowa. “So we brought everything we needed upstairs to the second floor. That’s where we lived for over seven months.”

 The five family members, including Olivia (15), Tristan (13), and Brooks (11), made do with one tub, a small plastic shower in a 5-by-8 foot bathroom, and a family room that doubled as David and Maria’s bedroom. 

Meals became Maria’s great adventure. 

A bar in a section of the basement not under construction became the family kitchen. Maria didn’t have a stove, but she added a toaster oven, an electric skillet, and an air fryer to the bar’s small refrigerator and even smaller sink. Mealtime may have been cramped, but it worked. 

Then Maria got that familiar glint in her eye.

“What would it cost to paint the bar area and put in a new sink and a granite top?” she wondered. 

It cost the family home-cooked meals. 

With the makeshift kitchen suddenly out of commission and no sink to wash dishes, the Mindermans dined out during the last month-and-a-half of the first-floor renovation. Hy-Vee’s Chinese buffet, Jimmy Johns, Chipotle (“the kids love anything with rice and chicken”), Mama’s Pizza, and lettuce wraps at Greenbelly filled the void. 

Construction crews came to the rescue of David and Maria’s waistlines in mid-March. They unveiled the main floor, just in time to enter the home in the Remodel Omaha Tour, sponsored by the Metro Omaha Builders Association. The public came away impressed.

Sunlight pours through new windows into the kitchen, which now shares an open floor plan with the adjoining sitting room. The kitchen addition, with its separate entrance off the driveway, contains a huge pantry, laundry room, and desk.

Walls and cabinets match in pale gray, accented with white trim. The panel-ready refrigerator mimics the cabinets, its wooden doors painted to match and adorned with the same hardware. 

The industrial stove’s Carrara marble backsplash, with an arabesque pattern cut from antique mirror, adds an intricate and delicate touch.

 The kitchen sink now rests inside a 10-foot-long center island, allowing the family to look into the sitting room and talk to each other or guests while cleaning up.  

A dark-stained beam fashioned out of barn wood runs along the ceiling above the island. A single light pendant with smoked glass, weathered iron, and a huge throwback Edison bulb hangs over the island—just two of many eye-catching touches Maria discovered while working closely with Angie Hall, design consultant with G. Lee Homes.

“We have very similar tastes,” says Hall, who also serves as project coordinator. “Maria didn’t want anything trendy that would date the house in a short time. The look is classic and comfortable with touches of rustic.”

Normalcy lasted only until the end of the home tour. By early April, the entire second floor was shut down for a complete overhaul.

This time, the family set up three beds in the newly refurbished basement and dragged bedding, all the kids’ clothes, and the necessary electronics downstairs. 

Did any family revolutions break out?

“My husband is a really easy-going person and the kids did really well,” Maria says. “But there were a few skirmishes about ‘mom and her stupid idea to remodel,’ after we had to stop sleepovers with their friends.”

True to her nurse’s training, Maria remains cool, calm, and loving, but holds fast to the plan. 

“I keep telling them to remember our motto: ‘No crying until August 2018.’” 

And if construction goes beyond that date?

Maria thinks for a minute before answering with typical wry humor, “Then, we’ll talk about it.”

Visit omahasbuilder.com for more information about the home’s contractor, G. Lee Homes.

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of OmahaHome. 

Everything in its Place

June 21, 2015 by
Photography by Colin Conces

Article originally published in May/June 2015 edition of Omaha Home.

When you first pull up to Zach and Courtney Carle’s home off 192nd and Dodge in Elkhorn, you might think, “Wow, they have a really nice house.”

You’d be right.

But when Courtney greets you at the front door, you won’t enter one of those cavernous McMansions that embodies the worst aspects of American housing over the past couple decades.

Instead, you’re welcomed into a home that balances light and dark, friendly and ambitious, modern and traditional. Think natural stone chimney, hardwood floors, and a purple chalkboard wall for the oldest daughter. The place is gorgeous, yet understated and slightly quirky, like George Clooney.






“Organized chaos” is another way to put it. The Carles will repeat that phrase several times over the course of our walkthrough.

Zach, a pharmaceutical sales specialist, and Courtney, a nurse, are the parents of four active children; Izabella (4), Camden (7), Jaxson (11), and Olivia (14). Dolls, action figures, sports gear, LEGOs, stuffed animals, art, homework, and digital devices abound. As the family grew, the Carles realized their old house simply couldn’t keep up. They needed a place to organize the chaos.

So, a few years ago, they started working with Greg Frazell of G. Lee Homes. This proved to be a wise choice. As a father of five, Frazell understood the organizational challenges a large family faces.

One of the most vital issues? Food. Both Zach and Courtney spend a lot of time travelling around Omaha for their professions and have little time to visit the grocery store, so Frazell sketched up what he thought would be an ample pantry.


“I told him to go back to the drawing board,” Courtney chuckles. The original design was half the size the family had envisioned.

Frazell took it to heart. Honeycombed with shelves, the pantry as built could pass for a small food bank. Industrial-sized cereal boxes loom high overhead—telltale signs of a Costco membership.

The rest of the house follows suit, maximizing every nook and cranny of interstitial space to keep clutter at bay. Clothes, shoes, toys, and the attendant supplies of modern life seem vacuum-packed into cubby holes. It all looks simple enough (ingenious things often do) but the overall effect is one of logistical brilliance.

With the family’s potential morass of physical matter under control, the house is free to breathe. Indeed, if a house can be said to flow, this house flows. A cozy entryway beckons you past the home office, where a sliding barn door offers solitude, and into a living room capped by a 20-foot-high ceiling. Echoing the myriad storage elements throughout the house, the living room is checkered with windows that offer a perfect view of summer storms.

From there, the house spills into an open-concept kitchen where a granite-topped island sink splits the flow into two branches. One course leads to the three-car garage and the other to the pantry and dining room, which is recessed from the kitchen and vaulted like a nave. Hung from the apex, a stunning chandelier flashes bits of sunshine at the visitor. This placement is strategic: hung in the entryway, the chandelier’s beveled tears might look gaudy—like an earring worn by a Godzilla-sized Elizabeth Taylor. But above the dining room table, the fixture brightens the space without ostentation.


The spacious living room/kitchen/dining area serves as the nucleus of the house. It’s custom-built to encourage interaction between the Carles, their kids, and the innumerable neighborhood children who breeze through on any given day. The neighborhood is a tight-knit community, so it’s crucial for Courtney to be able to pursue her passion for cooking while still getting to hang out with everyone.

In fact, besides Elkhorn Public Schools’ reputation for a rigorous education, the frenzy of youthful activity is what initially drew the Carles to the neighborhood two years ago.

“We loved that there were 5,000 kids running around the streets when we pulled in,” Courtney says.

With sometimes up to nine extra kids in the house, bathrooms were a key design consideration. Brothers Camden and Jaxson share one, as do sisters Izabella and Olivia. Nobody has to fight for a sink. Downstairs, Mom and Dad have what could pass for a spa, with its huge echo-chamber shower, presidential bathtub, and hexagonal flooring, a throwback look you’d expect to find in a home in Dundee, not out here on the edge of cornfields.

“We didn’t want it to age or succumb to what’s trendy now,” Zach explains, tapping the tile with the heel of his shoe. “We like the white subway tiles.”

This urge toward practicality and timelessness sums up the philosophy on which the house is built.

As does the sign in the pantry entryway: “Today’s Menu: Eat it or starve.”