Fundraiser lets area folks peek at local homes

LAUREL — Rich and Ellen Erwin, Angela Abts,  Kevin Duncan and Severt Philleo all opened their homes recently for a festive Tour of Homes here.

Rich and Ellen like to affectionately call their home,  “The Log.” “So many people have asked to see the house, so this is the chance for the community to see it,’’ Ellen Erwin said.

The lot was purchased in 1982. Forty spruce trees were planted in 1990 surrounding the lot. When they began to prepare for the house they started looking at magazines and visited several homes in the Midwest.  

In 2014, they drew up plans with Joslin Construction of Fordyce. Ground was broken in August 2015. The exterior was constructed in the winter with all Ponderosa pine logs from Utah.

Rich, along with friends, did the finish work which was completed for a March 2017 move in.  The couple’s open floor plan is unique with no steps and plenty of room for family including seven grandchildren.

The kids like the loft where they can watch TV and hang out. Ellen’s grand piano and several pieces of her Mother’s furniture are in a room off the family room.

In the walk-out basement, the Erwins have two bedrooms and a bath; also a rec room with a pool table and ping pong table.  

Rich’s shop is under the garage where he does projects for himself and his grandkids.

He built a lot of barn-wood furniture for the family room. Landscaping was done by daughter,  Tara Klausen, and Country Nursery, Wayne.

One of the others helping with the decorating project was Jenn Jonas, Crow’s Nest Antiques.  The Erwin house was decorated mainly in fall decor with a section of Christmas.  

“I enjoy decorating for Christmas the most and usually do a 12-foot real Christmas tree. I asked Jonas to help me since she has so much nice stuff in her store,’’ said Ellen.  “We have a beautiful view to the northeast.”

The Erwin’s have three children, Todd, who lives on the family farm north of Laurel; Tara Klausen, Wayne; and Tyler, a coach at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

The second house on this year’s Tour of Homes was Angela Abts.  

Her home included a special Swedish room as a remembrance of a special maternal grandma that recently passed away. Visitors were able to see three generations of heirlooms collected over the years.

A special Christmas tree with Swedish straw ornaments on the tree was on display.   The straw ornaments that she used included angels, snowflakes and other shapes.

“My grandma took us to a festival and bought angel ornaments for us,’’ Abts said.”I added a few to fill the tree. Grandma would have loved the tree.’’

Decorating her own home, she said, it all depends on how much you want to put out to get ready to be featured on the tour.

“You are pulling out memories when you pull out ornaments from the box,’’ Abts said.  

Also on display was a Nativity, a Christmas tree and a sewing room with quilts.

The traditional quilts, included several Abts made for her Grandma that are now hers.

Kevin Duncan and Severt Philleo’s home was also featured in this year’s Tour of Homes. Both working in Wayne, Philleo said they looked around for a place and found a house in Laurel.

“We moved from Dallas, Texas,’’ Philleo said. “We were going to move to another country, then decided it was a toss-up between Hawaii and Nebraska. We chose Nebraska since Kevin has family here.’’

The house was built in 1964.

“We knew it had to be. When I saw it, I thought it is such a beautiful little house. It has to be the best little house in Nebraska.’’ The house was previously owned by the Cunninghams.

‘’We walked into the house and opened the curtains of the picture window. We looked out onto the lawn next door to us, no alley, no wall. We had been living in condominiums and places with balconies that overlook other balconies.”

Duncan and Philleo have been involved in a number of remodeling and painting projects, both inside and outside the home.

“We are replacing the floors. We have taken out one wall. We’ve turned a laundry room into a formal dining room. All the woodwork throughout is original. It is all blonde honey colored,’’ Philleo said. “It is perfect for our paintings. The watercolors and other works cannot have direct sunlight. We have a lot of light, however not direct light.’’

“Creative work by Greta Smith and Meghan O’Connor are featured. Three statement pieces of fresh flowers were made by a friend for the tour,’’ Philleo said. “I’m from a family of people that open their houses to people. It’s interesting but never in this way. We like to have people over and make food.’’

Northeast Nebraska News Company

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