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Omaha Magazine

A Sanctuary of Sight: Home Office in Hawaiian Village

Aug 27, 2021 04:02PM ● By Karen Campbell
desk covered in plants looks outdoors

Photo by Bill Sitzmann    

Bradley and Kim Johnson and their two sons have lived in their Hawaiian Village home for seven years. Throughout that time, they—and their lakefront home—have experienced a flood, a tornado, and a fire (sparked by stray fireworks). 

All three disasters caused substantial home damage. However, the historic Midwest floods of spring 2019 proved most destructive, unleashing three feet of water into their finished basement and damaging all the rooms, including a less-than-inspiring home office. A full basement remodel ensued shortly after cleanup.

Bradley, a senior network analyst at Mutual of Omaha who worked minimally from home prior to March 2020 (and mostly at the family’s kitchen table when he did), put into action his long-term vision for the home office.

“Little did we know at the time what a good decision it was to renovate the office exactly as Brad had envisioned it,” said Kim,
a human resources generalist at Lozier. The pandemic would hit just months later, requiring him to work from home full time. 

Bradley said he initially questioned putting the same large-pane windows featured in the basement family room in the office as well, uncertain the big expense was worth it. 

“I didn’t understand how much I would be using that space,” he said. “In hindsight, putting in the windows was an extremely good investment. I looked at that space and it was so dark. My instinct told me to just put in the windows.”

The large glass panes allow Bradley to enjoy a sanctuary of sight throughout his workday. Bald eagles, hummingbirds, groundhogs, otters, great blue herons, and hundreds of migrating pelicans have become his office companions of sorts.

Sugar, the family’s Boston terrier, also pays him regular visits, particularly “when the mom and kids are gone,” he said.

Bradley’s vision for a clean-lined, freestyle desk was realized using a 12-foot slab of American walnut butcher block paired with IKEA cabinets perched on two custom wood boxes. The boxes were built by a friend, while Bradley sanded and sealed the butcher block with a natural finish. 

Maneuvering the butcher block desktop into the small room proved quite a chore.

“It was not easy, and I wish we’d had the foresight to put the desk in before the windows were installed,” Bradley said.

The Johnsons wanted the look of natural wood flooring in the office and throughout the entire basement, but did not want the risk of damage natural wood brings. Luxury vinyl tile—waterproof and easy to maintain, and with grooves that give the appearance of natural wood—served as a great alternative.

While much of the office restoration was done by Bradley and friends, William Dillon Construction (whose owner is a personal friend of the Johnsons) completed the window installation, trim work, and drywall. 

Bradley, who has a degree in electrical engineering, installed the office’s canned lighting; though he rarely needs to use it as the windows gift the room abundant sunlight.

An aerial photo of Hawaiian Village, yoga mats, family pictures, and a coin display sit atop a high shelf in the office. The display, made by Bradley’s uncle, holds old tokens from Bradley’s grandfather’s bar in Scribner, Nebraska. Back in the day, he explained, “The tokens were given out for work […], then exchanged for libations.”

Though the multiple home disasters were arduous and costly, both Bradley and Kim admit they’re glad the events accelerated their plans to create a more contemporary space of their traditional home. 

Bradley hosted a gathering for his co-workers in June, the first meetup since before the pandemic. He delighted in celebrating with many of the same people who helped his family through their misfortunes and rebuilding process.

“We are so grateful to everyone who played a huge part in helping us get though the flood and all that followed after,” Kim said. “We don’t know what we would have done without them.”