A Home That Reads 'Happy' - 405 Magazine

A Home That Reads ‘Happy’

When Jackie and Doug Johnson decided to build their new home in northeast Edmond, they had one primary request for their designer, Sara Crooks.

Photo by Emily Hart

When Jackie and Doug Johnson decided to build their new home in northeast Edmond, they had one primary request for their designer, Sara Crooks.

“I want to walk into this house and just read ‘happy,’” Jackie Johnson said, noting an affinity for color. “I want people to smile.”

The Johnsons moved into their new house in 2020. Today, the light and cheery home is full of life and energy. Sounds of family gatherings, Bible studies and dogs they work with a nonprofit to train resonate throughout. 

The Johnsons have a son, a daughter and four grandchildren, ranging from nine months to nine years in age. They pick up the older two grandchildren every day after school. The grandchildren have their own room with bunk beds and an upstairs loft area overlooking the living room that the Johnsons developed in what started as an afterthought; it is accessible by a secret spiral staircase in the garage and includes a tumbling mat, reading nooks and more.

“We built this house so we can have fellowship in it,” Jackie Johnson said. “God built this house. There’s no other explanation.” 

Working with architect Jim Hassenbeck, building contractor Doug Poff and Crooks, the Johnsons built their new home in the Prairie at Post addition at Post and Danforth near Arcadia, just north of what was Tom Price’s Sugar Hill addition a few years ago. 

“We couldn’t have done it without any of those [professionals],” Jackie Johnson said of Hassenbeck, Poff and Crooks.

Starting with Hassenbeck, who asked them how they wanted to live, their home-building team “took our descriptions and built a design around it,” Johnson said..

Crooks says she loves color, too, and she loves designing unique projects that reflect the lives of the people who live there.

“I never want any of my projects to look the same,” Crooks said. “My favorite part about doing design is creating spaces literally for people’s lives to unfold. [A home] really is like a stage set for their life. I think everyone should be able to be surrounded by things that make them feel like themselves.”

Outside the home, large front porches on multiple sides and a weathervane that features dogs give a slight nod to the farmhouse style, but inside, the abode has a different feel, with modern technology and a colorful style that works for children and adults. 

When visitors first walk in, they are standing in a large open space that includes the dining room, living room and kitchen, as well as a “keeping room” with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves to the side. The large, cathedral-style ceilings stretch two stories tall and have clerestory windows that flood the space with light. The room is covered in wood, with vertical planks in the upper half and some horizontal wood elements in the lower half.

“In this large room, it made sense to wrap it in wood in a way that celebrated the architecture and warmed up the space,” Crooks said. “There’s always some sort of design challenge that you have to solve, and I think that the challenge in this space was how to give human scale to such a large volume of space.”

Other touches to scale down the space include the dining area’s lower ceiling to give a more intimate feel, lots of colors and textures in the fabrics and specially made pendant lights to anchor the space above the kitchen island. 

Doug Johnson is a retired oil and gas executive, and Jackie Johnson is a retired family nurse practitioner. To their grandchildren, they are “Grumpy” and “JJ.” 

When they aren’t caring for grandchildren, they help socialize and train service dogs for the nonprofit New Leash on Life.  Their passion for dogs is evident throughout the house: In addition to the weathervane, they have several split Dutch doors in rooms, especially where their dogs are sometimes contained, to allow them to keep the bottom half closed but open the top half. One spacious room, designed especially for the dogs, has a dog door that lets them come and go. The delightful James Shelton wallpaper features colorful, cheerful canines. 

“We built the house for our grandchildren and our children — and for the service dogs,” Jackie Johnson said.

In the end, Crooks planned a big reveal for the Johnsons, ready to see them “read happy” as they toured their new home.

“It was fun to come out and see it come to life,” Doug Johnson said.