The Johnstons’ Sleek Retreat - 405 Magazine

The Johnstons’ Sleek Retreat

The Johnstons’ home on the links is a sleek, modern work of art – and thanks to the design of architect Bruce Bockus, the exterior is every bit as striking as its interior.


It’s the neighborhood and its golf course that Jay Johnston loves the most. He grew up in Quail Creek and had often thought about returning again, ideally to a home on the links. Johnston, a custom home builder and weekly golfer, and Kristi, a community volunteer, Pilates enthusiast and interior design virtuoso, had lived briefly in Quail Creek, and had also done stints in Hidden Creek and on Country Club Place.

The couple has lived in half a dozen homes, counting this one, over the course of their 20 years together. Will it be their last?

“Well, I’m kind of ready for another project. I’m joking. Kind of,” Kristi says, laughing. Jay, who seems well aware that Kristi has a really high energy level and a penchant for interior design projects, doesn’t bat an eye, and simply nods his assent.

The pair met on a blind date in 1994. “It was supposed to be a large group of people, but ended up just being three. It’s funny, but what stands out about the timing was that it was during all the O.J. Simpson stuff, and everyone was talking about it,” she says. “Our first date was at Tommy’s Italian in Northpark Mall.”

A year later, they married and blended their families. All together they have three children – “We’ve got yours, mine and ours,” she says.  Two of the three, a son and a daughter, are each 27 years old. “Charlie, our 18-year-old, just graduated from Bishop McGuinness and is getting ready to leave for college. He’s going to Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado.”


(above) The Johnstons razed the home that had formerly stood on their beautiful Quail Creek lot, and with the help of architect Bruce Bockus, constructed a masterpiece in the California Contemporary style.

That leaves a pretty big, empty hole in the Johnston nest, but luckily they’ve got Bella, an affable, rotund King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, to fill the void. As the pair chats, Bella wanders through, requests and receives a treat, and shuffles off.

The home itself was designed by noted local architect Bruce Bockus, principal at Bockus-Payne Associates, and the Johnstons moved in in 2014. “We’d met Bruce a long time ago and I’d always wanted to work with him, and he was incredible. I really can’t say enough good things about Bruce. We met with him several times, just talking about what we needed and how we’d use the space and then gave him free rein. And we love the house,” Jay says. 

 (top left) Overhead, above the family-sized Jonathan Adler table and chairs, a chandelier by the same designer floats like a gaggle of friendly fireflies. “At Christmastime, I hang delicate glass balls on it, and it’s so pretty,” Kristi says.  Interior walls are limestone, and underfoot, the concrete floors are richly pigmented because they are dyed, not stained, giving the color tremendous depth.

(bottom left) Rich shades of blue are used in the living room’s seating area, anchoring the large space. A deft use of plants adds to the sensation that the line between indoors and outdoors is distinctly blurred. A wood-burning fireplace warms the space in the winter, when the golf course wears a mantle of fluffy white snow. The room’s large dimensions allow Kristi to host seated dinners for as many as 40 guests.

 (right) Spacious enough for a substantial crowd, the Johnstons’ living room is arranged so Kristi and Jay can share cozy moments too, often with their King Charles Cavalier Spaniel Bella.

(top) The kitchen is the room that started it all. “I’d seen this Italian kitchen cabinet company’s designs at a function at a showroom in Tulsa,” Jay says. “They were new and different, and so clean and beautifully engineered. I appreciate precision at such a high level. And it was so cool, and we said ‘let’s do this.’” The couple sold everything and started fresh, inspired by the clean lines of Valcucine cabinetry.

(bottom) Virtually the entire back wall of the house is glass, allowing a flood of natural light to bathe every room, and the home’s occupants to enjoy the rolling beauty of the golf course. The glass doors open accordion-style, allowing the Johnstons and their guests to enjoy the outdoor living space, complete with a fire pit, big-screen television, pool, hot tub and comfy furnishings. “We love to open up all the doors and have parties,” Kristi says.