July 20, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

From the road, Roseanne and Mike Kielians’ house looks like a roof with no house under it. Just a roof. The houses to the left and right look like houses. But it appears as if the Kielians bought a roof, then ran out of money for the stuff underneath it.

Fear not. Just park the car and walk down the steps beside the roof. As you descend, a lake appears before you and an actual house—a lovely contemporary beach house—appears beneath that once lonely roof.

From the lake at Hawaiian Village south of Papillion the Kielians’ semi earth home takes on a very different look. From this angle, perched on the lake’s high bank line, it’s more like some contemporary cliff dwelling. Thanks to the one-story-tall water feature Mike built in 2002, the house gives a slight tip of the hat to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.

Whatever, if any, the grand influences for this unique home, it’s a special place for its owners, who purchased the 33-year-old home in 1998.

“It’s our paradise,” says Roseanne, who, like her husband, Mike, is retired. “We fish, boat, listen to the waterfall, anything. It’s peaceful or rollicking—whatever you want it to be.”

The Kielians most recent remodel came six years ago. As with so many updatings, the upscale contemporary kitchen was the priciest and most involved.

But here, the eye is most drawn to those falls cascading down the bank line as if an artesian spring bubbled up below the house’s foundation. Amazingly, the extensive water feature was a first-time project for Mike 12 years ago. The falls took him a couple months to build, his wife says. It quickly became a labor of love—with a bit of obsession thrown in.

“He was pretty focused on that once he got started,” she says. “It was his masterpiece. The whole family got involved with it, too. It was a major project for us all.”

To match the development’s playful Hawaiian theme (Perhaps a bit kitschy, a little out-of-place in Nebraska? Nah.), the Kielians added some tropical flourishes themselves. Most notably: The “Bumba Shack,” a thatched hut that sits next to the water where friends and family can gather for drinks and socializing.

This exotic feature, which Mike constructed as a surprise gift to his wife, is homage to a beach bar the family enjoyed while on a vacation to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

“The Bumba Shack kind of speaks to the whole mood of the place,” Roseanne says. “It’s fun, it’s casual. It’s just a very easy livin’ kind of place.”

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