A Mainland developer known for building master-planned communities of modern homes in the 1950s and 1960s ventured outside of his usual territory when he designed this house on Mokulua Drive in Lanikai. California’s Joseph Eichler was like Hawaii’s Vladimir Ossipoff of the time.
Typical of Eichler’s style, this one-story house was considered modern in the 1960s. It had a vaulted, open-beam combed cedar ceiling --— common in old Lanikai homes, but rarely seen today — tongue-and-groove old-growth redwood walls separating rooms into small, private spaces, and creamy terrazzo flooring throughout.
“There are a lot of elements that Eichler used in this house that are classic, mid-century modern,” says interior designer Jenn Johnson of Indigo Republic. “I’m pretty sure it’s the only Eichler home in Hawaii.”
But one design element Ossipoff included in his residential designs that was lacking in this house, was natural airflow.
The bedrooms on the makai side of the house blocked trade winds from blowing past their interior walls. The small, closed-off kitchen was especially hot and completely obstructed from natural ventilation.
“It was a very hot house,” the homeowner says.
But there was a lot he and his family could appreciate about the house and its existing design. They wanted to keep its style through the remodel, while adding an open kitchen, more square footage and a second floor for a master suite.
“We decided to use the kitchen as the bridge between the old and the new,” the homeowner says.
It is the meeting point between the older parts of the house and the addition.
It was impossible to match the now 60-year-old terrazzo flooring due to its age, so, instead, a white-based terrazzo brings contrast. “It works well, because there are specks of the other colors in the white terrazzo,” Johnson says.
The kitchen, designed by Corrine Tadaki-Davis of Plus Interiors, is modern by today’s standards, while complementing the mid-century-modern style of the rest of the house. Flat-panel wenge lower cabinets anchor the kitchen’s two-tone look and bring warmth, while lift-up, flat-panel maple doors painted white keep the upper cabinets light.
“It is a modern-style kitchen, but the dark wenge wood bridges the old and the new and keeps line and the ceiling are all tied together and have the same feel,” the homeowner says. “We preserved the original ceiling in the rest of the house and it all connects.”
A new staircase with a custom stainless steel IC Railing system from Pacific American Lumber leads to the master suite. The homeowners opted not to have any walls in this space, except for privacy to the his-and-hers urinal and toilet.
“The master bedroom was all about the view of the ocean,” Johnson says. The bed “floats” in the middle of the room, anchored by the custom headboard made from the walls of the house itself. A soaking tub, along with sinks and storage from Plus Interiors’ Exotic Woodlines collection, are just around the corner, but not separated by a wall.
A large walk-in closet has a custom-blue barn door that matches the one in the kitchen, both built by the Libries.
Today, the more-open house has natural ventilation, with the trade winds blowing through new Breezway louver windows. Its redesign gives the homeowners the open space they wanted, while keeping with the original character of the house Eichler designed.