Kiholo Bay, Kona, Hawaii, Retreat, Single Family Home, Interior Design
Hale Huna, meaning âsecret houseâ in Hawaiâian, is a hidden gem on the shore of the Kiholo Bay
Over dusty ranch roads through North Konaâs centuries-old lava fields, Hale Huna sits quietlyâsome even say stealthilyâon the shore of Kiholo Bay. Built for a couple of Silicon Valley veterans, this rural retreat on the Big Island of Hawaiâi simply does not want to be found. âItâs the only house within miles, and itâs completely off the grid,â says architect Greg Warner, principal of Walker Warner Architects in San Francisco. âSo we decided to really make it go away.â As such, hale huna means âsecret houseâ in the Hawaiian language.
Inspired by the plantation heritage of the islands, Warner, who grew up in Hawaiâi, designed two low-slung bungalows (a main gathering house and another for sleeping) with crisp lines and exteriors clad in the most agrarian of materials: corrugated metal darkly stained to cloak among the âaâa, or volcanic rock. Wide openings and deep lanais provide comfortable experiences at different times of dayârelative to the sun and the wind, that isâwhile framing the best possible views.
A mauka (mountainside) lanai is snuggled against the lava, a sheltered spot from Konaâs whipping trade winds with a wide perspective on starry evenings. The main bedroom is also auspiciously oriented in the same direction to catch the sunrise over the Mauna Kea, a sacred mountain. And the living roomâs full-height windows look makai (seaward), to capture the sunset as it casts colors from coral to cobalt over the coastâa line of sight that stretches to the northern tip of the island. âItâs like a painting,â says Warner. âIt gives you such an appreciation of the shape of the land.â
In a way, Hale Hunaâs strong and silent architecture exists to heighten Hawaiâiâs striking geography, from serrated shores to softly sloping volcanoes and all that craggy lava rock in between. The decor takes a different approach. âI did the opposite of what the architecture accomplishes so beautifully,â says Oakland, California, designer Jon de la Cruz. âInside, things have asymmetry and softness, a little island color and a lot of ease.â
Cultural textiles anchor the home, from batik bedding to upholstery that evokes the abstract patterns of traditional Hawaiâian tapa, or barkcloth. (In the lounge, a 2007 Richard Serra etching, Paths and Edges, also recalls the geometry and repetition of this Polynesian art form.) A bold graphic of spiky fan palms gives one guest bedroom a tropical punch, while custom clover-shaped side tables throughout the home are a subtler take on island botanicals. Designer de la Cruz created them as an homage to the leaves of the âohiâa lehua tree, a famous casualty of Peleâs wrath in Hawaiian mythology. (Pele is the goddess of fire and volcanoes in local lore.)
Against the modern architecture and sun-beaten landscape of sharp lava rock, the gentle curves of the interior design are ironically brazen. A soothing visual exhale, they also conjure the islandâs legendary liquid assets: Vintage Vladimir Kagan Freeform sofas in the living room, for instance, evoke Kiholo Bay in both their crescent shape and upholstery of ocean-hued antique Japanese boro quilts. Meanwhile, the wavy silhouette of the tiered T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings Mesa table, also in the living room, is reminiscent of tide pools.
Over in the primary bedroom, a âcircuit boardâ by San Francisco artist Windy Chien, who interpreted the slow skulk of molten lava in black rope and skillful knotting, serves as a room divider. And as a final touch, the homeâs hand-textured concrete floors and banana-fiber abaca rugs from the Philippines are deliberately beachy underfoot, a way of experiencing the mana, or healing power, of the location. âYou can practically feel the waves at your feet,â says de la Cruz.