This Hawaiian Beach House Might Be the Closest Thing to a Summer Camp (and We Love It!)
Maybe it's never too late to go back to summer camp. That was Architect Greg Warner's hunch when he began sketching a nontraditional design plan for his clients' lot on the Kona side of the Big Island, sandwiched between mountains and sea. His clients wanted a Hawaiian getaway that could accommodate family and friends, something laid-back, a place where they could watch the sun rise over the mountains in the morning and sink into the Pacific in the evening.
Inspired by Campfire
It would need to have an openness, he decided, while still bringing people together. And it would need to connect to the region's history: "In the 1930s and "40s, most of the homes on the Big Island—whether along the coast or tucked up in the mountains—had a ranch feeling to them. They felt a little campy," says Warner, who grew up in nearby North Kohala. An open-air compound reminiscent of a rustic (but thoroughly modernized) sleepaway camp slowly began taking shape. Interior designers Marion Philpotts-Miller and Ginger Lunt even channeled inspiration from a Kaua'i camp that Philpotts-Miller frequented as a child: 1930s-era Camp Sloggett. (The name alone brings back the sounds of canoe hulls bumping up against each other!) The result is a contemporary spin on those nostalgic ideals. Here, a look at a few of the hallmarks the groovy house shares with those crash courses in nature and community of our youth.
You Walk Outside to Get Your Breakfast
Though the house is 4,500 square feet, they're spread out over six primary hales, or cabins: a main building featuring a kitchen and casual dining room, family room, master suite, and expansive lānai; two guest hales; a wash house; a garage; and a tiki bar. "The buildings all connect around a large lawn, which encourages everyone to spend time together in the communal areas, just like you would at a camp," says Warner. To ensure that each hale is well-positioned to catch the breeze, he and his team camped out on the lot for a night before putting pencil to paper to draw up the design plan.
Watching TV Is a B-List Activity
At summer camp, screen time plays second fiddle. So the designers hid the TV behind a 30- by 45-inch framed map of the Big Island. "What's great is that this particular map shows where each of the pu'u [hills] are that the cabins are named after," says Philpotts-Miller.
Everything Feels A Little Old-School
Philpotts-Miller wanted the interiors to exude a collected, retro feel, so she scoured secondhand stores and collector shows around Hawai'i to find scores like these vintage monkey pod–leaf chairs (inset) that she reupholstered with a Lee Jofa fabric. "My client loved the idea of going on treasure hunts to find furniture and accessories that feel at home here," the designer says. Just above the custom pūne'e (daybed) sits a collection of koa wood coconut balls Philpotts-Miller and the homeowner collected during their shopping trips.
The Days Start At Sunrise—Period
Warner designed the kitchen's roofline "high and upward toward views of the mountains," he says, so that the owners could see the sun creep up over the peaks. Similarly, the l?nai's roofline angles "low and downward toward views of the ocean and coastline." The team kept both the interior and exterior palettes minimal and organic: western red cedar on many of the interior walls, and cedar shake and teak on the hales' exteriors.
It's Not Glamping (OK, It Probably Is)
The team opted for "rustic camp-house kitchen" over "modern marvel." In lieu of heavy wood finishes, Lunt and Philpotts-Miller painted the teak cabinetry avocado green to draw the colors of the landscape in. An oversize window above the kitchen sink mirrors the massive sliding barn-door entrance, which provides a seamless view from mountain to ocean. The barstools are rattan, and the flooring is super durable stained concrete.
All the Bedrooms Have Names
Using the surroundings as inspiration, each of the cabin bedrooms is named after a nearby hill or beach. In the Kolekole guest hale, the palm box-spring covers are traditional barkcloth, and the checked fabric is an old-school Hawaiian plaid cotton called palaka, which was most commonly worn by Hawaiian plantation workers in the 1930s and "40s. "Growing up, I would see this pattern in every form: quilts, shirts, pillows," says Philpotts-Miller. "I loved the idea of bringing in references to a bygone era."