Inspired by a childhood of memories in the area, Kauhale Kai, a complex and a home, was commissioned by clients that wanted to honor Polynesian and Hawaiian cultures in the design and material selections for the project. With this in mind, they hired de Reus Architects and interior designers at Saint Dizier Design to create a flowing, comprehensive 9,902-square-foot home that sits within the Mauna Kea Resort.

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white pavilions with thatched roofs

With views overlooking the western coast of Hawaii, Kauna’oa Bay sits just below Kauhale Kai. At the center of the design is the pool, and each traditional-style pavilion surrounds it in a web of connected corridors. The main hale, the kitchen hub, features a large gathering area that opens to the living room. From there, the exterior walls and natural landscaping lead to each of the other pavilions.

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pool next to white building
pathways connecting white pavilion buildings

The designers put a focus on creating a home the family could enjoy for decades while willfully compromising to match the traditional thatched-hut village settlements, known as kauhale, nearby. “Finding modernity, within this coastal community’s strict traditional design guidelines, was a point of emphasis,” de Reus Architects said.

living area with white furniture and wood table
living area with red chairs

The exterior appearance relies on an influence from Polynesian architecture with stepped ceiling forms and columns that mirror those in the dining pavilion, a design inspired by the Majapahit culture of Bali. Outdoor foliage is kept to a minimum to avoid distracting from the expansive coastline views, but native plants offer interest as well as a wayfinding element that guides guests from one area to another.

On the left, large white bed in white and wood room. On the right, bathroom with concrete floors
glass building with ocean in distance

Solar panels, increasingly prevalent across the sunny islands, are located out of sight on top of the garage pavilion. Perhaps the most striking features throughout the home come from the use of natural materials such as copper shingles, steel doors and windows, integral-color cement plaster, cedar eaves and travertine pavers. The home also features ohia wood cabinetry and floors as well as Hawaiian basalt stone accents.

+ de Reus Architects

Photography by Joe Fletcher via de Reus Architects

round hot tub beneath pergola