A Hawaiian Timber Frame Home

A Hawaiian dream home melds indoor and outdoor living.

Picture a place in paradise; a home where warm tropical breezes waft off the Pacific Ocean through doors and windows looking out over pristine waters. This is the dream home Thunder Enterprises imagined on Hawaii’s Big Island. As a developer, Thunder Enterprises had been building spec homes in the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, region for two decades. During that time, they collaborated on several projects with Sun Valley, Idaho, architect Jim McLaughlin. Jim’s work for other clients included designing homes on the Big Island in the Kuki’o Golf and Beach Club community.

Going With the Flow

Thunder Enterprises jumped at the opportunity to buy several lots in the private oceanfront club and residential community at Kuki’o. Their aim was to build a single-family home that fit naturally with the historical setting of Hawaii; one that would have connected living areas with a flow between the interior and exterior spaces to take advantage of both ocean and mountain views. Among the attributes of the two-acre lot is its location: A state park that can never be developed sits between the lot and the ocean and acts as a natural buffer between the public beach and private property. A walking trail through the development is adjacent to the home and provides easy access to the beach or the community pavilion. Jim’s plan for the property called for three separate buildings with a Douglas fir superstructure timber frame system visually tying them together and giving the appearance of one large structure. A self-contained main house for the owners, a separate guest house and a two-car garage would be connected via a series of covered walkways. Jim wrapped steel support beams with Douglas fir, and incorporated heavy timber rafters and trusses to add to the feeling of a full timber frame throughout. On the exterior, he used turned, mahogany-wrapped steel columns for added elegance. “I envisioned a South Pacific home in keeping with the heritage of the location but with a contemporary flair,” Jim says. At 100 feet above sea level, the home offers magnificent views of Kua Bay. On a clear day, the island of Maui is visible. “We rotated the axis of the home on the lot to take fullest advantage of these views.”

Indoors and Out

Jim’s vision for the luxury home resulted in a total of 6,000 square feet of air-conditioned indoor living space on one level surrounded by lanais. The footprint of the main home includes a common area flanked by two mirror-image wings. To the left of the great room/dining room is the huge master bedroom suite with a full bath, walk-in closet and private lanai. To the right of the great room/dining room is the kitchen with the breakfast room tucked in to a glassed-in nook. On one side of the kitchen is the family room while the formal powder room, walk-in pantry and utility room are found on the other. To maintain a sense of private space in the guest living quarters, Jim positioned the three guest bedrooms, each with its own adjoining bath, around the perimeter of a central core containing the guest sitting area and utility room. This also allows semi-secluded lanais for each bedroom connected by walkways if guests want to mingle. The two-car garage also includes a bay to park golf carts. Thunder Enterprises enlisted Pride Timberworks to cut and erect the frame, with its fir logs harvested in Oregon. Mary Philpotts, owner of Philpotts and Associates, Inc., acted as the interior designer and oversaw the task of decorating the home in accordance with her client’s wishes. “The clients asked that we interpret an appropriate lifestyle for the Kuki’o profile,” Mary says. “It is informal, relaxed and functional.” To further enhance the flow between the interior and exterior living spaces, she incorporated fabrics reflecting the colors of the surrounding landscape. She coordinated the colors of the wooden furnishings to mimic the tones of the richly stained Douglas fir timber frame. Select rattan pieces match the texture of the bamboo grass matting in the ceiling. Outdoor living is a way of life in Hawaii, and Jim attached an outdoor shower to each of the home’s indoor bathroom facilities so the owners and their guests can rinse off after playing in the sand or before a dip in the pool. Mary used salvaged fence posts from Indonesia that were carved in the likeness of primitive statues as the support for the free-standing outdoor shower heads. Because the home is located on the arid side of the island in a natural lava field, landscaping was a challenge undertaken by landscape architect David Tamura. “The Big Island of Hawaii is a volcanic island with evidence of recent lava flow,” David says. His goal: “To nestle the house into this lava landscape and give it the appearance of an oasis.” David incorporated native lush plants, such as Kiawe and palm trees, and added tropical flowering plants for color accents and fragrance, including flowering white plumeria, commonly used in Hawaiian leis, to take away the starkness of the black lava and provide a cool, green and inviting setting. Because the home is within the Kuki’o Golf and Beach Club, he planted grass in selected areas to extend the golf course atmosphere.

Every Amenity

The home and its prime location are only the start of the paradise experience. Among the amenities of owning property in this private community are the facilities at the golf and beach club, which is reserved for the use of property owners and their guests. Elegant dining, relaxing in the world-class spa, or lounging on the white sand beaches in the front of the clubhouse are a few of the ways to indulge in the delights of club membership. For those looking for more excitement, the club’s concierge will arrange a guided outdoor experience—fishing, surfing or other sport. “Kua Bay Lodge is such a unique and special place,” Matt says. “The home is surrounded by an amazing natural beauty not found anywhere else on the planet.” The area’s moderate climate means outdoor living year-round. “Because of the seamless flow between interior and exterior spaces, the home becomes an extension of the island,” Matt says. “In a word, it’s just paradise.”