Nestled in the foothills above Kamuela, this home epitomizes modern country living in Hawai‘i, with spaces to unwind, entertain and gather with friends from afar, and just down the lane.
In Kamuela, nestled between trees on a knoll, in the open foothills above this charming Big Island town, sits a home that’s built on provenance, built for the future, and built, above all, for family and friends to gather at. Recently built for a family with long ties to the island and community, it serves as the newest spot to call home in Hawai‘i for Ron and Cindy McMackin and their five children. With other island homes to stop in at, one might wonder why here, and why go through the new-build process one more time, but those questions are easily answered once crossing the threshold of the home.
Looking up from the road, one’s gaze is first treated to the softness of nature. A bamboo hedge lines the drive with planar symmetry, the perfect counterpoint to a majestic magnolia that affords a degree of privacy from the road, and an element of surprise to those who visit. This home stands out by not sticking out, but as one quickly finds, everywhere one looks is another outstanding feature that adds to the perfectly cohesive nature of the home’s elements. After collaborating on their condo project at Park Lane in Honolulu, the homeowners once more teamed up with local award-winning luxury interior design firm Philpotts Interiors for what would come to be know as the Laelae Home, and its delightfully lilting name inspired the team to create their own “Double L” cattle branding iron, whose mark is seared inconspicuously into the wood furniture.
One’s first experience with the home might just skip the formal front entry, almost by design. Associate Senior Designer and project leader Avery Solmssen took the HILuxury team for a tour through the home as its finish- ing touches were being applied, and she highlighted a feature of the single storey bungalow’s design being its approachability and informality; one need not pause at the front door, as one suspects that despite an open door policy, arriving guests will most likely follow the sounds of merriment emanating from the lanai, and wander that way. In a slight departure from Philpotts Interiors’ trademark beach chic style, Solmssen mentions “this home is meant to put everyone at ease, and make people comfortable in all of the spaces” and one certainly gets that feeling right away.
Views are not in short supply, either; one can gaze across the languid valley to the south east, where Mauna Kea lies, or one can simply feast one’s eyes with the architectural details that abound within the home itself, or its two outbuildings. The main house was built on the actual foundation and exact footprint of an older home belonging to local artist Don Ho, and keeping that in place was important. The garage is original to the property, although its roof was raised slightly to accommodate today’s taller vehicles, with their racks of watercraft perched on top. Tucked just beyond is a third structure, known as the party barn, and central to the family’s intended use of this home as a gathering place for friends from far and near.
Entering the barn after traversing an intimate patio with its hefty slab of an outdoor table and stone and timber-grilling shed, one is struck by the integration of modern paniolo elements and classical Hawai‘i home touches, as only this design team could do. The barn’s modest size belies its ability to serve as a stand-alone entertainment location, should others wish to retreat for the night, or simply gather with a different generation. Amply stocked fridges and freezers preclude the need for runs to the main house’s kitchen and pantry, and comfortable seating surrounded by hardwoods of various varieties on every surface exude a comforting warmth that invites one to linger before retiring to one of the cozy bedrooms. One room is notable for making the most of its space by featuring double bunk beds built in; no doubt the kids will easily have friends of their own over soon, too.
Yet another tie to the local community is found in the various wood types used throughout the home. Much of it is reclaimed, storm-felled, and hand hewn by the artisans at Kamuela Hardwoods. Solmssen credits Alex Woodbury and Joshua Greenspan and their team’s dedication to the project with delivering much of the visual and tactile delights found in the home, with wood chosen for tone, color, grain or texture depending on use. Atop the fireplace, a rough-cut log serves as a mantle; nearby, cross-sectioned trunks that evaded being discarded reveal their heart-shaped voids, and become bespoke end tables, anchoring the soft leather couches in the living room, which is divided from the open kitchen by a solid wood dining table of aircraft carrier proportions.
Anyone visiting the Laelae Home will get the sense that it was built with a mission in mind, and it delivers. Beyond the specs and details, the home already exudes an inviting warmth that puts the owners, their children, and their friends at ease and in the easy living spirit of Kamuela, where the only rushing is done by the trade winds through the trees.