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First impressions

Home Building in Hawaii

NOTE: This is the second of a series of posts on designing and building a dream home.  We just happen to be doing it in paradise.   If you’re interested in home design, or just enjoy amazing home design pictures, follow us room by room in the Ahonui section of Aloha Dreams as we design and build our house.  The posts can be accessed in chronological order at the bottom of the page.

Slow Reveal for Maximum Impact

First impressions are so important.  When our guests have finally pulled up and “arrived” at our driveway, what do we want them to see?   We have a magnificent ocean view lot, and we could show it to them all at once, but don’t you think a little mystery would be nice?  Walt Disney and his Imagineers understood this design principle perfectly.  People enjoy ‘discovering’ things.  There is a special thrill associated with finding a new and unexpected place.  If the view is hidden and unfolds slowly, it adds to the sense of anticipation, arrival, and the final WOW when the view is exentually revealed.  So what design principles help us to do this?


  • Short sight lines and pathways leading around a corner to an unseen destination are a great way to accomplish this.   They beckon you to explore.  There’s an explicit promise that the new view will be just as good, if not better, than the current view.  This is where your guests form their first ‘first impression’
  • The topography of our lot, sloping off at about a 15 degree angle, helps us to reveal the view slowly.  But we need to hide it initially.
  • Perhaps the best way to initially hide the view would be with a wall and gate at the entrance to the driveway.  What do you think about a wider version this one?
Hawaii Dream Home Design

Just kidding. (But only barely.)  There is way too great a fire risk in the area with all the grasses.  However, something like this might be nice.

Hawaiian Home Building

I’m not a fan of the white metal, but I really like the center gold design.  It’s a stylized bromeliad (a species of tropical flowering plants), one of the most famous of which, is the pineapple.  Did you know the pineapple is a symbol of hospitality and welcome?

Christopher Columbus, was said to have discovered the pineapple in 1493 on his second trip to the Caribbean.  (Apparently he preferred it to cannibalism).  Columbus brought some of the plants back to Europe, where they became a symbol of great wealth.  European gardeners had a difficult time recreating the required conditions for the fruit to thrive until the mid 1600s.  (The Duchess of Cleveland finally managed it in her hot house in 1642).  Soon the very fashionable pineapple became the gift of choice from royalty to their honored and distinguished guests.


By the late 1600s and early 1700 the Colonial pineapple trade solidified the pineapple’s place as a status symbol.  Because the sea trip from the Caribbean to the colonies was hot and humid, much of the fruit rotted en route.  This made the fragile pineapples expensive and rare.  Colonial hostesses scrambled to acquire the scarce supply of fruit for their tables, and the trend grew.

Welcome Guests!

According to legend, New England sea captains returning from the Caribbean with their cargo of fruits, spices and rum would spear a pineapple on a fence post outside their home letting friends know of their safe return.  The pineapple was an invitation to visit, hear his tales, and share his bounty.  Over the years area innkeepers added the pineapple to their signs and furniture as a sign of welcome.

Eventually any guest invited to a party where a pineapple was on display, knew that no expense was spared in guaranteeing his enjoyment.

Yeah, we definitely gotta have a pineapple.

Maybe we can also incorporate something with a little more tropical drama?  This is lovely.  I really like the plumeria tree to the right. And those pots are fantastic.  We could widen it to accommodate a car.

Hawaii Home Design

The lava rock walls would give the pig fence something nice to terminate into.  PIG FENCE????  Yes, pig fence.  There are numerous wild pigs roaming the Big Island.  Without a pig fence, these guys (and their whole extended piggy family) would likely become our new best buddies.

Hawaiian Home Building

So we’ll need a lava rock wall, something like this, at the entrance.  Isn’t this beautiful work?

Hawaiian Home Building

Once you clear the gate, you’ll see this.  Was it worth the wait?

Hawaii Home Design

Own the View

As you continue down the driveway and begin turning to the west, this will be the view.  It’s the view you can see currently from the cul de sac without the wall.   It’s a 3 acre, pie shaped lot, widening towards the ocean.  It slopes off to a gully at the base.  This is incredibly important because it provides us with an un-obstructable view.  If you’re buying a lot like this with a view like this, it’s key that you ‘own’ the view.

Building a Home in Hawaii

See all those small green trees in the background?  They’re kaiwe (pron. key-AH-vey).  They are a species of Mesquite and, as such, are great for barbeque fires.  They were introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in 1828 by Father Alexis Bachelot, the leader of the first catholic mission to the islands.  He planted a kaiwe tree on the grounds of the Catholic Mission in Honolulu.  Within 12 years the progeny of that initial tree became the principal shade trees of Honolulu.  They soon spread to the neighboring islands, including the Big Island.  We will be removing all but the large one in the foreground to clean up the view plain.  (I’m sure I’ll find something to do with the wood…)

This is the view you’ll see as you continue down the driveway.

Home Building in Hawaii

We’ll want to start introducing some tropical impact at this point.  How about something like this?  I really like those mass agave plantings at the bottom right.

Building a house in Hawaii

Due to the slope of the lot, the house will be situatated to the left and ‘below’ the driveway kind of like this.

Building a house in Hawaii

The driveway will end in a turn around circle or pad like this.  I really like that plumeria tree to the left of the garage.

Hawaii Home Building

Due to the orientation of the house on the lot, the end of the driveway will form this kind of angle relative to the garage.  There will be terraces along the south side of the driveway, similar to this.

Hawaii House Construction

Exterior Color Scheme

The exterior colors of our home need to be very warm and inviting.  I’m thinking a golden cream color stucco for the walls that almost glows when it’s lit, and rich orange/brown mahogany for the trim.  Kind of like this.  Check out those wall sconces too!

Hawaii Home Construction

I definitely think we need some of those large outdoor copper Hawaiian wall sconces, don’t you?  How about these?

Hawaiian Wall Sconce

House Design Software

I’m designing Hale Ahonui using Google SketchUp.  It’s pretty amazing.  If you have any interest in drawing, you really should check it out.  I use the Pro version, and will be showing you some great interior views of my design with several of its features, but the basic version is very flexible on its own.  So here’s what I’m planning for the front of our house.  What do you think?


Hawaii Home Design

I hope you’ll join me again next month as we design a fabulous entry way for our Dream Home in Paradise.  Meanwhile…

Share the Dream on Pinterest

Hawaii Home Design

Want More Home Design?

Kohala Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii

Hale Ahonui is on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. Here the sleepy towns and countryside of the real Hawaii remain unchanged. Nestled between the wind swept terrain of Kohala Mountain to the east, and the beautiful Pacific Ocean on the west, Kohala Ranch rests on the grassy meadows in between.


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