Peel Back Your Stress at Temple-Inspired Laie, Hawaii Retreat

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Coastline and mountain views from the pool

On a drive up to Turtle Bay for a disappointing lunch at Roy’s Beach Shack, I drove right past 55-249A Kamehameha Highway in Laie on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.  I drove past, because from the road, the home is nearly invisible, tucked into its own oceanfront pocket tropical forest on about two-thirds of an acre.

The home just popped on the market with Erik Hinshaw of Hawai’i Life Real Estate. Readers will recall it was Hinshaw who showed me around the $71 million in penthouse “porn” you read about earlier in January.  During that visit we got to talking about this property.  But enough dish, here are the specs: it’s a 2004-built home with three bedrooms and three bathrooms totaling 2,464 square feet of living space and is being offered for $2.4 million.

There is a lot of privacy that comes with this home. From its hidden nature to the separate bedroom wings to the outbuilding containing an office/study or workshop. You’re away from it all.

You enter this private world after parking your car and making your way up a path and around the dense foliage to an unassuming gate. It’s simple and ordered design is definitely Japanese-feeling. But remember, a gate is the beginning …

Passing the gate you find yourself on the path to the main house.  This in-between space is where concerns begin to melt. Japanese aesthetic often marries the manmade with nature.  It also simplifies structure. The home appears to be a temple of sorts, built with more modern concrete block, but retaining the simplicity of pattern and design of the original.

Entering the home, structure melts away into generous living and entertaining areas. Nature and structure come together again with a wood ceiling and full wall of windows to capture the tropical and ocean views.  The floor is stained concrete that is cool in tropical climates.  Behind the white wall is the kitchen that opens completely to the dining area visible in the distance.

This picture along the dining area gives the complete feeling of openness provided by the windows. Eagle-eyes will see the matching full-length pool with the mountains and ocean in the distance.

Behind the dining room is an open box of a kitchen … almost a room within a room.  The generous proportions are ideal for hosting large gatherings as well as tandem cooking with little ones dashing about.

Before heading to the bedrooms, the pool calls.  I like the lushness of the views and the continued blending of structure with nature.  Anyone with the money can have an oceanfront home.  Being able to combine the ocean and mountain views with the canopy of vegetation seen here is harder to find.  At once you’re open to the ocean with the privacy for a racy skinny dip.

The simplicity of Japanese design ideals continues in the master bedroom.  But this is no spare monk’s cell. The gold leaf ceiling gives away its quiet luxury. Of course, the bed faces the windows and out towards nature.

I really enjoy this bathroom.  It’s very large for today’s spa experience, but also simple and extremely well-lit with the border of transom windows filling with light while guaranteeing privacy. Through the doorway is a wet room …

The use of smooth stone interspersed with rough, dimensional stone is pleasing in a way all rough or all smooth wouldn’t accomplish.  The bathtub is a traditional Japanese soaking tub but enlarged for pool-like baths for one or two … or… ?  The other bathrooms are equally well thought out and inviting, each with a different experience, one with a steam shower and the other with a whirlpool bathtub.  As homeowners, you can bathe where the mood strikes.

Returning to the pool, the rear of the house transports you back to that temple feel from the front garden.  The roofline is certainly evocative as is the tidiness of the structural lines.

The other end of the pool allows the prow-like views of the ocean and mountains to take over.  It’s the landscape of the islands that calm me.  Seeing tall mountains butt up to the endless ocean is somehow proof of my isolation from the hustle and bustle of the rest of my life.


Remember: When I’m not stirring up trouble in Dallas, Texas or Honolulu, Hawaii for and, I’m off scouting interesting locations for a second home.  In 2016 and 2017, the National Association of Real Estate Editors has recognized my writing with two Bronze (2016, 2017) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards. If you’re a Realtor with second home clients who’d like me to feature their journey, shoot me an email