Points of View
This Lanikai home t akes advantage of the jaw- dropping vist as that surrounds it.
WHEN INTERIOR DESIGNER JENN JOHNSON STARTS A PROJECT, SHE ASKS HER CLIENTS WHAT they want their house to feel like. With the owners of this Lanikai ridge home, she received a wonderfully strong list of wishes and guidelines, “and that's what makes a custom home custom, just for them,” notes Johnson, whose company, Indigo Republic, is based in Kailua.
First request, “NO white,” exclaims Johnson, “which if you know me, was really difficult. Next request, no fake materials. This made me really love these homeowners even more.”
The owners, who were raised in Kailua, also wanted to make the home a space to host lots of family and friends, including an entire level designed just for guests. “My favorite part is the pool guest room,” says Johnson. “You can seriously dive right in from your bed.” “I think you should have fun with the living experience of a home,” says Karl Mench, owner and founder of design/build firm Concept 2 Completion. “And what could be better than sliding out the bedroom window into a pool?”
As a carpenter, architect, and general contractor, Mench took on the project once the owners had a set of plans they'd worked on, adjusted the plans, and then carried the project all the way through the finished product.
“They had a fairly developed design concept,” explains Mench. “After some back and forth we restarted and took ideas that worked best with the site and expanded on them.”
Because of the site's spectacular ocean views, Mench orientated as many spaces as possible towards the view of the Mokulua islands and the Windward coast. “We were able to give every space a view of the ocean.”
After what Mench describes as the always-difficult permit process, his team moved the project into construction. The most challenging site condition was the steepness of the lot, which was solved by cutting into the hillside and building a large retaining wall to create a flat building site.
“The flat lot was needed in order to provide the exterior living spaces desired by the client,” notes Mench, describing the site itself as the biggest challenge during the three-year build including the site work.
“We had a spot where the neighbors' driveway and house allowed us an access of only 10 feet by 10 feet. All materials, including 40-foot steel I-beams, had to come up on the back of a pick up truck.
We also have a very tight space on the site where we could lift large structural pieces. We had to back way out at every stage and not paint ourselves into a corner.”
“Karl Mench took a property that was extremely difficult to build on and made it happen,” says the owner. “He took our ideas and melded them with his own and designed a home with flow and an understated elegance that we love.”
Johnson feels the end-result pushes the design envelope.
“I was so impressed with how both the homeowners and architect really pushed the tropical modern design far beyond my expectations. I was honored to work with such an amazing team of craftsmen, builders, designers and clients. We definitely had the “A” team, and you can see that in the final product.”
The house proved it had the capacity to entertain on a major scale when it was broken in with a birthday bash for more than 100 people, a party which became one of the team's deadlines. “I really got to see what the owners meant by "entertaining,'” exclaims Johnson. “It was so amazing to watch the house easily accommodate such a large group of friends and family.”
The flow between the exterior and interior spaces allowed the group to move easily in the space, which maximizes the full potential of every inch of the hillside lot.
“When the large sliding doors are opened, you have a beautiful indoor/ outdoor living experience,” says Mench.
“My favorite space is the kitchen and living room areas.”
Johnson agrees. “I could literally sit in the living room for days watching the ocean channel. It's one of the most breathtaking views I 've seen in Lanikai. Besides sitting on your own linen sectional with a silk rug under your feet, you can watch the entire stretch of Lanikai Beach from the privacy of your home. All the walls are glass and pocket back, so you can really control the airflow.”
“The views from the master bedroom are also very special,” adds Mench. “Whenever you can see the ocean and Mokuluas from your bed you've done something right.”
“Ever ything is centered around t hose beautiful ocean views,” says architect and contract or Karl Mench. “The biggest requirement was t o give each room an ocean view.” In t he master bedroom, both an ocean and Lanikai r idge view greet t he owners ever y morning.