Going With The Flow

Poised on the Kona coast of the big island, a family getaway designed by Nicole Hollis embraces sublime ocean views and rugged landscape

Above image: Designer Nicole Hollis

By Lydia Lee

On Hawaii, coastal lava fields are a potent reminder of the geological forces that brought the island into existence. In this dramatic setting, Greg Warner of Walker Warner Architects and Nicole Hollis of interior design studio NICOLEHOLLIS, together with their combined teams, created a refined and welcoming environment inspired by the striking contrast between the crisp, precise horizon and the rugged terrain. “As much as the ocean deserves attention, we wanted to create a home that captures the natural beauty of the island itself,” says Warner, who grew up in nearby Waimea and is also collaborating with Hollis on the revival of the beloved Kona Village Resort.

The 9,000-square-foot retreat, designed for a Bay Area family and their guests, consists of a four-bedroom residence and a guesthouse. When the team toured the three-acre site, located on a lava field overlooking Kua Bay, it had already been partially excavated, exposing craggy layers of rock. To reduce the visual impact of the house and create more privacy from the neighbors, Warner sunk the guesthouse and garage so they would disappear into the landscape. The two guest suites look onto their own private geological wonderland—­a lava-rock grotto­.

Above image: Immersive views of sea and sky as seen from the main pavilion. The sitting area features Vladimir Kagan Barrel chairs and a Christian Astuguevielle Afritamu coffee table through Kneedler Fauchère. Dining chairs are Arctique by Christian Liaigre through De Sousa Hughes. Photo by Douglas Friedman.

The guest room view onto the sculptural lava-rock grotto. Custom bed by NICOLEHOLLIS, wall hanging by Lauren Williams, and Bazane stools by Christian Liaigre through De Sousa Hughes. The guest bath carries through the natural stone colorways. Photos by Douglas Friedman.

The main residence is an L-shaped building: The children’s bedrooms are arrayed along one bar, and the gathering spaces and primary bedroom extend along the other. The great room is a pavilion that opens up on both sides via glass sliding doors that pocket into the walls. “When the family is in residence, they leave the space open like this all the time,” notes Hollis.

The pool area features chairs and poufs by Paolo Lenti. Photo by Douglas Friedman.

The airy main room was carefully devised as an extension of the surrounding landscape. Alaskan yellow cedar lines the ceiling and eaves, reflecting the arid environment on this side of the island, while the exterior is clad in horizontal bands of basalt to echo the layered lava bed. The pavilion steps up six feet, so the view is unimpeded by deck furniture. The realization of this nearly four-year project was a milestone for the architects. “There’s so much rigor in the alignment of the joints and the details,” says Warner.

To avoid competing with the scenery, Hollis chose furnishings made of natural materials in a neutral palette. “The interiors are a very subtle backdrop to the view, letting the ocean be the ocean,” she says. “It’s more about texture and materiality than pattern.” In the pavilion, Vladimir Kagan Barrel chairs upholstered in outdoor terrycloth (everything had to be compatible with wet bathing suits, Hollis explains) gather around a jute-wrapped Christian Astuguevieille coffee table beneath a custom Lindsay Adelman Cherry Bomb chandelier.

New York artist Michele Oka Doner created the home’s bronze door handles by casting tree branches; Oka Doner also designed a dramatic cast-bronze screen which adorns the main powder room. “We kept it simple and comfortable,” says Hollis. “The clients wanted a contemporary space, but also to feel like they were in Hawaii.”

Landscape design is by esteemed San Francisco firm Lutsko Associates; principal Ron Lutsko also designed the fire feature, which is tiled in rough basalt. Photo by Douglas Friedman.

Two Henry Adams Street, Suite 2M-33
San Francisco, CA 94103