At Modern Luxury, connection and community define who we are. We use cookies to improve the Modern Luxury experience - to personalize content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyze our traffic. We also may share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. We take your privacy seriously and want you to be aware that we have recently made changes to our Privacy Policy, which can be found here.


Nature Takes Center Stage at This Kohala Coast Residence

BY Chandler Presson | July 15, 2020 | Feature Home & Real Estate

A location like no other calls for a home design that pays homage to its natural surroundings. This vacation residence, sitting alongside an 1801 lava flow on just over an acre on the South Kohala coast, is just that. Architect Mark de Reus’ ( details perfectly meld with the natural setting of the home, drawing attention to the drama of ocean swells crashing along the rugged coastline. “The home is organized as a series of interlocking, separate, hipped roof pavilions,” says de Reus. These pavilions, known as hale, are tied together by basalt walkways and artful landscaping by David Tamura. Given the home’s incredible setting, designers Marion Philpotts-Miller and Anne Tanaka ( kept the interiors ultrasimple yet striking. The duo drew inspiration from Japan, Bali and Hawai‘i, but steered clear of limiting themselves and the space. “Themes were avoided because of their temporal nature.” Instead, the home was designed with two guiding principles: deference to nature and livability.


The outdoor pavilion features custom basalt tables, Tempest in Rattan chair accent pillows from Jim Thompson Fabrics and grass cloth in flannel sofa accent pillows from Perennials Fabrics.

Creating an architecturally “quiet” space required great restraint in the design; however, the result is flawless integration of nature with the home. Several of the main gathering spaces are outdoor pavilions capitalizing on views, gardens and tropical breezes. These spaces drew inspiration from Japanese aesthetics—restraint, spatial arrangement, craftsmanship and art. Philpotts-Miller, Tanaka and de Reus selected the materials and color palette used throughout the entire home to complement the architectural concept. Examples include the striated basalt stone flooring, clear vertical grain white oak ceilings and cabinetry, sustainable teak architectural floors, black anodized aluminum doors and coral stone walls. The designers took color cues from the ocean and lava, mingling them with neutrals to create a soft, easy ambiance. Nature is not only allowed into the home, it is celebrated.

Philpotts-Miller and Tanaka attended to detail in every nook and cranny of this residence. Custom finishes, furnishings, art and lighting fill the space while retaining a clean finish. Bespoke rugs are paired with custom-fabricated decorative pillows in the master suite and living room. The master bath is shielded by a large custom shower wall of Calacatta marble that was carved in Italy. An antique yet graphically modern-looking Taishō-period kimono dons the foyer wall, and in the nearby powder room, the custom Japanese, tansu-inspired vanity’s colored drawers coordinate with the kimono. From teak headboards handcarved in Bali with Polynesian kapa patterns to subtly integrated lighting and electrical outlets, no feature was accidental.


Beautiful accents include Danish cord swivel counter stools by McGuire in the kitchen

Given the level of detail achieved by Philpotts-Miller and Tanaka, some challenges were inevitable. “Flexibility of by-day and by-night spaces was an interior challenge,” says the duo. The goal was a space that could transition from daylight activities to intimate gatherings after sundown. Philpotts-Miller and Tanaka accomplished this dynamic space by integrating electrical outlets into coconut trees for mood lighting and incorporating a teak alfresco table that can easily entertain large groups, or be broken down and stored away. Another design challenge was installing a television in a living room with no walls. Cleverly, a custom-designed carved cabinet was placed to conceal the motorized television inside a floor cavity. When not in use, the television is stored away, allowing for an unobstructed view of the ocean.


Holly Hunt Peso Table makes a statement

The home’s interiors transition to the surrounding landscape via the swimming pool, designed with a Japanese “flying geese” arrangement, connecting the outdoor pavilion to the main gathering spaces. Tamura’s landscaping design seamlessly integrates the pool and surrounding area with the natural landscape through his concept of the garden as a kīpuka: an island of land that a lava flow left alone. Between de Reus, Tamura, Philpotts-Miller and Tanaka, this home exemplifies architecture, landscape artistry and interior design harmonizing with all that nature has to offer.


Custom headboard, bed and nightstands by Maui Custom Woodworks and bed pillow fabrics by Kelly Wearstler for Lee Jofa in the master bedroom

Photography Courtesy Of: Photos by Matthew Millman