Back to the Future

When this couple found an aging mid-century modern house in Kahala, they didn’t tear it down—they lovingly updated it. Turns out the 1950s are looking better than ever.


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Photo by: Hal Lum

Architect Matthew Goyke of Green Sands Inc. says he jumped at the chance to renovate and update the house. “Those guys in the early ’50s were pretty exploratory, in terms of using what was available, reinterpreting the modern movements of the early 1900s with the new materials that were available,” he says.

In a sense, this remodel was a continuation of that spirit—the Jarvises tasked Goyke with maintaining the original feel of the place while incorporating materials more suited to the new millennium. “It was not hard at all to update this place,” Goyke says. “It’s a very modern-feeling home, thanks to the post-and-beam construction. The big design decision here was not to tear the house down. From that, everything else kind of flowed naturally.”

Architect Goyke plastered over the end wall in the living room, covering over the CMU blocks that had been there previously.

Photo by: Hal Lum



The living room in its original 1950s incarnation.

Photo: Courtesy of Frank Haines

The largest changes, in fact, were functional ones. The look of the 1950s may be timeless, but a lot of other things have changed since then.

In its original ’56 layout, for example, the kitchen had a relatively isolated, galley-style design, with adjacent living quarters for a live-in maid. Par for the course in a custom home half-a-century ago, maybe, but not as useful these days, when the kitchen has become the de-facto meeting place and control center of the home.

Goyke converted the kitchen into a more open, social configuration, expanding the pass-through that looks out onto the lanai, and arranging the room around a small kitchen island. Open and social requires more space, of course, which Goyke obtained by extending out the kitchen and laundry room (the once-maid’s quarters) by six feet—a total gain of 187 square feet.

In addition to opening up the kitchen area, Goyke streamlined the flow throughout the house by replacing conventional wooden interior doors with sliding aluminum ones. “There were a lot of swinging doors, and they were just kind of an obstruction,” he says. “We pocketed the doors away, or had them slide along the wall and become part of the aesthetic. Now there’s all sorts of layering if you look through from one area to the next.”

In some cases, maintaining Haines’ minimalist style in the redesign took a lot of extra work. Take the ceiling, for example—one of the home’s most prominent design features. Exposed rafters are contrasted by cedar sheathing that boasts a distinctive combed finish. When it came time to expand the kitchen, the Jarvises discovered that combed cedar—once so in vogue—was no longer available. Undeterred, they commissioned a tool that could carve the desired texture into new cedar sheathing.

The decision to stay with an exposed ceiling also required some clever engineering to make the home more livable in sunny Kahala. “It would have helped the overall environmental, thermal qualities of the house if we had insulated the ceiling,” says Goyke. “But we didn’t want to cover up these exposed beams, in fact we wanted to accentuate them.”


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