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63 Ways to Improve Your Island Home

Whether you’ve got a three-bedroom kama‘āina gem or a compact condo in town, your Island home could always look a little nicer. Fortunately, we’ve got tips for you that fit any budget.


Remodeling your home can be a big undertaking. Sometimes it’s necessary—your aging house is falling apart, your parents are moving in—and other times you just want, well, an upgrade. There are a whole bunch of uniquely local problems to solve and options to consider. Where to start? What can you afford? What can you do on your own, and when do you need to hire someone? What about design inspo? Don’t worry—we got you.


Elevate Your Space opener

Interior designer Jamie Smith Jackson of Jamie Jackson Design recently updated the overall look of this welcoming Kāhala family home, which she also designed eight years ago. See the before shot below!
Photo: Olivier Koning


Here’s what Jackson and her team did that you can too:

  1. Display local art (this piece by Peter Shepard Cole). 

  2. Bring the outside in with green plants. 

  3. Sliding doors make indoor/outdoor living easy. 

  4. Landscaping provides privacy and shade. 

  5. Reupholster your sofa for a new look. 

  6. Unique furniture and a custom rug make a big impact.



Elevate Your Space opener before

Photo: Courtesy of Jamie Jackson Design



Need home supplies but strapped for cash? Check out the Honolulu Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, a donation center selling gently used appliances, furniture and construction materials including flooring, lighting and electrical. It’s got a massive warehouse tucked away on Austin Lane in Kalihi and, best of all, ReStore sales go to benefit the building of new affordable homes for deserving Honolulu communities. Honolulu Habitat ReStore, 922 Austin Lane, C-1, 380-8617, honoluluhabitat.org/about-restore.


One of the biggest things running up your electric bill in your home is the water heater. “Instead of always keeping a giant tank full of hot water and paying to heat it up all the time, you can have a very small, on-demand water heater,” says interior designer Jamie Jackson. For a family of four, installing a solar water heater can save as much as 40 percent on electric bills—that’s around $600 a year.


Construction and demolition debris often end up in landfills, but nonprofit Re-use Hawai‘i can salvage up to 80 percent of a structure to recycle or resell. Customers benefit by getting great, affordable prices on everything from lumber to sinks, light fixtures and tiles. Inventory is constantly changing, too. 200 Keawe St., 537-2228.


Hawai‘i Problems

Maintaining a home in Hawai‘i has specific challenges, mainly because of salty air and year-round sun. If you want to build a deck, especially one of natural wood, make sure it’s covered, to prevent it from getting too hot or fading. Use outdoor paints that reflect heat (Tex-Cote CoolWall paints come in many colors, not just white!), which can save on cooling costs. Any metal, including door hinges, window hardware and nails, should be stainless steel to prevent rust, especially if you live near the beach. 


See what else you can do to elevate your space at the links below.


Worth It

Room to Grow

Space Savings

Worth It

Room to Grow

Space Savings

Hire Smarter

Hire a Pro vs DIY

Isle Inspo

Hire Smarter

Hire a Pro vs. D.I.Y.

Isle Inspo






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Honolulu Magazine September 2020
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