Robin Ferrier – Art Quilts »

Masthead header

First, I want to share with you something somewhat amazing. It’s notable that this is the only enclosed wall in the entire house.  Yup!  In the bathroom, the wall where the shower fixture is going is an enclosed wall and therefore the only wall the plumbing inspector needed to see before he signed off on the house!  When, I ask you, does it ever happen that the plumbing inspector completes his job at a site before the electrical inspector? Never!  To me, this means less opportunity for hidden leaks and less materials used in building.  Oh how  I love single wall construction!My drive to Hana this week was to deliver supplies.  Amongst other things, I delivered a board of Ipe which is a hardwood from Brazil.  Because it matches the density and color of the coconut wood, which is what the house is made of, we’ve been using it for small projects which come up here and there.  For instance, in the bathrooms, because of the slope of the roof, there is a triangular space above the wall that is essentially open to the outside.  Given that this house is in a jungle, we are wanting to keep the mosquitos out,  so our guy built a screen to fit perfectly in that space! It’s tedious work tending to every nook and cranny.  Words cannot express how thankful I am to have someone on the site who has an eye for detail and appreciates fine craftsmanship (like me). 

Outside the work to skirt the entire base of the house is ongoing.  This wood has been painted black to make it less noticeable later.  We’ve decided to wrap the entire house with skirting and create cubbies for storage.  The next time I show you photos of the house it should look worlds different from the curb!

Inside, decisions are being made about fixtures.  It’s really difficult to tell exactly how much lighting we will need.  Install too few fixtures and you are forced to use standing and table lamps to provide adequate lighting in the evenings.  Install too many and you’ve cluttered up the place with hanging lamps and sconces.  In the end, our plan is to err on the side of too many because of our desire to keep the furnishings spare.  With the promise of dimmers in mind, I’m feeling pretty good about what we’ve chosen.  In this room we will have three large (30″) hanging pendants, three smaller pendants over the kitchen and two 60″ fans with warm dimming LED lights.

Looking at the above picture, imagine two fans hanging from those square junction caps in the middle.  I’m downright giddy about these fans!  We picked the Haiku fan from Big Ass Fans which you can read more about here.  Not only are they energy efficient and award winning, they are oh so beautiful and QUIET!  I originally was against purchasing the light module with the fan but after seeing how soft and warm the light was I was convinced.  It will compliment the pendants perfectly. 

Finally, here is a preview of the type of lighting we are wanting to install in the house.  This style of light is from Morocco and when lit the shadows cast on the walls and surrounding areas are stunning.  Of course my quilter friends can appreciate the pattern and repetitive motif!  It’s our desire to create a house of beauty here in Hana and if we pull it off the lighting will be a big part of it!  This week I’m off to this store to make it happen! Wish me luck!

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

  • robinFebruary 19, 2018 - 9:18 pm

    By the time we finish the project you may not be the only one needing it!

  • Carole ZoomFebruary 19, 2018 - 7:28 pm

    What a lovely and inspiring project. Too soon to request a ramp?
    😂 z

I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately; perhaps because it’s nearing Valentine’s day, perhaps because things for me seem to be going smoothly.  Now that the holidays have passed, we’ve slipped into that hazy routine of work, school and life at home.  I’ve been devoting more of myself to that sweet house in Hana partly because I can and partly because I really need to.  We are at a stage now where we need to throw energy into various facets at once, so that it can all come together as a whole. Last week the shower was plumbed, just in time for the inspector’s visit yesterday.  Now with that complete, the rest of the shower can go in… then the flooring… toilet and vanity (which I have yet to choose… ahem).

The electrician stopped by and together we mapped out the location of every outlet, light switch, fixture, appliance and fan.  Poor guy, I kept on begging him to please, please just wire it as he sees fit!  He was very patient with me; explaining “no can do” despite my sweetest pleas.  I find it overwhelming at times the amount of decisions I have to make.   Now that the wiring has been decided, I need to find lighting, fans and appliances to put on the ends of those wires.  My work here seems endless.

We had an incident last month where our kayak was removed from under the house.  A little word out on the “coconut wireless” had our kayak safely returned to us however it got us to thinking more about security here.  In the two plus years that we’ve been here this is the first time we’ve had issues with theft… or “borrowing” as it turned out to be.  Hana is still a very safe place to be compared to other beach communities I’m familiar with, but still, there is no excuse for complacency.  The doors in the house have been worked on so now they all lock securely and even though it will be a big job work has begun on installing skirting on the entire house. As with anything out here, it all starts with pretreating the wood. 

Perhaps the loveliest thing I saw on our visit this week was the newly planted variegated ti hedge.  It may not look like much now but someday it will be this tall thick hedge which will provide us with much needed privacy and shelter from salty wind.  I’m in love with how it contrasts with those fat-leafed taro plants and think someday the two will contrast nicely.  

I have only this man to thank for all his hard work and “aloha”  put into this property.  Chester is a treasure out here and we’re lucky to have him.  I remember a few years ago I would see him drive around with his yard tools in the back of his truck and I would flag him down, begging him to come work for us.  He resisted as long as he could but in the end I think I wore him down!  These days he tells me he cares for this place as if it were his own which makes me so happy! He shares my vision of planting plants appropriate for this peaceful retreat. I have come to know him not just as a landscaper; I have come to consider him someone I depend on and care deeply about.  He’s daring enough to tell me he can make anything grow and I’m foolish enough to believe him.Out here in this peaceful place, my mind is starting to slow.  I look around bathed in warm sunlight and I begin to feel an appreciation for the beauty that surrounds me.  There’s something about this place that is pure magic; one simply cannot hang on to those things that are bothersome.  When the complexities of constructing a house in Hana and all that entails start to get me down I’m thankful to have this place to snap me out of it. I cannot help but consider things a little differently. 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Last time I updated this blog I talked about the tile.  We ordered this beautiful honed glass tile for the kitchen and so far so good! The cabinets will be dropped a few inches because they simply are too high to make use of.  I’m liking how this tile looks.  Its clean and understated.  It reminds me of beach glass sanded smooth by waves and sand.   I have in mind to replace those knobs with gold ones to match the faucet which is a lovely champagne bronze.  Having the light gold knobs and that rich reddish wood will really make this place look warm and inviting. 

Meanwhile, in the bathrooms, work is being done on the flooring.  One of the bathrooms will have a shower and the other a tub. Working with a single-walled house built of coconut wood is sometimes tricky.  That floor pan for the shower doesn’t sit entirely against the wall.  In the corner is a rounded post which is essential for that part of the house.  Work will be done to build up one wall so that a perfect corner can be created for the shower to sit in.  It’s a little complicated but this is really a good thing.  Because the kitchen is on the other side of that wall, we could use some of that space to make it so the oven fits in it’s space.  We’re talking inches but it really does make a difference.

I feel like I couldn’t be more blessed to have people available who are strong and like a good challenge.  This tub was not easy to move into this bathroom!  For a long time I wondered weather or not it would even fit through the doorway.  Thankfully it did and with some creative thinking, much like the Egyptians did when building the pyramids, my peeps were able to shift this heavy piece carefully into this space.  The tile for the bathrooms is a greenish river-rock mosaic, which again, speaks to the blues and greens found by the shore.  I’m loving how this is turning out and with the gold fixtures this room will be luxurous!  Taking a warm tub bath in this room will someday be a treat after a long day of play in the sun!

Finally, I hear through the grapevine that our landscaper wants to replace the taro hedge in the front with variegated ti.  I’m so-so about the change as I’ve grown partial to the taro.  I can see why he is going in this direction; the hedge will provide a more solid wall of protection for privacy and the ti plant grows to a nice 4-5′ in height.  I’ll have to talk with him about moving the taro to another part of the property where it will continue to remind me of the beauty of Hawaii and it’s people.

The rainy season has set in here on Maui and we are in long-sleeved shirts and socks these days.  On clear days like this one, you can still warm up in that hot Hawaiian sun, but that wind will remind you we are in winter mode here. Already our house has been subject to high winds that rattle the beams and make our house shudder.  Those gusts make me uncomfortable at times, so I stay put inside planning my holiday and with the dogs for company. Lately construction on the Hana house has been all about the tile.   It’s taken many hours, and several trips back and forth to Hana but we’ve finally decided on these for the kitchen; a sanded grey/green glass tile called “loft” for the walls and a brushed charcoal limestone for the floors.  It may not seem like much or even that complicated, but to me it was.  In the world of tile these days there are endless colors, surfaces, materials and motifs one can choose from.  In the end, I chose natural stone and sanded glass.  I just love how the cool the black stone feels and how it’s gentle irregular surface has the right balance of smoothness and organic irregularity. My inspiration is the shore where its not uncommon to find tumbled glass and smooth lava rock.The walls of the bathrooms are a different story. This tile is a printed ceramic tile that has the surface look and texture of grasscloth.  I like the feel of it and how it almost looks like fabric.  Because this is a larger area and because we have two bathrooms, price is also a serious consideration. Ceramic tile is good that way.  This photo was taken before the grout was filled in.  I have our guy in Hana, Nathan, to thank for the layout.  Trying to fit those tiles in between the beams was not easy.  He came up with this “H” motif which I think looks visually interesting and doesn’t allow those wood slats to interfere with the spacing of the tile.  It’s a little difficult to explain, just know I’m happy with what we decided. The end result is stunning! Now the room feels solid, waterproof and perfectly ready for a nice long tub bath!Meanwhile on the outside of the house, work is being done on those front stairs.  For this we chose Ipe, which is similar in density to the coconut wood of the house but has a more homogeneous grain.  The wood has to be treated with an oil which gives it that deep reddish color and protects it from the elements.  Looking at it now one might not appreciate just how much work has been put into this but I can tell.  For one thing, Ipe is hard! Those pieces are cut to precision and sanded to look smooth and inviting.  Walking on these steps feels solid underfoot and oh so much better than climbing ladders and planks like we used to.  As with anything, here in Hana, progress is slow and these stairs are no exception.  To that I would say, I wouldn’t have it any other way. After all this is Hana.

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

It’s been said that it takes a storm to make a rainbow and that analogy couldn’t have been more true for life as I know it lately.  Thank you dear readers for your concern; I don’t plan on being away for so long again!

To put it simply, we moved.  As with any real estate transaction here on Maui, you never know when it will happen so pretty much for the past year, maybe longer, we’ve been hopeful that not only we could sell the big house but also buy a smaller house more suited to our needs and closer to work.  It all came together this summer and thankfully we are happy as can be in our new home!The house is the perfect blend of unassuming simplicity and quality attention to detail.  We were fortunate enough to get this restored (and improved) white house with a wrap around deck and tall ceilings.  The house sits on a half-acre parcel and is surrounded by rich vegetation and a grove of avocado trees. At night, when the noise dies down, we are lulled to sleep by the sound of water moving down the river. Downsizing was not easy, it never is, but the reality of becoming empty-nesters is approaching and our lives sorely needed to hit the “reset” button.  All this is to say I’ve not been making quilts, I’ve not had time or space to create and I am woefully behind on all those yummy quilts I’m itching to gift-away!  We have plans to build a proper studio but I’m guessing we are six months away from that reality.  Not to worry; I’ve got plenty to keep my busy until then.Work on the Hana house took a break while we were in the throws of moving and now we are back at it!
The kitchen has been installed however these cabinets are way too tall.  The Balinese people are not known for their height so were all puzzled when they got hung.  We are considering tiling the walls which would make sense in the kitchen.  At that time I guess we will make a decision about lowering the cabinets.  I have yet to pick out tile for the floor, but the subfloor has been installed and it feels solid!
Meanwhile, our beloved beautiful bathtub sits on the screened lanai waiting to be installed.  It’s all about sequence with this project.  First we need to tile the bathroom then we can set it in place.  What needs to be done after that is plumbing and electricity… easy peasy… ahem.  With all the issues with building a home, raising teens, moving to a new house and our usual day-to-day madness, it’s easy to get caught up in the turmoil.  I’m reminded tho almost on a daily basis that I am surrounded by beauty and love. As we were leaving our Hana home we stopped by Koki beach, where the island ‘Alau is visible along with hundreds of swarming seabirds called ‘iwa. The sight is always captivating and we bounced in the waves like kids.  Out here it doesn’t matter that our last child will be leaving us soon, that we’ve been working on our Hana home for years now with no end in sight, that I haven’t picked up a rotary cutter in ages or that I don’t look as good in this swimsuit as I used to… certainly my DH doesn’t mind.  What matters is that life goes on.  I plan to attend a Halloween party tonight in a last-minute costume that has yet to be determined, after that I’ll get to that tile, shower, garage… care packages for the boys… so much to tend to.  I am looking forward to decorating for the holidays! What are you looking forward to these days?

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

  • Izzie elliottNovember 25, 2017 - 10:50 am

    Aloha e Robin,
    Yeah! A new house….looks like Iao Valley?

    If you or anyone you,know wants to join me in Sisters, Oregon this summer….I’m renting a 3 bedroom condo nearby. Time to feel the local vibe.
    Come and join me.

    Relax blessing in your new home,
    Elizabeth Elliott
    Or Izzie…my Oregon name

  • robinOctober 31, 2017 - 7:59 pm

    I agree Diane! This phase of life is so exciting! I know exactly what you mean by getting your house in order! Cheers!

  • DianeOctober 31, 2017 - 4:24 pm

    You new house looks great! We moved this summer as welll. I am just now starting to quilt again after five months off. It feels great to be in my new studio! This is mixed with getting our living space in order. I’m looking forward to all three of my sons coming home for Christmas with girlfriends. Much to do before then, but I can hardly wait. Such a treat to have everyone together.
    Diane in Madison

Hana is a place where time seems to move slowly.  That’s one of the things I love about it; it’s like stepping back to another time.  Sometimes things do change quickly tho.  Imagine our surprise when what was once this:

…turned into this:

The neighbor is preparing his property to sell so he cut down a few trees.  Well, more than a few trees if I’m honest.  It takes some getting used to and we are adjusting to the sudden loss in privacy.  The man who helps us with our landscaping has already made a special trip to the nursery on our behalf.  He plans on planting native shrubs and a two Ohia trees, one red and one yellow, to help us with the view.  The good news is I had a nice talk with the neighbor who did this and he plans of clearing those fallen trees.  I understand why he did it and know just like he does that it’s a tiresome job keeping the jungle in check.  It’s going to be a long process because like us, he doesn’t live in Hana.  Like I said earlier, time moves slowly here.

Back at our house, Jamey and I have been working on the screened lanai.  We started by inserting the screens into the upper portions of the walls.  These “balinese” screens don’t just pop in like western screens do.  They are framed in wood.  Wood swells.  We discovered with some of them it took a bit of pounding and sanding to make them fit.  Once we inserted one screen, we found it sometimes affected how it’s neighbor fit, and so forth.  I have a whole new appreciation for our builders and can only imagine how much pounding and tweaking it took to get this wooden house together!  If you look closely, you can see they didn’t use a staple gun to attach the screen to the frame; instead each side has screws set 2″ apart holding the screen tight and even.  There is a level of craftsmanship here not seen in the U.S.

Next came the wire on the bottom half of the walls.  This is done to comply with code. 

While Jamey put the wire in I inserted the screens on the lower half.  We stopped when we ran out of hardware.

What we have so far looks stunning!  We had hoped to lightly sand this deck and give it a coat of Cetol, but that will have to be a project for another day.

Meanwhile, in Bali, finishing touches are being done on the kitchen cabinetry and countertops, and things like sinks and tubs are being chosen.  It will be months before all this arrives in Hana.  People who are curious about the project have a tendency to ask me when it’s all going to be finished.  The simple answer is I don’t know.  There are many variables at play, most of which are entirely out of my control.  All I can say is I’ve become comfortable with uncertainty. At one time we both felt this project was too much to handle and we nearly scrapped it, but somewhere along the way we found the grit and grace to stick with it.  I’m glad we did because in those moments when we are pounding on screens and drilling holes I don’t think much about how hard this has all been.  Instead I’m happy to be working with my hands in a beautiful setting… my mind miles away from things I cannot control.  

Today I attempted to go to Hana.  I should have known better because the weather was stormy and this area is particularly subject to landslides.  Just before mile marker 12 (given its about a 36 mile drive), I suddenly found myself at a standstill.  If only I had left 10 minutes earlier!  Argh!  Here’s a picture I lifted from FB.  It shows where people have basically cut the branches that were hanging over the road.  When I was there, the branches were covering the road thus making it essentially impassable.  If you ask me, I think cars have no business passing under a fallen tree anyway; what if the tree were to fall further?!  So I turned around and went home.Hours later, Jamey came home and we checked the road conditions.  The tree was cleared!  Call us crazy, but we had a task to do so we headed back out to Hana!  Before I show you the progress on our place, here is a photo that was taken last August. Now you see them:Now you don’t!  Yes, as you can tell, we had some more trees chopped down!  I know it looks a little sparse now, but if there is one thing you can count on in Hana, it’s the fact that the jungle always grows back.  We had to do it.  We are in the process of evaluating which site would be best to put our solar panels for electricity.  We were going to build a separate stand-alone structure, but that option is now “plan B” because adding another building would add cost and headache when you take into consideration the structure and two permits we would have to deal with.  “Plan A” would be to put it on the screened lanai (porch) located in the rear of the house.  We’re still not entirely sure that’s what we want to do, but for now at least we can see how the sunlight hits the various parts of our property.  Notice the leaf litter?  Thankfully, this too will be gone before long.I never thought I’d be so thrilled to see a set of stairs, but I am!  Just look at them!  They sure are beautiful and ooh so sturdy!  No more climbing on overturned buckets or ladders to get in!  What a difference a simple set of stairs can make!On the way home Jamey and I joked about how long this project has taken, how fancy the house is, and how we never would have done this if we knew what we were signing up for.  I’m glad things seem to be turning out ok.  Not only that, at least we have something that keeps us busy!

We are still in the process of installing that wire rail on the decks on the front of the house.  This type of coconut wood is not only an extremely dense wood, but it was also pressure treated and kiln dried which makes it an extremely strong wood.  Drilling into it has been a bit of an issue.  We learned early on not to use the cheap drill bits.  Only titanium bits will do here.  We also learned not to let the bit get too hot, otherwise the metal is quick to snap.  The drilling must be done slowly and methodically, and when drilling long holes its important to keep the angle constant… ahem… that was the lesson today.  Within five minutes our longest drill bit snapped!  Ugh!  When you are two hours away from the nearest hardware store, situations like this tend to be inconvenient, to say the least and I was really hoping to finish this project today.  Oh well.So we changed tasks. We were told that after the house is completed we have to put one last coat of finish on the exposed wood.  As it is, we simply can’t wait; this house faces due east and is very close to the ocean, the front is exposed not only to the rising sun, but also salty air blown in by the wind.  With that in mind we started the process of lightly sanding the front decks and applying a coat of Cetol Dek Finish.

Inside another layer of finish was being applied to the bedrooms.  That makes four coats!  That’s a lot of work! It’s simply stunning how beautiful these floors are turning out and I’m hoping all this work done now will save us work in years to come. 

On another deck, work was being done on a set of stairs which were installed after we left.  The wood is Ipe.  We chose it because these stairs will be exposed to sun and rain and Ipe has a good reputation for standing against the elements.  Our builder is doing such a nice job on the finish, I like to think we have the most beautiful set of stairs in Hana!  I’ll show you a completed pic when I get one. 

Someone, I don’t know who, left this pretty set of furniture on our front deck when we weren’t around.  If you are that person, I’d like to thank you!  Hana is like that sometimes… the kindness of people is real here.  There is a genuine sweetness to the community  and I think it comes with living in such a beautiful place.  

Even today, when the wind was gusty and the ocean was turbulent there was beauty all around.  It was a day where we could hear the waves crashing against the shore from inside the house.  The power of nature was on my mind. I was afraid those thick grey clouds would open up and dump all over our newly painted wood, but at least for today, the weather cooperated.  On our way home we were treated to raging waterfalls and churning streams of water.  I’m going to bed tonight thankful for such amazing builders who work tirelessly on our Hana home, and for a thoughtful neighbor who gave me a place to enjoy my tea. I’m thrilled to have accomplished a long planned task with Jamey, my partner in all this nonsense.  Finally, I’m reminded we live in a sometimes thunderous planet which if anything, keeps things exciting! 

  • jennyJanuary 27, 2017 - 9:29 am

    such a gorgeous place to call home

I went last week to check on progress on the Hana house.  Upon turning down our little road, I immediately noticed that someone has been busy cleaning up the church next door.  Thank goodness!  During the past year or so the jungle did as what jungles always do and overtook the parcel nearly swallowing the church in a twisted vine-ridden mess!  I remember thinking what a shame because this church is a landmark in Hana.  I used to give people directions to our place by saying “You know that little mission-style house on Waikoloa? Yeah, we’re right next to that.” There is a sign out front which used to read “Good Samaritan Church” and I’m thinking there was also something about the fact that this church was established in 1949. The words have long fallen off and the sign, as you can see is barely readable.  It’s a bit of a mystery to me the fact that when you google “church Hana Maui” there is no mention of this church.  I try to do a little research on this place and nothing shows up.  Not that something must be “google-able” in order to exist; it’s just that usually you can find something on the internet when you go to look things up.  I talked with the guy working on the property and he told me he is a pastor on Oahu, and he’s been coming out for weeks now working slowly to clean the place up.  He seemed sweet and earnest. He also seemed a little tired.  When I asked him why he is working so hard to do this, all he could do was shake his head and tell me “no church should ever be forgotten like this.” It’s a sad story.  This church belonged to his family and now he’s all it’s got.

I’ve only known this church long after it’s heyday.  I’ve only known it to be neglected and abandoned.  I wish I knew what it was like when it was fully functioning, but I’ve got nothing to draw from, my feelings for it are empty.   I wish this man had others helping him love this property.  Buildings are meant to be cared for, not forgotten.   I offered him help when it came time to clearing trees from the rear of his property.  Turns out we both want some of these trees removed; not only does it decrease leaf litter on our property, it also helps keep the jungle from taking his over.  This is perhaps the best it will look for a long time again.  He told me that this is the busy season at his church back on Oahu, so he won’t be coming as often.  Deep inside me I know that there has to be a light in the future of this church.  At least I can hope there will be. There has to be a reason why this man is working like he is. img_8158

As for our house, work is being done these past few weeks on the caulking part of this project.  As it is with single-wall construction, there are gaps here and there that need to be closed up to eliminate unwanted water from rain seeping in, or tiny creatures from the jungle making themselves at home.  It’s a tedious job.  The walls must be scrubbed and dusted, any debris needs to be removed before the caulking is applied.  Every joint gets attention.  The work must be done methodically.  img_8170For this type of work, our guy is using two shades of brown for the caulking.  He explained to me that the color of the wood calls for differing colors. Here you can see how he is working from right to left: img_8172

As I looked around I started to see places where this type of work needed to be done.  From inside, you can see little streams of light pouring in and in areas that have been patched up, you see darkness: img_8169

All I can think is “we’re going to need more putty!”img_8168I leave you with a 180 shot of this place taken mid-September.  The building you see on either side of this photo is actually the same structure; it’s the panorama effect that breaks it in two.  It’s not hard to see that water has flooded the area, covering the road that snakes around our property.  Thankfully, our structure is solid and built well off the ground.  I continue to be humbled by nature and it’s destructive forces. There is a part of me that wonders if this is all worth it.  When I get overwhelmed with the jungle, the elements, the cost and the amount of work that this place requires I start to loose faith.  Like my neighbor next-door, I’m not giving up. There is magic here, I just know it.  After all we’ve been through, all the set-backs, all the uncertainty, I simply must keep on forging ahead.  There is value in something hard-earned and this place and the life we had imagined for ourselves in it is worth the best of what we have to give.img_8113

  • Levi DeckerNovember 1, 2016 - 12:55 am

    Love you Robin!

Things are buzzing along in Hana!  The roof is nearly finished. If you zoom in you can see the end-caps that our roofer made specifically for this project.  I think it looks much nicer than some of the other examples of end-caps I’ve seen.  At the apexes, he cut tile and fit them together, much like a patchwork quilter would when making a “Lone Star” quilt.  We are still waiting for the glass tiles to arrive from Bali.  Those will be inserted just over our skylights.  As with the kitchen and bathroom vanities, they sit in the factory in Bali waiting to get wrapped and loaded into a shipping container.  What we have left there is not enough for one whole container, so our stuff is being packed with another structure that will be coming to Maui.  It’s always something.  Patience has become my middle name these past few years.IMG_7764If you’re wondering what glass tiles look like, here’s a shot of another roof with a glass tile skylight.  These tiles are loosely slipped onto the roof.  There are no nails, but they do use a type of glue to hold them in place.  Underneath and inside, there will be an etched glass panel lining the ceiling.  Inserting a skylight this way will allow sunlight to filter in while maintaining the patterning on the roof.  As long as those tiles stay intact, we’re good.IMG_0305The stairs on the screened lanai on the back are being installed.  This plank is our only way in for now.  I for one will be happy to see stairs as I don’t really care for the plank.  As you can see, concrete has been poured where the footings are installed.  The landing in the lower left-hand portion of the picture was texturized with rock salt to give it an organic “lava-rock” texture. IMG_7763  All the exposed concrete will be stained the color of red-dirt, another nod to the island upon which the house sits.IMG_7671The footings and porch for the second bedroom have been installed.  It looks wonderful, but what I see in this picture is the need for more wire rail to be installed in order to bring it up to code.  That gap in the front top edge was originally meant for a stairway, but we decided to get rid of the stairways on the two end rooms because the factory did not send us enough wood to complete the job.  Not only that, I think it simply looks better without them.  It’s an added bonus that we are saving on cost as well.  Pay attention to that gap, I’ll refer to it later.
IMG_7764Meanwhile inside, the flooring is getting a little attention.  All the gaps are filled in with tinted caulking.  After it dries, the floor will get a light sanding and a few coats of finish.  It’s a big job and attention to detail is key.  Small gaps in the floor can become an issue down the line if not tended to properly.IMG_7766You may have heard Hawaii is experiencing heavy weather this week.  Hurricane Madeline was no more than a mild wind and rain storm (for us, that is), but Hurricane Lester will be more of a threat.  Hana sits on the eastern end of Maui, it’s that little point on the right on the island next to the Big Island.  It’s first on Maui on the path of this storm.Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 2.31.19 PMOur workers have done well to board up the place in anticipation of the storm.  I’ll write more about coconut wood later, but for now just know its similar to concrete in strength. This structure was designed with this climate in mind.  It’s high off the ground, it’s heavy and it’s incredibly solid.  Needless to say,  I am concerned about those windows and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.  IMG_7776The house is well away from large trees which could pose a threat, but you never know.  Those glass panes would be difficult to repair.  Unlike western-styled windows, this glass is cut and beveled between ornate panes of wood.  You can sort of see it in this picture:

IMG_0217The look is charming but I’m ever so mindful of how much of a headache it would be if the glass breaks.  At least it’s thick tempered glass.  As for the rail in front, our builders did a fantastic job closing the gap!  I’m so thankful he’s good with modifications like this.  We all have our gifts don’t we?  I have nothing but respect for people who are considered craftsmen.  If I didn’t tell you, you’d never know this was an after-the-factory modification!IMG_7777I know many of you on the mainland are dealing with weather of your own.   I’m hoping mother nature is kind and we are all kept safe this hurricane season.  Tucked safely inside, I’m hoping you spend your time relaxing and reconnecting.  I know I will.  Cheers!

  • Jim BottomsDecember 5, 2017 - 11:48 am

    Robin, I saw your house last month on a quick drive-by and am amazed. It just looks so spectatular, unique in the true meaning of the word. What a marvelous design. I assume the bases of the columns are protection against termites? Please keep posting progress reports. Like many others, I’m looking forward to seeing the final product.

    Sincerely,
    Jim Bottoms

  • Vivien Zepf`October 1, 2016 - 4:59 pm

    This is just incredible! You are building a marvelous sanctuary.

  • jennySeptember 9, 2016 - 7:03 am

    ive really enjoyed these progress pictures. this place is going to be heaven on earth!

There are days we go to Hana and it seems as if not much has changed, on other days improvements are noticeable.  Like today for instance; the roofing instillation is well under way.  Stacks of tiles which were once in crates on the lawn have been broken down and piles of tiles are scattered on the roof.  Along the edges of the roof and valleys between roof lines, copper flashing has been installed, accenting beautifully the rows of terra-cotta colored tiles laid in place.

IMG_0343

Our job today was not to climb on the roof, we chose instead to do something a little more our speed, we started the installation of wire on the railings.  I’ve always loved the look of wire rails with wood.  It’s that blend of industrial and natural that grabs me.  The company we chose is called Atlantis, and the product line is called RailEasy. On the website last night we jotted down a simple list of tools we needed and watched a couple of how-to videos.  We were lucky enough to find a local supplier so we swung by there before heading to Hana.  The process is simple; measure and mark holes, screw in the anchors, insert wire and tighten up.  Easy peasy!  Right?

IMG_0336IMG_0340

Well… it took a little while but we figured it out.  Just as we started to get the hang of it, a man drove by and shouted “Akule!” from his window.  The roofers laughed but kept on working.  When asked what that meant, one of them encouraged me to go to the hale (house in Hawaiian) near the hotel and help the people remove fish from their net.

When we got there, people were gathering. The boat arrived and didn’t look like much at first, but when the process started I was impressed.

IMG_0310One by one, people lined up in two lines and netting was slowly pulled from the boat, fish tangled in it’s web.  Very quickly we found ourselves a part of this modern day “Hukilau” or fish harvest, pulling net and stopping from time-to-time to pry them free.  I was pleased and honored to be included in such a way. The old-timers were happy to show me how to remove the fish without damaging the net, and the kids were excited to take the fish from me once released.   After a while many more people showed up and thousands of feet of net were pulled from the boat.  On the other side of the field, two men carefully stowed the net on a wooden rack, folding it nicely for future use.  Today’s catch was Akule, or Bigeye Scad, and we were told it could be fried or seamed garnished slightly with shoyu.  If we wanted, we could take it to the hotel restaurant and they would prepare it for us for dinner!  IMG_0315IMG_0318IMG_0319IMG_0313IMG_0321IMG_0325After all the fish had been gathered, we stood around in one big circle, held hands and gave thanks.  Each person was treated to three fish. Today, I was told was a modest day of fishing.  The cooler used to store them in was only half full this time.  Some days are like that I’m told.IMG_0334Later at home, we had only enough time to finish one side of the rail.  This too was a modest day, we’ve got eight more rails to go.  Yes indeed, some days are just like that.
IMG_0348

Last I left you, the polycarbonate was being installed on the back lanai (patio).  As you can see here, it’s in and we are still waiting to install the screened panels that make the walls.  This space now is protected from rain and falling debris, but it’s become abundantly clear to me that this little room will be a hot-box on non-windy days.  The roof may look cool in a hip and snazzy way, but the plastic serves as a sort of magnifying glass in the hot hawaiian sun.  The reason why we chose this clear polycarbonate as opposed to a smoky one or even an opaque variety, was to allow ambient light to filter into the more central portion of the structure, given that the main building is relatively dark inside.  We also thought it would be a nice place to gather on cool evenings; that’s pure jungle you see there and it’s in this space that one can sit and enjoy the cool evening without being harassed by mosquito or other flying insects.   The thought of looking up at night and vaguely making out the shapes of moonlit clouds is something we’ve talked about, and something I’d like to preserve.  I’d hate to say we made a mistake by choosing the clear polycarbonate, but surely something needs to be done about shading this area on hot windless days. IMG_0264

  • robinAugust 6, 2016 - 10:05 am

    Great idea! I had originally only thought of a retractable cloth like canvas or some sort of all-weather material, but it seemed to me like there were a lot of moving parts, extra hardware, complicated instillation and multiple decisions to be made with this route. I really like the UV coating idea and it would be easy to install. I’ll look into it. Thanks!

  • ElizabethAugust 4, 2016 - 9:54 am

    You can buy different grades of shade cloth at commercial greenhouse supply places.
    Toss the cloth on top when u need to shade the hot sun. I’ve seen this work at outdoor cafés.

    Or you can drape beautiful clothes underneath the polycarbonate for a different affect.

  • Robin KAugust 2, 2016 - 8:10 am

    I would make some sort of retractable cover using shade cloth (like they use for grow houses for plants) for inside, or, could you get some sort of uv coating like they put on a car windshield? I did this for the windows in my office and it made it so much cooler in the room without impacting my view out the window. The tint wasn’t nearly as dark as the ones you see on cars. I did it myself also! Just bought the materials from the local hardware store.

  • Pippa @ Beads and BarnaclesAugust 2, 2016 - 2:00 am

    This looks lovely I can totally see why you went with clear, but understand the drawbacks.
    Would you be able to fit something like rollerblinds which came down the angle of the roof so you could pull them shut when it was a hot day and roll them back when you wanted it to be plain roof again?

I spent the night the other night at our house-in-progress in Hana.  It was simply divine; the room I slept on a foam mattress in our someday-livingroom.  I could hear the ocean pulsing on the shore, rain spattering outside and inside the temperature was cool enough that a simple sheet was all that was needed.

IMG_0227I delivered materials shipped from Kauai.  It was an oversight that this stuff got delivered to the wrong island and I was thankful it fit in the truck.  Pictured here is polycarbonate and soon it will be installed as roofing material over our screened lanai… or “porch” in Hawaiian.
IMG_7280You can see this lanai through these sliding doors.  Work is being done now to mosquito proof this area and we are all scratching our heads as far as the flooring is concerned.  Between those slats are spaces wide enough for creatures to get in.  I don’t mind the geckos but they are messy.  I haven’t seen ants or roaches (yet), and I really dislike mosquitos.  I’m sure someday we will come up with a workable solution. IMG_0217We recently had a little yard work done on the property.  The place looks like a mess now that the lawn is littered with logs and stumps.  Overtime however this too will have to be cleaned up. For now, at least we have a nice place to sit. IMG_0230I noticed the back side of the house is prone to mold.  There is a part of me that wants to avoid chemicals like bleach, but it might be that we will have to go there.  The house is still not secured to the footings and neither the footings to the cement below.  There are 53 footings and each one of them will need to be dealt with.  First the house gets jacked up ever so slightly, then the cement is marked after the footings are positioned well, holes are then drilled into the cement where the anchoring screws are to be placed, then the footings are repositioned, screwed down and secured to the post! Voila!  Easy peasy… right?!IMG_0231Construction clean-up has begun.  It’s a pitty to see all this wrapping material get tossed, but really, what else can be done with it?  The dump in Hana does not accept this type of refuse, so all this gets loaded on trucks headed for Kahului.  Modest attempts at burning and recycling are made when we can.  Anybody want to buy a container in Hana?
IMG_7271Many people have stopped by during the building process and commented on the progress.  It makes me feel good too to see how this is coming along, but at the same time I see all that needs to come.  This week the stairs are getting installed and the final walls are going up.  We are still weighing our options with regards to the roof.  I’m liking that we are able to take a little bit of a breather between phases so I can at least focus on something else for a while.  I’m reminded everyday how this is hurricane season, so really, we have no business slowing down now; better to get that roof on and locked down!  Maybe then I can shift my attention.
IMG_7269

  • Kay SorensenJuly 13, 2016 - 11:46 am

    Wonder if you could put landscape cloth (li,e we use I dyer our mulch) under the floor boards on the lanai to keep out the mosquitos?

  • robinJuly 10, 2016 - 9:45 am

    OK, I’m game. Do you know of an essential oil that kills green moss/mold? I happen to have Eucalyptus oil… I’ll google it now! Thanks!

  • Eva Maria GassJuly 10, 2016 - 9:37 am

    Hi Robin, have you ever thought of turning that container into something beautiful like a studio, guestroom etc.? There are many beautiful examples for container houses on pinterest!

  • Paige AlexanderJuly 5, 2016 - 2:12 am

    Getting closer! Enjoying the progress!

  • LoriJuly 5, 2016 - 2:06 am

    Just beautiful! Why don’t you look into essential oils instead of bleach? We had a pipe burst in our home and the clean up company used Oil of Thyme instead of bleach or the other fungicides. It is healthier for you and the environment along with being very effective.

  • Cathy BertanzettiJuly 4, 2016 - 6:23 pm

    Simply beautiful.

On my coffee table these days are three books; “The Architect Says” compiled by Laura S. Dushkes, “Cloth Lullaby” by Amy Novesky and Isabelle Arsenault, and “‘Olelo No’eau” compiled by Mary Kawena Pukui.  These books, although vastly different in scope and structure, have their ways of speaking to me today.

IMG_0212

 

I’m thinking about our visit to Hana earlier this week.  The structure is nearly built, the containers unloaded, and crates of roofing tiles dot our front yard.  It certainly has been a long and trying endeavor to build this house.  There were times along the way that we both felt overwhelmed and clueless.  Persistence and grit helped us find our way, uncertainty and belly-aching did not.  The end is in sight, or at least the place where we can pause is finally within reach.  Lately, I’m finding it easier to breathe. From the Architecture book, I’m inspired by the words of Tom Kundig when he said, “People who build their own home tend to be very courageous.  These people are curious about life. They’re thinking about what it means to live in a house, rather than just buying a commodity and making it work.”  From the “Cloth Lullaby” there is a passage which reads, “If you bash into the web of a spider, she doesn’t get mad.  She weaves and repairs it.” And finally, from the Hawaiian proverb book, I read, “Ua hall ka ho’oilo, ua malie,” or “Trouble is gone; peace now abides.”  So go these early days of summer. IMG_0186
IMG_0195

IMG_0183

  • VivienZepfJune 26, 2016 - 5:39 am

    The Hana House is looking great; what a peaceful retreat it be.

Progress is being made almost weekly these days with regards to the project.  Our latest discussion involves the possibilities for electricity.  Do we go solar? Do we try to connect with the grid?  Each choice comes with a different set of problems, both equally complex and time consuming.  If we go the solar route, we can really only count on 4 hours of sunlight a day given the weather patterns, location and amount of jungle in this area.  This would obligate us to have a dependable battery or batteries to store unused power.  Tree trimming will be a must as well as having a generator backup if/when we encounter consecutive days of poor weather.  If we go solar, we might as well install a solar water heater, although, it’s my guess that might be overkill given that here in Hana one uses only tepid water to shower with since it’s so hot already.  Solar electricity would include the addition of propane for cooking and the dryer, which would involve a propane tank, a separate shed for the tank and some sort of maintenance plan to not only survey and troubleshoot the system when we are not out there, but also to refill the tank when it runs dry.  Since we don’t plan on living there full-time (for now), ease of maintenance is big on my list of priorities.

Connecting to the grid poses a different set of problems.  I spoke with the Maui Electric guy and he said we needed to put in a pole, if not two (the electricity out here is all above-ground), which would involve obtaining the necessary drawings, easement(s) and permit(s)… we need to find out if the road we are on belongs to the homeowners or if it’s a county road… I’m pretty sure it’s county, but not entirely sure… we need to decide if we want to run the wire from our new pole over or underground, and finally, we need to submit our plans, permits, drawings, necessary contracts to Maui Electric for review, which in all honesty only starts the conversation.  Frustrated, I asked him where to begin.  He advised we get a consultant but was unable to tell me how to get one. This unveiled a whole different set of questions.  How do I do that?  Search on Google for “maui, electricity, consultant?”  Craigslist?  How will I know if I’ve found one?  Will they have a special badge that says “I’m a consultant?”  Honestly, I could write a book on how mired in bureaucracy and complexity things are when it comes to building a house in Hawaii, which I’m sure is pretty similar in other parts of the U.S., maybe even the world all over for that matter.   The good news with regards to the electricity is that for the time being we are surviving with a simple generator.

IMG_6830

In the fixture department, we’ve decided to go with this fan.  It’s called “Haiku” by Big Ass Fans. Yes, that’s their name.  What I like about it is how simple and sleek they look.  The blades are made of either coco or bamboo, depending on the color you want.  A bonus is that they are really efficient.

prod-feature-haiku-design

I found this fan and other fixtures at Valley Isle Lighting.  The guy I’m working with is the owner and he seems to really know his stuff. Of course he does, he owns the place.  In a process mired with a million decisions, he was able to not only understand what I was looking for, but also narrow down the option list for me so that my decision was easy.  Sometimes having a lot of choices is not a good thing.  If you are in the area, his name is Erik.

IMG_6819We visited Hana last weekend and were able to make a modest impact on the process.  We moved supplies to safer, less exposed places, cleaned up what little bit of construction mess there was, and started the process of lightly sanding and painting all exposed bolt ends on the base of the building.  Of course, being so close the ocean we have already taken a few precautions when it comes to rust like stainless steel hardware and obtaining end caps for these holes, however we figured it wouldn’t hurt for us to visually inspect each bolt and hit them with a shot of paint that protects the metal from rust.

IMG_6869IMG_6870It was nice to see our builder Levi, and spend a brief time with him by the campfire in the evening.  It’s clear that working in this remote area involves a change in lifestyle for him and his crew, like living in tents and cooking over an open fire, but so far they have all been gracious when discussing the sacrifices they have made.  Something tells me Hana has been a good thing for them.  At least I hope.  We are lucky to have them. IMG_6881The weekend we arrived, the community of Hana was hosting a “taro” festival.  I’ve blogged about it before; it’s an annual event in Hana, a largely Hawaiian community, that celebrates taro, the staple food of Hawaii.  This year, we missed the singing, dancing and food, but were delighted to find on Sunday the community hosted a special breakfast which featured taro pancakes and taro hash.  It was all delicious!  At the bay, people were organizing for the Olukai Ho’olaulea challenge or in other words a race of sailing canoes from Hana to Kahului.  What’s a sailing canoe, you ask?  Picture this; if an out-rigger canoe and a sailboat and a baby, this would be it.  It was such a treat to watch these colorful canoes paddling out the bay, sails waving in the breeze.

IMG_6867

Finally, from the factory today is a picture of the kitchen as it stands.  On the island in front is a wood slab.  We asked them to make it “not perfect” and if you look, you will notice that smooth organic edge on the left has a slight curve to it.  The countertops will (hopefully) be changed to black and that sink will also be switched out as well.  The whole kit should be delivered sometime in June.HTP-1

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all these details.  It helps that I’m reasonably organized and I keep notes, papers and emails in their proper places, yet there are times when my mind feels like it’s going to explode from information overload.  Sometimes I grow weary of the process and want to quit.  I’ve learned that’s not an option, because leaving the project would be a disaster and I’m the only one who has the time, knowledge and energy to see it to completion.  Over the years, I’ve had dark moments with regards to finishing things that I’ve started and in the end I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way out is through tenacity.  I’m inspired by my children who continue to do well in school despite sometimes daily complaints that school is a drag.  I’m inspired by Jamey who for years continues to work hard in providing for us despite being faced with the frustrations of the work world. Finally, I’m inspired by the words of Calvin Coolidge when he said amongst other things, “The slogan “press on” has solved, and always will solve the problems of the human race.”  I have no choice but to press on.  This house  simply must be seen to fruition.  When it’s all over, I can relax.  When it’s all over we will at least have something to show for our troubles.

  • Janey HerreraMay 9, 2016 - 10:23 am

    Robin, check with the Custom Service Department or the Engineering Department at Maui Electric about your consultant concerns.
    We bought a Big Ass Fan- even here in Washington it gets hot enough to use it. We love ours!