Jim & Doris' Global Island Oasis

House Tour

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Name: Jim & Doris
Location: Honolulu
Size: 14,000 square feet
Years lived in: Owned

It's always fun to get a sneak peek into really spectacular homes, and today's tour certainly fits the bill. Tucked away on the island of Oahu, Jim and Doris created a retreat from everyday life that's as remarkable as it is immersive. As you move through the rooms, it's hard to believe this house is located in the USA.

Doris and Jim traveled to Hawaii on their honeymoon, and Doris fell hard for the island. Wooed by the warm breezes and friendly people, she pledged to build a home there as soon as she could.

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During the construction period, Doris continually brought back architectural features, textiles, tiles, and art from other countries —especially the Middle East— to incorporate into the building. What she couldn't physically bring back she sketched for future reference, and asked local artisans and craftspeople to recreate features based on those drawings.

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What's truly remarkable about the home is how Doris managed to combine both a clean modernism with more traditionally ornate features. On one hand, the house is filled with brightly colored tile, graphic pattern, and carved ceilings. However, these peacefully co-exist, for example, with a glass wall that fully disappears into the floor and opens the home up to the outdoors. The blend of these two disparate approaches to design uniquely defines the home.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

From Doris:

My Style: I usually say "Modern meets Middle Eastern" (but my style is really a hodge-podge of different cultures)

Inspiration: I'm a very lucky woman who has the means to travel. I've picked up inspiration from all of the countries I visited, but especially Morocco and India.

Favorite Element: I didn't hold back when designing the home, so there are so many elements to choose from! But I do love the sliding carved doors and window screens. The fabric panels that raise and lower in the dining room are pretty cool too.

Biggest Challenge: Shipping things to the house from very far away.

What Friends Say: This place is Shangri-la! When can I come back?

Biggest Embarrassment: I wouldn't change a thing.

Proudest DIY: This might not qualify as a DIY, but I hand-selected almost all of the fixtures and finishes of the house.

Biggest Indulgence: It's a toss up between: 1) the ornate painted and gilded wood paneling in the guest room, acquired from a royal home in Damascus in the 19th Century; and 2) the Turkish red velvet fabric panel, which dates to the 17th Century.

Best Advice: The trend of the day might be Art Deco, but you should fill your home with things YOU love and are passionate about. Defy social convention and go for it.

Dream Sources: Alhambra

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Resources of Note:

It would take a long time to list all the resources that went into this house. Suffice it to say, it took me many years to accumulate everything used to initially build the home, then furnish and decorate it. I worked with an amazing architect, along with multiple artisans, to get what I wanted. I love everything about it, and expect to spend a lot of happy years here.

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Thanks, Doris!

• HOUSE TOUR ARCHIVE: Check out past house tours here.
• Interested in sharing your home with Apartment Therapy? Contact the editors through our House Tour Submission Form.
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(Image credits: Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art)

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Main, Style, April Fools, House, Tours

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