A Colorful & Tropical Renovated Home in Hawaii

A Colorful & Tropical Renovated Home in Hawaii

Megan Spelman
Jun 16, 2017

Name: Tara Gray, husband Luc, daughter Channing and bunny Lilly
Location: Waikoloa, Hawaii
Size: 1200 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years, owned

"What if we sold everything we owned and paid off all our debts...which would allow us to create some amazing new adventures for our family? " Where could we go? Where would we want to live?" In 2013, these are the questions the Gray family began asking themselves and six months later, they found themselves on the Big Island of Hawaii. They sold their home in Colorado and almost everything in it (with the exception of irreplaceable and meaningful items), said goodbye to friends and family, and traveled across the Pacific Ocean to begin their new Hawaiian Life.

The only way they could afford to purchase a home on the island was to find something in need of renovation. With Luc being a home builder and Tara an interior designer, they were ready to take on the challenge. Though this home was in obvious need of repair, Tara immediately feel in love with its potential; plantation-style architectural details, high ceilings in the main living area and the large private lanai tucked between the garage and main house were key selling points. The interior of the home was another matter completely...the kitchen was old, dingy and covered in gecko droppings, the floor had been removed throughout the house leaving only the plywood substrate. The previous owner had painted all of the walls various shades of green, leaving the home feeling dark and very dated. Outside, vegetation hadn't been maintained in years and was extremely overgrown.

"This home truly, and quite literally, has our blood, sweat and tears put into it and we are so proud of the outcome," says Tara. "I spent days hacking away at the overgrown hedges and pulling weeds that were up to my waist." Tara, who has a love for gardening, transformed the gravel and weed covered front gardens into a tropical oasis filled with local plants and flowers and plenty of succulents. Tara shares much of her family's journey, as well as her love for color, plants and design, on her Instagram account.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Inspiration: Color, Hawaii Life; the beach, the sand, sunsets, local foliage. Local artists

Favorite Element: Our private lanai

Biggest Challenge: Cost of materials and availability on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean

What Friends Say: The house is welcoming and cozy, bright and happy with its high white ceilings and tropical pops of color.

Biggest Embarrassment: The house is only half painted…since we're doing all the work ourselves, sometimes life gets in the way of finishing projects. We've painted the part you can see from the street but haven't gotten to finish the rest.

Proudest DIY: The entire house is a big DIY. The kitchen is probably the highlight.

Biggest Indulgence: Cork flooring throughout. Though it's a hard surface, it feels softer under foot than tile or wood and provides better acoustic properties with our high ceilings. I love the texture and mocha color. Also tropical plants and succulents, lots of them!

Best Advice: In order for fun tropical colors like we've used to work, a neutral background is important. For cleaner brighter accents, I always recommend white walls and ceilings. This allows those fun accessories to really pop.

Dream Sources: Being able to start collecting original art from local artists. I have a lot of prints and reproduction canvases, but I would also love to start collecting some beautiful original works. Also, I love so many pieces from Made Goods. I'd love to have a few in our home one day.


Benjamin Moore, Decorator's White

Entry Lanai/garden — White hanging pots from West Elm (no longer available)
Rattan Egg Chairs — Similar style can be found on Wayfair
Bicycle — Madsen Vintage Blue Bike .

Sofa— Kaloko Furniture
Besta Customizable Entertainment Center — IKEA
Living Room Rug - Jaipur Living
Stockholm Coffee Table - IKEA
Coat Rack and Hula Lamp - CB2
Artwork — Heather Brown; Heather Brown; Colleen Wilcox; Claudia Chloe; Rob Branson
Decorative Floral Mirror - DENY DESIGNS
Floral Pillow — Colleen Wilcox
P Kaufmann Seahorse Pillows — Sailrite
Bookends (mermaid and whale) — SoHa Living
Beach Bags — Tag Aloha
Beach Hats and Bags — Hello Happy Town

Dining Table — CB2
Dining Chairs — Target
Counter Stools — Target
Yellow/Glass Cabinets — IKEA
Bamboo Glass Wall Storage — IKEA Rimforsa
Kitchen Cabinets, Countertops and Island Top — Built by my husband
Artwork — Bree Madden: Beach Tower, California Palm and Ombre Beach; Kris Goto

Bunk Bed — IKEA Stuva
Light Fixture — IKEA
Canopy/Flamingo Cushion — Blue House Joys
Area Rug — FLOR Like Minded, Pink

Artwork — Colleen Wilcox
Hawaiian Bracelets — Etsy
Gold Necklaces — James Michelle

Thanks, Tara and family!

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