A “Rough Luxe” Organic Farm & Homestead on Hawaii’s Big Island

updated Apr 30, 2019

A “Rough Luxe” Organic Farm & Homestead on Hawaii’s Big Island

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Name: Ana and Luis Castillo
Location: 7 acre organic farm in Kealakekua Bay, Big Island, Hawaii
Size: 1,100 square feet
Years lived in: 14 years, owned/leased

Luis and Ana Castillo met on Hawaii’s Big Island fourteen years ago. Former Californians, they pooled their talents for design and building to create a unique “Rough Luxe” seven-acre sustainable homestead and farm on the lush volcanic slopes of Mauna Loa. Together, they’ve created a beautiful and sophisticated home in the jungle of Hawaii — almost entirely out of recycled materials!

A lifelong recycler, Luis has an incredible skill for reuse. In fact, this home actually started as a 400-square-foot tent, with soaring 20-foot ceilings, which had been bartered in exchange for Luis building a rock wall for someone! It became the central core of their home. At first, the tent was reconfigured with wood framed plywood on both ends to incorporate a screened entry door and two large screened windows. But as their family grew and they needed more room, the tent gradually expanded to 1100 square feet with a series of add-ons: a corrugated metal cantina kitchen, an open-air bathroom, three bedrooms and a lanai.

Luis dramatically reduced the cost of building materials for his home by using salvaged materials — including shipping pallets for the sub floors, which he covered with a variety of readily available natural materials: wall-to-wall sea grass, self-harvested and milled cypress for the kitchen floor, and salvaged pieces of marble and granite for the bathroom floor.

The result of building a home almost entirely out of recycled materials is certainly unique architecture. Ana and Luis were inspired by the iconic tin-roofed coffee shacks that formerly housed Japanese and Hawaiian coffee laborers. The temperate climate, an abundance of natural materials and the challenges of a very low budget also played a part in shaping the home’s one-of-a-kind aesthetic.

But it’s not just the construction of the home that makes it extraordinary; the inside is beautifully furnished as well. Each gorgeous piece of furniture and every countertop and window has a great story of finding a place in their home.

Ana works full time as an interior designer on the Big Island of Hawaii and Luis dedicates himself to his own masonry business, as well as farming the acreage they call home. Visiting their home is an inspiration for using what is around you to make a gorgeous and stylish home in nature.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: “Rough Luxe,” Modern Minimalism with bohemian accents

Inspiration: Instagram and Pinterest, design blogs like Apartment Therapy and Remodelista, travels to India, Morocco, Bali and Mexico, the Bay area, LA and NY, restaurants and boutiques in San Francisco Mission District and Abbot Kinney, ABC Carpet. Collaborating with my husband who is my favorite forager and can upcycle anything!

Favorite Element: Our tent’s high ceilings and blank canvas white walls surrounded by a tropical jungle.

Biggest Challenge: Sourcing modern, mid-century and vintage materials from the limited inventory of a small island. Our tent’s tarp walls.

What Friends Say: An inspiration of how to do a lot with less.

Biggest Embarrassment: Complaining about our plywood and exposed stud walls for years until they became trendy, then suddenly loving them!

Proudest DIY: The clear corrugated roof we chose for our bathroom brings the sun and light in and makes you feel like you’re taking an outdoor shower.

Biggest Indulgence: Our stainless steel appliances, especially our dishwasher!

Best Advice: Make do with what you have. You don’t have to have a master plan. Let the design of your home grow with you and unfold as your needs change.

Dream Sources: My husband’s tool shed, my boss’s showroom of Indonesian and Moroccan antiques (Jeanne Marie Imports), world travels, eBay, Craigslist, garage sales, salvation army, habitat for Humanity, nature and online shops like Semikah Textiles and Cloth and Goods, and my mom’s barn in upstate New York filled with industrial antiques.


Walls — Valspar OVOC Dove White
Floors — Valspar OVOC Medium Grey

Antique teak table and two chairs, found on a buying trip to Bali, Indonesia
Carved chest (holding dog and cat food), from Jodhpur India, Jeanne Marie Imports

Thrifted pair of Vintage hoop chairs circa 1955, yard sale
Thrifted pair of vintage ratan and leather club chairs, Craigslist
Antique teak mortar table, Craigslist
Stump side tables, made by Luis using logs from our farm
Moroccan wool rug: 5 x 8, by NuLoom,
Sisal rug: 10 x 12, Craigslist
Jute rug: 5 x 7, target
Authentic fish trap, repurposed and hung as light over the club chairs, yard sale
Set of three rooster basket lights, Jeanne Marie Imports
Glass front cabinet, white washed, yard sale
Oak cabinet (holding tv), yard sale

Countertops made from hand milled local Lychee wood
Floor made from hand milled local cypress wood
Reclaimed teak farm table with six dining chairs — Jeanne Marie Imports
Cast iron farm sink found at a local junk yard
Metal shop lights — Amazon
Corrugated metal back splash wall —Lowe’s
Wall hanging storage system —Ikea

King size bed made by Luis using up cycled pallets and crates, with a headboard draped in indigo Mali mud cloth found on eBay
Linens, sheets and duvet, West Elm
Salvaged redwood as walls

Floor is made of salvaged marble scraps from a local stone yard
Clear corrugated roof — Lowe’s
Salvaged Ohia logs as structural elements

Thanks, Ana and Luis!

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