A Small Scandi-Inspired Hawaii Townhouse Has a Cute Use for an Otherwise Useless Crawlspace

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airy living room with white sofa, wood floors, light wood paneled wall, light wood and white accents
The living room looking into the kitchen.

Name: Emilie Erskine
Location: Princeville, Hawaii, on the island of Kauai
Size: 759 square feet
Type of Home: Townhome, vacation home
Years lived in: 4 months

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The king bed is tight in the primary bedroom, but comfort won.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there. Kauai is the only place where our Los Angeles-based family can truly relax. The landscape and views are so impactful that we knew we wanted the inside to be easy on the eyes — a neutral, beach-washed environment that doesn’t compete for your attention with the expansive ocean views. The home is a clean, comfortable environment with sustainability at its core that isn’t so precious that we worry about our kids tracking in dirt.

We added a dedicated work station for the never ending zoom meetings.

When this townhome came on the market, we submitted our offer without ever setting foot there — a precarious move. The home had been neglected, and the deferred maintenance was tangible in the listing photos, but we knew we could transform it into a calm, warm, and welcoming environment. And the view! Ocean, mountains, and waterfalls! Kauai at its finest.

The dining room overlooking the ocean.

While in escrow, we began planning our design details but intended to start the renovation several months later. Then the sewer backed up and exploded into the unit over Thanksgiving week, and we found ourselves at day one of the renovation months ahead of schedule. Doing a renovation on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean pushed us right up to the breaking point a few times. When that happened, we stepped onto the lanai, took a deep breath, and looked to the next immediate task. In the end, our family created our very own Hawaiian paradise.

We kept the lower cabinets and updated with stone counters and shelving.

I (Emilie) am half Chinese and half Scandinavian. The design is my cultural mix as a home. The natural woods, clean minimalism, and considered styling reflect Scandi themes, while the Feng Shui calls to my Chinese heritage. The neutral palette keeps the focus on the glorious nature vistas from every window and calms the mind.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or fewer: Neutral wabi-sabi happiness.

The hideout! Carved out of an unused crawlspace.

What is your favorite room and why? The Hideout! This area was a dead space — a crawl space above the lanai. There’s five feet of head clearance at the highest point, so we instantly thought it would be the perfect clubhouse for our kids. I built a redwood covering for the AC tubes that ran across the spaces, turning it into a shelf and cork-board art display. Two bean-bag chairs, a rug from Target, and for less than $300 we transformed the space into something our kids love.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home?
An artist hand drew this magical wallpaper we used in the primary bathroom called “Ku’u Home Hawaii” to represent the Waimanalo Farm lots where her children grew up. We also got an ingenious coffee table with integrated stools for extra seating, a gorgeous light for our stairwell that is an art piece in itself, and this print to hide the electrical panel.

The second bedroom features two twins with storage.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Try doing things yourself! Except for electrical and plumbing.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.