Kaimuki Home Renovation Keeps Its Vintage Charm

This 1920s bungalow gets a modern update while maintaining its original glamour.
charming home living room
Photo: Olivier Koning

The allure of being steps away from the bustle of coffee shops, restaurants and niche stores is what attracted Joy Sonson and her husband, Rocky Mould, to the Kaimuki area. They had lived in New York for some time and the tight-knit Kaimuki community felt like the perfect place for the family of three, with a similar walkable neighborhood vibe.

Luckily, they spotted a home online up for sale in the neighborhood. “It had an old, charming cottage feel and the location was the biggest thing – and the views,” shares Sonson. They put in their offer and heard back immediately. The house was theirs. “It all just flowed together; it was really easy,” Sonson says of the process.

The 1920s residence was in good condition, brimming with details like board-and-batten walls and original hardwood floors. “Another thing my husband loved was that because we are a little up high, we have natural trade winds so it’s naturally cooling,” says Sonson.

After a few years of living in the home and with their young daughter growing up, however, it was clear that the space was starting to feel limited. “Two bedrooms and one bathroom — that was perfect for us at the time,” she reflects. Now, it was time to make more room.

The homeowners entrusted the full-service design-build firm Homeworks Construction — they had met and talked with representatives of the company at a BIA-Hawaii home show — to help them with their renovation. The idea was to preserve the charm of the nearly century-old bungalow while adding modern updates and making space for a new master bedroom and bathroom.

“Our team was excited that the owners were committed to keeping the home true as possible to its 1927 roots,” shares Marshall Hickox, president of Homeworks Construction.

midcentury modern bathroom
Midcentury modern design served as the inspiration for the master bathroom, which features a vanity with golden-brown cabinets and brass accents, double sinks and a linen cabinet.

The renovation began with the additional master bedroom and bathroom, which took over what had been an outdoor deck area. The main goal was to design it to match the rest of the home. Fir solid wood flooring from Pacific American Lumber was installed to parallel the existing hardwood floors and ceiling trim details were added for continuity, shares selections specialist Elyse Grable.

“The existing details of the trim work and finishes are what made the home unique and special,” adds Grable. “This is the reason why they wanted to carry the same design throughout the newly renovated areas.”

The master bathroom features a midcentury modern feel, including white square tiled shower walls, penny tile mosaic shower floors and gray hexagonal floor tiles that go with the golden-brown cabinetry and brass accents at the vanity. “I wanted to kind of add a little warmth there, especially with the kitchen being so muted. We loved midcentury modern, which doesn’t totally fit with the 1920s bungalow, but it works,” says Sonson.

open kitchen
The open kitchen echoes the design of the rest of the home with matching trim, molding and a coffered ceiling for a seamless look.

Homeworks Construction then opened up the cramped kitchen to the living and dining areas. “The existing kitchen was small and enclosed, which is typical for these older single-wall homes,” says kitchen and bath specialist Sean Bradshaw. “This would provide a much more feeling of togetherness for the family and make the kitchen more accessible.”

repurposed details and stained-glass door
Many of the home’s original details and pieces were kept or repurposed, like the stained-glass entryway door and the relocated large glass doors in the dining area.

Beams and support posts were put in place, and walls and an exterior swinging door were removed. Larger glass doors in the dining area were added to let in more natural light. The ceiling was also redone in a coffered style throughout the rest of the home. “We also added all the trim and moldings to match and gave the remodeled kitchen a seamless look,” Bradshaw says.

Many of the home’s original features had to be re-created from scratch, adds Hickox, including a lot of the matching trim and molding.

master bedroom
The master bedroom features windows in a similar style as the home’s original ones, but with modern upgrades like UV protection and noise cancellation.

The owners especially loved the theme of renewability and sustainability in their family home. For instance, original pieces were reused in other areas – the pocket door of the kitchen, for example, was relocated to the master bathroom. Sustainable products were also added, such as a standing seam roof, solar panels and energy-efficient appliances in the kitchen.

“I love that there’s more space,” adds Sonson of her home renovation. “I love that it still looks like an old home and I love that it’s more modern.”


Categories: Featured Homes