Remaking A Masterpiece

A mismatched kitchen is remade into a more fitting form for its new owners.
Photos: Olivier Koning, Courtesy of Koolau Builders

When Steve Eisenberg and Courtnay Bloomer moved into this Old Manoa house, the kitchen was like a mess of mismatched puzzle pieces.

It was divided by a wall that created two separate rooms while also blocking airflow and hiding the picturesque view of Diamond Head. A stairway leading to the basement cut into the kitchen.

They wanted a brighter, more open kitchen for cooking and entertaining that would fit well in the house, built in 1926. “We wanted to modernize it to a degree, but keep the same charm with period details,” Eisenberg says.

The family called upon local design-build firm Koolau Builders to solve their problems with the kitchen. They wanted to retain the 91-year-old house’s Old Manoa charm, but give its kitchen a much-needed new floor plan with functionality for their family of three, plus the dog.

Koolau Builders designed a new kitchen for the family that honors the house’s Manoa roots, blending it with the space while providing modern aesthetic and function.

Two-tone cabinets, in sapele and white, break up what would otherwise be an almost all-white kitchen, Tang explains. The two different styles of cabinet pulls are playful, while tying in the house’s character.

The team went to work tearing out the linoleum floors and discovered original white oak underneath that could be refinished and restored. They removed the wall that divided the kitchen into separate spaces, and relocated the stairway to a more sensible location within the house.

“Relocating the old stairway really allowed us to use so much more of the space for the kitchen,” says Nick Tang of Koolau Builders. “Even though this is somewhat of a galley-type kitchen, it has so much working space in separate locations, they have room for four or more people working at the same time.”

The kitchen is a transitional style that blends elements of the house’s past with today’s trends. The two-tone cabinets are shaker style in sapele on the lower and white on the upper. “Having two-tone cabinets visually extends the already-high 10-foot ceilings,” Tang explains. “The clients wanted something that held on to some of the elements of the original house while bringing in some warmer tones that lean on a more tropical or island feel. The lower wood cabinets break up what would otherwise be an almost all-white kitchen.”

Dinnerware is tucked away in a closet with open shelves.

The cabinet pulls are a mixture of glass knobs and bar pulls, both from Fiddler’s. The glass knobs pay tribute to the original 1920s glass knobs on most of the doors throughout the house, while the bronze pulls are practical and also bring in other elements from throughout the house.

Koolau Builders replaced all the old windows with new, energy-efficient fiberglass windows. They also removed an awning that hung outside, allowing a view of Diamond Head and the Waikiki skyline to show from the kitchen and dining areas.

The homeowners have an informal dining area at their Boos Block table, and a more formal dining table for family meals and entertaining. The chairs are 1950s-era mid-century modern style from Denmark, while the table is from Crate & Barrel.

“Uncovering the view and natural light was such a dramatic change that really added an extra ‘wow’ factor to the kitchen,” Tang says.

The homeowners are happily settled into their new kitchen, and find themselves cooking and baking more than ever before, with plenty of counter space, new appliances and a welcoming, bright kitchen.

“It looks the way it was supposed to be. In some ways we’ve restored its natural grandeur, and I think that’s what I appreciate the most,” Bloomer says.

Categories: Interior Design, Kitchen, Renovations