Small Vacation Rental in Waikiki Gets a Breathtaking Makeover

Local interior design firm livens up this space.

Studio Shaolin is an interior design firm based in Honolulu. Owner and principal designer Shaolin Low and her team are proud of completing projects across the state. “We specialize in new build, renovation and interior furnishings,” she says.

“Our clients come to us when they want a partner in their project and someone to really take the reins, so they don’t have to.”

The company works exclusively with trade vendors to bring the best pieces and materials to Hawaii. “We love what we do and are always excited to work with new clients on their projects.”

Photos: Suarez Creative House

This project is a vacation rental in Waikiki. The clients live in California and own two other units here in Hawaii. “This is the third unit we have done for them,” says Low. “It’s always a complete gut renovation of the space and an overhaul of the unit — functionality and style.”

The original space was small, cramped and cluttered with furniture, an AC unit in the window, a refrigerator opposite the bed and a mounted storage shelf that made the ceiling feel lower. Additionally, she says, the bathroom had a vanity that was too small for the wall and the tub had a shower curtain.

Now the space looks bright, airy and big. “They wanted modern, with feels of Japandi for the overall look and style,” says Low. “They wanted a functioning kitchen, shower in the bathroom and a space for additional seating and storage.”

Low says Studio Shaolin’s creative process for this remodel was very different from the company’s other projects because renovating a vacation rental has a much quicker turnaround. “We usually have these started and completed within four to six weeks,” she says. “So typically, it’s one meeting with the client where they tell me their vision for the unit, we set a budget and then I design and execute everything very quickly with the contractor and our vendors to get it fully furnished within the timeline allotted.

“It’s a lot of fun for us because the client gives the initial direction, but then we have full freedom to select and design everything,” she adds.

With this project, Low says supply shortages and shipping damages were the biggest challenges for her team. “We ended up having a delay because tile had arrived broken and we had to wait for additional pieces to get shipped out,” she says. “It’s always interesting when you open the walls and see what you’re actually dealing with, so every renovation comes with challenges, but finding creative solutions is the fun part of our job.”

For more information about Studio Shaolin and to see some of the company’s other completed projects, visit

Categories: Digital Exclusive, Interior Design, Renovations, Small Spaces