Swiss Modern

A new addition and a stream of airy stairways complete a family’s Manoa home.
Photo: Olivier Koning

The life of this home started and stopped on the stairs. Perched on a hillside above a narrow street, a cascade of 56 rain-worn stairs were the only path to the Manoa Valley home’s entrance. The homeowners initially hired architect Mireille Turin to repair and reconstruct the outdoor staircase, but she had another idea. “I suggested they build an interior staircase to create a new space and add value to their home,” explains Turin. “They liked the idea. So, we set out to design a functional and usable space, allowing access to the rest of the house and establishing a coherent exterior look.”

After rezoning the space above the carport for construction, Turin designed a 400-square-foot lofted studio with a wet bar, full bathroom and a multitude of large picture windows to capitalize on the stunning views. The new addition, known to the family’s two children as “the playhouse,” brings a dynamic element to their home: A bright, open room, topped with a cozy loft, is the new active hub for the kids and their friends. The interior, adorned with bold colors and fun décor, is a synthesis of sophistication and whimsy. 

“Since there was no yard for the kids to play in, we thought the addition would be that extra area for them. It works out well for both the parents and kids — separate areas connected by these lovely stairways,” Turin says.

Three enclosed stairways thread through the addition up to a new rooftop deck, where a brief outdoor landing was necessary to comply with state height regulations. With soaring ceilings with an intriguing geometrical space, due to the Mansard-style roof, the staircases provide a pleasant hike connecting old and new areas of the home. 

1) Sand-colored bamboo hardwoods surround the slate-gray porcelain tiles of the wet bar. Economical materials come together beautifully in this eclectic room to boost its aesthetic as well as serve a practicality. Resilient quartz countertops and glossy white cabinetry purchased from Lowe’s accommodate the homeowners’ budget and sense of style. A walk-in shower encompasses the entryway of the tight yet efficient bathroom, which also features a toilet and sink on the back wall. 

2) Turin and Gobran kept the new stairways compact and tight to contour to the cliffside. Shifting the staircase into the hill of the upper floor also created unique interior features. A quaint cubby, softly lit by lamplight, sits where the original outdoor stairs began — a thoughtful and chimerical detail pays homage and adds dimension to the space.

3) A spacious deck, set upon the addition’s rooftop, provides a desired indoor-outdoor component to the Manoa Valley home. The uninterrupted valley views and frequent chatter of forest birds draws the family to this comfortable outdoor space for early-morning coffee, after-school homework, and every sunset. Weather-resistant furniture and teak tile flooring from IKEA keep the deck low-maintenance and easy to clean. 

4) The hike from carport to house is shorter now. An eclectic mix of materials come together to establish a contemporary exterior and functional access with the new interior stairs, melding nicely with the family’s style and hopes for their home.


Categories: Architecture, Featured Homes, Interior Design