The Aloha House Kitchen Tour

Kitchen Done-1749

Hospitality and family and fellowship all come together in the kitchen. I’ve spent some of my happiest hours in our house in the kitchen, listening to Frank and Dino and Michael Buble, playing with recipes, figuring out troublesome ingredients and techniques, and dancing the strut and the continental in my socks or bare feet. All in our tiny little kitchen.

When we first moved back into our tiny little condo in Hawaii, it was…well, it was bad. It had been a rental for four years and when I first started renting it out, I didn’t know much about managing properties, and definitely not from a distance. I enlisted help from a friend who was a realtor on island who did property management as a side job, and he was able to keep it rented the whole time.

However…never, ever, ever let someone paint the walls an “interesting color” even if they promise to paint it back. Because if they don’t, if you already used all their security deposit on repairing the damage their dog did, even when your contract specifically said they couldn’t have a dog in the house, you have no recourse without going to small claims court. Even then, small claims court is expensive and likely won’t rule in your favor.

So you end up with…this.

Kitchen Before-5288Kitchen Before-5289

I snapped these two pictures in September 2013, when we moved into the house. I have no idea why there’s a weed-eater in the dining area, why all the walls are different colors, or just how many TVs the previous folks had {there were cables everywhere}.

The place was full of awful red walls, beaten up cheap appliances, and terrible lights. It feels awful to complain about this when we should be grateful every day to have a roof over our heads, solid walls, a place to make magical smells and sing, but…when you rent things to people, you would like to assume that they’re feeling some little bit of that gratitude, too, and won’t be hellbent on destroying your property or sticking you with all kinds of problems to fix once they’ve moved on to the next property.

We have always dreamed of having a gathering place, a place that feels like it fits the hospitality and the food we love to make, someplace clean and fresh and bright.

As my Aunt Shizu said, after saving for years and years but not wanting to spend it because that was her generation, after my parents and her friends talked her into upgrading her little house just a little, to provide comfort for her – and shelves she could actually reach rather than having my great uncle get things for her, “Money works good.” I love her, and the joy on her face when she realized what a renovation could do for her lifestyle still makes it a favorite family and favorite renovation story!

We used ours here and ripped out all the old stuff, smashed out all the old tile, pulled out all the old cabinets, and got to work making room for the beautiful custom cabinets our friends at Plus Interiors made for us. We were so excited to install the huge pantry cabinet and paint that godawful red wall in the back of the kitchen! And we threw in new appliances, new fixtures, new countertops, new hardware, and really made this place sing, I think.

Let me invite you in, pour you a glass, and serve you up a plate in our new completed kitchen!

KCS NoReservations-8849Kitchen Done-1737Untitled design-2Kitchen Done-1747Kitchen Done-1736Untitled design-3Kitchen Done-1751

When Scott and I put together our plan for the kitchen, we wanted something that would both fit our design styles and that would fit Hawaii.

Hawaiian design isn’t all dark koa wood and palm trees, as some of the resorts would have you think. There’s a distinctly seaside cottage-like style that permeates the mauka {up the mountain} area where we live that has all the beadboard and rustic touches you’d expect from a seaside cottage – except where you’d find white accents in East Coast cottages, there’s dark wood, dark trim, and warm rich tones here.

We paired the warm dark hand-scraped bamboo we’ve put throughout the house with bright white cabinets, shiny stainless steel appliances, and white subway tile, but the dark wood is reflected in the oiled bronze fixtures and frames, and we opted for a warm gray grout instead of white. We made the heavy open shelving ourselves out of 2×6″ boards we distressed and stained.

I know open shelving isn’t everybody’s bag, but I absolutely love them – they make the kitchen feel larger, where cabinets would have made it feel more crowded. And in a small kitchen, we need all the space we can get!

Kitchen Done-1749

Scott surprised me for our anniversary with the pictures hanging on the back wall – they’re black and white print versions of the photos I got during my adventure in Guy Savoy’s kitchen in Las Vegas, and an autographed souvenir photo and menu from the Hell’s Kitchen tasting menu at Gordon Ramsay Steak.

It means a huge amount to me to have some of my favorite kitchen memories right there.

Kitchen Done-1740Kitchen Done-1739

We carried on the feel into the dining room, adding a similar but unique drum lantern in place of the previous light and doing our best to create a bistro-like feel, Hawaii style, with our tall bistro table, rescued coffee and wine bar, and the coffee bags I recovered the chairs with. We made the shelves in the back ourselves and added hooks and a glass rack on the bottom to keep glasses and mugs close to hand.

I’m beyond happy at how everything has turned out in here!

The kitchen is supposed to be the heart of the home, and that’s how ours feels now – like a place we’d love to have you stop on by, pull up a stool, and enjoy some snacks and great conversation!


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  • You’re giving me intense kitchen envy! This is beautiful!

    • Thanks so much 😀 We’re SO happy with how it turned out – and that the orange-red walls are gone!