Friday, April 17, 2015

Historic Restoration and Preservation Makawao


Historic Preservation is not for the faint of heart, or the light of pocketbook. If you are handy, or want to become handy then by all means, tempt fate and buy a 1924 house.  If you have gumption   and a soft spot for the old and forgotten, then roll the dice and look for a heritage home...or let one find you.

I wasn't looking when my house found me.
What originally tugged at my heart was the sadness I felt. It was an overwhelming emptiness, "where was the family, why let the ball drop on this beauty?"
  Reality has a different look now. Top to bottom restoration of a 5 bedroom home covered in vines on the island of Maui for a single mom on a paper thin budget would give me great pause at this point.

When "Under a Tuscan Sun" hit the big screen, I watched with tears rolling and laughing until my face hurt. The scene with the hot water steaming out of the toilet left me gasping for air. I knew that plumbing dilemma only too well as one of the ancient bathroom on the North side of the house was a plumber's mystery challenge. The hot water found a way into places it was not supposed to.  People appreciated that perk on cold mornings, but that is taking luxury  bit too far.

Twenty years later, I  have a pretty good  understanding of what is involved in buying and restoring these forgotten gracious beauties. 

Finding anything older than 1940 in Hawaii is very rare,  especially a home in it's original condition still standing. Termites are healthy here.
The last home I restored was a cute and airy 1939 Plantation home in Makawao.  My son and I worked on it together, sanding ,scraping ,painting and landscaping. We laughed, struggled and sweated, and it was a bonding experience that I will always cherish.

I have always been big on reuse, re-purpose and recycle before it became  popular. Saving antique bed rails to make picture frames ,and rescuing vintage stain glass windows is second nature to me.
The Cypress trees I had to remove  became flooring and trim for my home. Those wooden floors shine with a golden glow, offering a special softness under foot.

One of the most fulfilling experiences of this 20 year odyssey was the return of the original family for their family reunion. I had worked  hard in preparation for the event. Glimpsing  their experiences together, I could see the weekend was filled with love and excitement catching up and sharing memories in the old family home. 

My lofty goals have shifted and changed throughout the years. It started with saving the house from  demolition, then I thought it was about  honoring the history of the original family, then I hung on to building something lasting for my own family. As I sit in the Kona Wing this afternoon experiencing my own staycation in a quiet house,  I see that I have come to a place of simple observation and appreciation. 
With all it's quirks, flaws and unfinished restoration, the artist in me admires the elegant  lines, offset by formidable crown molding,  and plate rails. The 11 foot ceilings give me room to breathe and my dreams space to float. The irregular antique wavey glass windows make beautiful patterns on the walls as the afternoon sun shines. 
My senses are deeply satisfied as I contemplate true craftsmanship.

A 90 year old house is not too pushy in it's demands for preservation and restoration. It's patient  knowing that I do what I can. 
This summer I plan to take on the job of painting the outside of the house again. The shingles look thirsty and dry, it's one story,  so, I think," I can do this"... maybe I will see who wants to join in a painting party.

Any takers?

Aloha for now,
Hale Ho'okipa Inn Makawao

Friday, April 3, 2015

Orchids of Maui


Spring is in the air and this is the time of year  the Maui Orchid Society displays their award winning blooming plants for all to enjoy as part of the holiday weekend celebrations.

The members of the Maui Orchid Society are passionate about their plants. Their goal is to further  education, preservation and cultivation of orchids.
Whenever I visit one of their shows, I am impressed by the beauty of the blooms. Honestly however, the care, feeding and re-potting of  my orchids has not really every made it to my to-do list.
Although I  always enjoy orchids in my home,  I only know the names and types of a few of the more common varieties.  I've learned that orchids are much happier out in the yard  in the natural light and Hawaiian rain. Those living in the orchid house were feeling a bit neglected . 
Victoria, who has helped me here at Hale Ho'okipa for many years, is  knowledgeable about orchids and a member of the  Maui Orchid Society. 
Recently Victoria decided to give my orchids more of a chance to show off what they can do. She has scattered them around the yard, and they are obviously so much happier now. The plants that were moved to the front door of Hale Ho'okipa Inn have continued to bloom, welcoming arriving guests.
I noticed at the show today that several plants were not growing in soil, instead were suspended in open baskets hanging from lattice and screens. The nice grower I was chatting with, mentioned that this method of growing  is becoming more popular with great results. People will tuck them into the bark of large ferns or attach them to branches of tree trunks like air plants. They thrive in this manner as well. I just am not sure how to feed them if there is no soil. I'll have to ask Victoria how to feed these orchids with bare roots.

I am very happy that my orchids are blooming now with my appreciation and admiration, but not alot of needed attention.

May your spring be filled with fragrant and colorful blooms of all kinds.