Hawaii Home + Remodeling – October 2013
by NICOLE BOYNTON, Photos by MICHAEL TORRES
BORN AND RAISED IN A SLEEPY AREA OF KAILUA called Coconut Grove, homeowner Mignon Bertranou has an appreciation for simple yet charming homes. “I love the little plantation-cottage feel,” she says. So much that she became enthralled with this fi xer upper on Wilhelmina Rise with stratospheric views of Diamond Head. “I fell in love with it because it is so much like the tiny little house I grew up in, also built in the 1950s,” explains Bertranou.
Bertranou was attracted to the home’s vintage charm, and also the historic neighborhood itself, which was originally developed by the Matson Navigation Company in the 1930s, with streets named after its former ships — the Wilhelmina, Lurline, Mariposa and Monterey.
Happening upon a canvas of a Matson cruise ship at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet right after she purchased the home, which shows the ’50s-era romance and nostalgia symbolized by these passenger ships, Bertranou decided there was no need to reinvent the wheel: Her heart was set on keeping the integrity of the home intact and enhancing the vintage feel. Instead of destroying the old to build something bigger and bolder, Bertranou could see the existing home’s potential beyond the dilapidation.
“I came in saying, ‘tear it down,’” says Phil Barker of Barker Kappelle Construction LLC, who was hired to do the job. “But Mignon had a vision of keeping the original house. She was adamant that this was what she wanted so we ended up going with it.”
Like any older home, it needed major work, but the outside deck was the only part that needed to be built from scratch. “I wanted a place to sit outside, entertain and take advantage of the magnificent view,” says Bertranou. “Phil wanted the railing to have a design, but in the end we kept it simple to match the rest of the house.”
Bertranou was a hands-on homeowner during the entire remodel, from the demolition phase to sourcing materials. “Mignon did the entire demo on this project and that must be mentioned,” jokes Barker. “I came in here and it was completely stripped apart. She would have the sledgehammer swinging. It was perfect; she pulled it all down.
Although true to an extent, Barker Kappelle brought in the heavy machinery to knock down an illegal addition between the home and the garage that blocked the view from the kitchen window. “The window was there, but it opened up to the addition that we tore down,” Bertranou explains. Now, the garage is separate from the home and the kitchen has a
view of the landscaping as well as the new driveway by Harbor Concrete.
“The garage was a really rundown carport originally, so we just boarded the inside with the board and batten siding to give it that plantation look,” says Barker. “Now it’s one of my favorite features of the home.”
Taking down the addition also allowed Barker Kappelle to enhance the front entrance and give it a more welcoming feel. “The entire front entrance is new; the house had a fl at, blank front before,” says Bertranou. More curb appeal was added with concrete pavers leading up to the front
door and copper rain chains from Big Rock Hawaii.
“The front was all enclosed so we tore that down and pitched back in this new roofline and redid the posts. It’s a pretty minor detail, but it was really efective and gives a nice plantation-style entry. It pops out more and really adds to the house,” explains Barker.
The four-bedroom, two-bathroom home is split into two levels. Upstairs includes the main kitchen, the living room, three bedrooms and one bathroom. Downstairs there’s a smaller ohana-style kitchenette, living area, one bedroom and one bathroom. It would be the perfect rental, if needed. “My two young-adult sons have their hearts set on this for their bachelor pad,” Bertranou laughs.
“Part of the project was to try to keep as much of the original home as possible, so we had to work with the request,” explains Barker. “Trying to match the home’s original style, we had to replace a lot of tongue and groove (T&G) — refinishing and replacing the wood but keeping the same look.”
Barker Kappelle also updated all the electrical and plumbing, and ran a submeter downstairs so a washer and dryer could be added.
One great feature of the home is the original oak flooring. “There was wooden flooring throughout the upper level,” says Bertranou. “But we had no idea if it was restorable because the visible condition of it was pretty bad.