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  • Writer's pictureAshley Tapley

You Had Me at Aloha! Designing Vacation Rentals on the North Shore

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Just pinch me! I was invited by Gretchen Bach from Coldwell Banker to design several spaces on the North Shore of Oahu for her recently purchased 3 acre Hawaiian dream property. When we arrived from the mainland the land was being groomed so you could see the beauty of the mountains, the natural pond and all the trees and flowers on this jungly property. It is truly a magical spot.

Two of the six buildings were to be vacation rentals and they were in need of a paint color consultation, interior design, styling, and furnishings plus all the amenities that go into a vacation rental. One building was has an octagon shape and we named it the "Palm Palace". It has an open concept room that needed to comfortably sleep five. The only walls in the place hide the bathroom (can you say design challenge?!). The other vacation rental was the original home on the property and it was completely gutted- basically a shack. We added a room, a hallway, moved the front door, and updated two bathrooms and the kitchen. This cute vacation rental that sleeps 8 is called the "Sugar Shack".

Fun fact! The other properties on this land are named after plants that grow on the property or the island: Palm Palace, Papaya Palace, Sugar Shack, The Avocado House and the Coconut.

Back to the story... We landed and hit the ground running. Designing in Hawaii is a challenge compared to the mainland. Furnishings and decor are not as easily available so you have to either be creative or patient and we didn't have time for patience. We came to get a job done!

Luckily we came prepared and all five of our team packed 100 pounds of luggage each. We came with rugs, bedding, plates, family treasures from the island from years ago. You name it, we probably packed it. Vendors like Crate and Barrel, Wayfair, and Amazon ship to the island so we had loads of items pre-shipped. And of course, we shopped on the island at local furniture stores, Facebook Marketplace, Lowes, Home Depot, Coco's Trading Post and Target where we had a huge "Targasm" with a five person escort to help us to the truck. Getting a vacation rental painted, fully stocked and decorated in 7 days was a fantastical challenge, but so so fun!

I want to give a special shout out to Showlin from Studio Shaolin - a talented interior designer and stager located on Oahu. She helped us navigate designing on the island and even came down to the property so we could meet. Her efforts are so appreciated.

Palm Palace Before Photos: (click arrow on right for more before photos and layout)

It was so cool to have planned the space before we landed. What we did: We painted the beams with Greek Villa by Sherwin Williams, a creamy white paint (same as the walls) inside to make the space look larger. We updated the bathroom with new lighting, faucets, shower curtain and storage. We created basket lamps over the pendant lights to add texture and modernize the space. The kitchen was stocked with coffee pots, tea kettles, microwave, gold flatware, tropical dishes and more! We selected exterior paint colors that you find in nature around the property.

Palm Palace After Photos: (Click arrow on right for more photos )

This place is now an experience. Slumber in the jungle on a custom made adult size bunk bed, or dreamy day bed, and wake to the roosters. Enjoy the stunning tropical flowers and trees on the property. Do yoga by the Banyan Tree. Take a 90 second walk to a private beach. Get a massage on site. Famous surf at the Pipeline and Sunset Beach are only minutes away. Have a fancy diner or cocktail at Turtle Bay Resort only 5 minutes down the road. The cute town of Haleiwa is about a 15 minute drive. Enjoy locally painted art, which is for sale, in the property. Shop the merch bar for reef safe sunscreen, turkish beach towels, yummy snacks, local soaps, and honey plus more.

Photos by Ashley Tapley, Sarah Ford, and Lauren McGonagle

Stay tuned for more B&A photos of the Sugar Shack! Coming soon.

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