Hillside House No. 3

White walls, splashes of color, and vintage furniture are a winning recipe for this Hawaiian remodel.

With the help of salvaged materials and furniture, this Hawaiian home achieves what's often impossible: modern elegance but with a comfort that feels immediately worn-in and familiar. The secret sauce? Re-use. “If we couldn’t get a door or window from Re-Use Hawaii, we got it off of Craigslist—none were bought retail,” explains the architect, Fritz Johnson. The original house—a 60s “salt box” Oahu tract home—came with a charming midcentury facade that the homeowners wanted to preserve in the remodel. With an eye for classic, second-hand pieces, and a focus on the Dutch International Style, they teamed up with Johnson to create this cozy island residence.

Caroline Wallis uploaded Hillside House No. 3 through Add A Home.
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The original house was a single-story structure, not robust enough to carry a second floor. Fritz’s solution was to build an upper level that functions like a bridge, spanning the original structure without compromising it.

All-vinyl siding on the original shell was replaced with natural plywood T1-11 cladding. The second story features engineered brushbox wood plank, as well as Batu decking for the railing and lanai (a sheltered, open-sided patio).

Fritz explains, “The primary inspiration was Dutch International Style design. The clients have roots in Holland and it started out looking more De Stijl than it does now, but ultimately, they wanted something that drew as much from their present in Hawaii as their past in Europe.”

The dining room table is made from recycled teak railroad ties from Indonesia. The blue armchairs were a Craigslist purchase. IKEA pendant lights contrast nicely with the dark wood.

The existing partitions were tongue-and-groove redwood. To update the interior, each panel was painstakingly removed, refinished in a darker hue, and replaced. The centerpiece, a four-strand rattan couch, is complimented by other wooden pieces, like this original Cherner chair, also a Craigslist purchase.

To accommodate a second story, the ground-level had to be completely reconfigured in favor of a more open floor plan. A vintage 1930s Belgian desk acts as a versatile table for the downstairs.

The bathroom’s glass block partition is just one example of the extensive list of repurposed materials used for this project. The sinks are from IKEA and bathtub is from Home Depot.

Inspired by a Julius Schulman shot of the Los Angeles Case Study House, the upstairs seeks to embody a sense of expansiveness. Another second-hand piece, a red Gispen chair, is a classic 1930s Dutch piece bought by the homeowners from a flea market in Amsterdam.