Online Exclusive - Lumeria, Maui, HawaiiNov 7, 2012
By Ashleigh VanHouten
Originally designed in 1909 by Honolulu architect H. L. Kerr, the restoration of the 26,000-square-foot complex (previously a convalescent home for retired plantation executives) offered no shortage of design challenges. “It would have been much easier to tear down the buildings and start over,” says Balbes. “The foundations, the structure, all had to be rebuilt while working around all of the small pieces that were able to stay.” The aesthetic of the restoration calls to mind Craftsman style, embellished with a mix of “neoclassical and vernacular Japanese details.”
Colors, textures, and materials throughout the retreat are inspired by the light and plant life on the property, and “listening to what color the building wanted to be.” The lobby, for instance, mimics the colors of the rainbows that arch over the property almost daily. Borrowing furnishings and artwork from around the world—Morocco, Indonesia, England, France, Japan, China, the United States, and Poland, to name a few—the 24 guestrooms and suites feature hardwood floors and Japanese tansu cabinetry, and some come equipped with Indonesian-style daybeds and plantation-style desks and chairs. Bathrooms boast walk-in Japanese-designed showers with rain showerheads and river rock shower floors.
As much of Balbes’ long and storied career focused on high-end, single family residences for private clients, he says the design process for Lumeria was a unique challenge. “Welcoming in guests and not truly understanding each of their particular needs for space, I had to design from a perspective that balanced the receiving of the public with a desire for them to experience this retreat, in some ways, like their second home.”