At Home in the Islands
Graham Nash builds Our House on Hanalei Bay
Our House is a very, very, very nice house on Hanalei Bay on the northern shore of Kaua`i. It was designed with the humor and attention to detail that characterizes Graham and Susan Nash who cherish turn-of-the-century Hawaiian architecture and Hawaiian collectables through the 1950s.
Our House, named for the famous Crosby, Stills & Nash song, is owned by Susan and her husband Graham, the talented musician and photographer. The Nashes conceived of Our House, after studying older homes on the beautiful crescent of Hanalei Bay. They liked the location with Hanalei's long, broad beach, its calm summer waters for snorkeling, sailing and kayaking, and its exciting winter surf.
The couple also appreciated traditional home construction with high ceilings, wainscoting, large lana`i and the use of wood. They decided to create Our House in a style harmonious with existing Hanalei beach estates but updated with understanding of air flow, the effects of saltwater on buildings, and the strength of construction needed to resist occasional hurricanes.
The Nashes made a study of these subjects before construction and came up with a sturdy house incredibly resistant to the elements, with very thick walls, covered end beams, and many coats of marine paint. To further protect the home and its gardens from salt, Graham Nash, himself, planted a 20-foot barrier of ironwood trees between the house and beach and keeps it trimmed like a box hedge in an old English garden. They also built an outdoor shower for rinsing off after beachgoing.
For comfort within, the Nashes created transoms over the bedroom doors for a cooling air flow through the house on summer days, and they built wide-planked floors with a soft finish that invites you to walk in without shoes.
Having managed the basics of the building with the creative genius of John Morrall and Bill Long, they fitted Our House as a vacation home with playful decor creating warmth, the kind you feel before the red glow of a family hearth. The red hearth in Our House is a 1950s crimson gas kitchen stove, one of 4,000 made by O'Keefe & Merritt for Christmas displays across the country more than a third of a century ago. The red glow also comes from the Hanalei sunset, which you can soak in from your resting place in the very large contoured bath tub with a view, or from a couch on a back lana`i, or from the beach just steps away.
Drenched in the warm sunset lighting, Hawaiian collectables throughout Our House seem to come alive with their tropical colors. Many of them are electrified or spotlighted as objects d'art. Hawaiian pennants and shells decorate a coffee table under glass. Tassels on the hand-painted Hawaiian silk pillow slips shine from the walls where they are framed and preserved behind glass. An assortment of hula dancer dolls seems to undulate in the living room filled with musical instruments. Aside from one of Graham Nash's own guitars and an old Supertone model, there are `ukuleles, some of them capable of playable tones and others of the plastic tourist trinket type, including one featuring a painting of Diamond Head. Another comes from Hilo Hattie and a third is a Kamaka `ukulele, still popular among residents and visitors to Hawai`i today.
Prints and original paintings on the walls of Our House include de Jonge flowers, Guild anthuriums, Turner birds, and paintings by such tropical artists as Mund, Frank Oda, Shirell Graves, Murret Hoff, and R. Lawson. Many have been reproduced by Graham's own state-of-the-art printing enterprise called Nash Editions.
Carved lamps depict men and women swimmers, beckoning towards an upstairs bedroom window onto Hanalei Bay where mile-long swims, surfing, kayaking and sailing are favorite activities of residents. From Our House, you can take in all of this- it is the only house with a complete view of Hanalei Bay.
Even the laundry room has an ocean theme, with starfish on the ceiling, porcelain fish on the walls, and a floor of sand. Yet another room takes you in to the world of mermaids. What is perhaps most wonderful about the Our House Hawaiiana collection is that it is touchable and usable as if this were a hands-on museum. And it seems safe. Far from being cluttered, Our House is so spacious that there is plenty of room to stroll and look, and touch, and enjoy. Real McCoy pineapple cookie jars and collectible dishes, including an old Trader Vics XXX rum bowl. are provided for the use of guests. Outside, 500-lb. dolphins, cast in some of the original artistic resin work of the 1950s, light up from within, inviting children and adults to ride them, as they were ridden in their original home of Pacific Ocean Park merry-go-round in Venice, Calif. If you make an evening party around the dolphins, you can turn on the outdoor Christmas lights that Susan keeps up all year.
For a quiet vacation in a town that doesn't bother rock stars, actors or famous politicians, Our House provides a retreat with the convenience of adjacent Hanalei village dining, shopping and water activities.
Our House has been a favorite sand castle playground for the Nashs' celebrity friends who frequent Hanalei for relaxation and fun. The Nashs also offer the four bedrooms and three-and a half baths that comprise Our House, and the smaller Tree House on their property, to non-smoking visitors as a weekly vacation rental through Hanalei North Shore Properties. Call 808-826-9622. Fax 826-1188 or 1-800-488-3336 or write: P.O. Box 607, Hanalei, Hi. 96714.