They turned the ‘ugliest dilapidated condo’ into a Hawaiian dream


When Nicole Hollis and Lewis Heathcote began making regular trips to Hawaii ten years ago, their visits invariably mixed business with pleasure. The married couple, who run NicoleHollis, a San Francisco-based interior design firm where Ms. Hollis is the Creative Director and Mr. Heathcote is the Managing Director, were looking to get out of the Bay Area.

“We were starting to hear more and more of our customers say, ‘Yeah, we’re building, or we’re buying, or we’re spending time in Hawaii,’ said Heathcote, 46. years ago we had a real intention to spend time here.

“We spent our honeymoon here,” added Ms. Hollis, 49. “But we also wanted to work here.”

Their numerous visits over the years have helped them establish a network of professional contacts and demonstrate that they are serious about working in the region. The couple’s business has since designed many private homes in Hawaii and is currently working on 1 Hotel Hanalei Bay and Kona Village, a Rosewood resort.

Along the way, they fell in love with the islands for more personal reasons. “If you’re from the east coast, like Nicole, or if you’re from Europe, it’s so supernatural,” said Mr Heathcote, who was born and raised in England.

As business trips became more and more extended family trips with their children – Poppy, now 10, and Beckett, 7 – the couple decided it was time to buy a vacation home in Hawaii.

When they started hunting around Kailua-Kona on the Big Island in 2019, they knew exactly what they wanted. “We just started looking for the ugliest run down condo we could find because we knew we would like to renovate it,” Ms. Hollis said.

They found it at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai: a three-bedroom, 2,800-square-foot condo with a series of verandas that hadn’t been altered since it was built about 20 years earlier.

“It was super dated,” Ms. Hollis said, with creamy carpeting, golden slate and orange wood paneling, plus cabinets and built-in units set on diagonals that formed awkward corners. “It was all angles of the ’90s.”

After buying the house for $ 1.9 million in April, they gutted it, seeing little they wanted to keep beyond the vaulted cedar panel ceilings, which they refurbished, and of interior-exterior flow. “We were the first here, in one of these condos, to really stick to the nails,” said Heathcote.

Instead of the cream and orange color palette, Ms. Hollis developed a high contrast palette of light and dark gray, as well as bleached and blackened woods. “I wanted something calm and relaxed, not a lot of decoration,” she said. “A lot of these places have tons of tile and a lot of accents, decorations and sconces. We kind of took it all out.

Aiming to play on the textures of various materials, she added bleached and reclaimed teak flooring, light white oak doors, and warm gray lime plaster on the walls. Then she brought furniture with a natural and simple appeal. The large room is furnished with a low sectional sofa upholstered in Belgian linen from Restoration Hardware, a blackened oak Beam coffee table by Marlieke Van Rossum, vintage French rattan armchairs and a hand-woven jute rug. by Mark Nelson Designs.

Artistic light fixtures, including a Planck pendant light by Jérôme Pereira with a carved oak frame suspended above the dining table and free-form pendant lights by Rogan Gregory above the nightstands in the master bedroom, add a touch. visual.

The couple’s contractor, Dowbuilt, began construction shortly after Ms Hollis and Mr Heathcote closed on the property, and made rapid strides in bringing Ms Hollis’ vision to life – until the pandemic strikes, at which point the project stopped.

Last July, wanting to push the renovation beyond the finish line, the couple flew to the island with their children, quarantined themselves and then personally supervised the final stages of the work, which total cost about $ 1.2 million. Their intention was to move into the apartment for a short vacation before returning to San Francisco.

“We had planned to return home in August,” Ms. Hollis said. “And then we changed our mind and said, ‘Let’s stay. The school is not open. What’s the point of going back there? ‘ “

Over the next few months, they continued to plan new departure dates, to change their minds. “We were like, ‘OK, we’ll be back for Christmas,’” Ms. Hollis said. “Then we didn’t go back for Christmas. “

It wasn’t until April of this year that they finally returned to San Francisco. But after their long experience of island life, they now plan to return as often as possible.

“If you’re lucky enough to buy a second home, you always have that melancholy kind of thing where you say, ‘Can you imagine a time when we could live there full time? “, Said Mr Heathcote.

After doing just that, Ms. Hollis summed up the experience succinctly: “It was magical.”

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