Hawaii, Oh!

Interiors Magazine

February / March 2011


Text by Saxon Henry / Photography by Matthew Millman


Predictability certainly has its place, but not in this retreat perched along the cliffs rising above Lanai’s ragged shoreline. It would have been so easy for interior designer Marion Philpotts to fill the home with watery hues like the ones leaking into each space from views that appear to go on forever, but she resisted that temptation. “I didn’t take the predictable path that many would have taken,” she explains, “instead I chose rich Japanese blues, pert reds and Ikat prints for pops of color.”
Philpotts worked with architect Shay Zak from the onset of the project, meeting his every minimalist move with an equally savvy show of aesthetic acuity. “Shay is a purist in the best sense,” remarks Philpotts. “He’s a master of proportion, and beautifully integrating every element is a true talent of his.” The designer credits Zak’s choices of materials for the grounded qualities of the home while the architect believes the open floor plan makes this residence feel so “at home” in its setting.
“My original design was more traditional in that it had a greater number of interior spaces,” he explains. “We simplified the design with a casual and open feel as we progressed because we wanted to create a very unfussy house.” Lanai is a remote island with a wild beauty that Zak was determined to celebrate. “Many of the doors are retractable, sliding away into pockets when they are open so that the house becomes one with its surroundings,” he says. “I set out to make it so simple that nothing would be jarring.”
Because of the marriage of the indoor and outdoor spaces was so important to the success of the home’s relationship with nature, the main outdoor room, an expansive lanai, takes center stage on the cliff-side of the property. “The lanai, which sits between the great room and the swimming pool, is the main outdoor living space,” Zak says. “The views across Manele Bay are so spectacular that we framed the view with the structure rather than interfering with it.”
The cleanly designed architecture that Philpotts had as a starting point allowed her to think outside the box when choosing furnishings. “This house is such a wonderful envelope of refinement and has such presence that even the time worn elements I chose – like the distressed screens in the bedrooms that I used as headboards – took on a feel of refinement.” The home is filled with such soulful choices, which Philpotts calls memory makers. “We brought in lots of Pan-Asian elements but the home still has a very Hawaiian sensibility,” she says. “That’s because Hawaii is a melting pot and we have permission to mix everything up here – from the magical and exotic to the tropical and timeless.”



Project Credits:

Architecture by Shay Zak, ZAK Architecture

Interior Design by Marion Philpotts-Miller, ASID, IIDA


View additional images of Island Retreat.