My families' glittery, ocean-y, Maui island shack, fit for a mermaid

By on Sep 18th

Did y'all know that my home-away-from-home is on Maui? My family owns a place there (I iz lucky) that we jokingly call "The Shack." It's the place that brought you the hemp lamp, and the carbana. Lemme show you around…

front door1The offbeat occupant: Megan (Empire or die!)

Other occupants: My parents

Approximate square footage: 650-1000 sq. feet

How many bedrooms? Two beds, one bath

Lives in: South Kihei, Maui

When did you move into this home? Three years ago

Let's start with the neighborhood. What's it like where you live? My parents' house, lovingly called "The Shack" due to the run-down state we originally found it in, happens to be situated is a fucking dream. South Kihei has a lot in common with where I live in West Hollywood — it rarely ever rains, it's always sunshine-y and blue skies, and it's a very walking-friendly 'hood.

shack

The sun setting on the beach that's walking distance from The Shack.

It's a walk up the road from a grocery store, and down the block from, what we call, "the barmuda triangle" — seven bars (one owned by a friend of ours!), a breakfast cafe, and a sushi joint in one little tourist-y outdoor mall area. It's also a short walk across one main road to the beach where we often stroll down the street with home-made cocktails in travel coffee mugs and watch the sunsets.

We also live on a cul-de-sac so it's always quiet, unless the neighbors are getting rowdy (which rarely happens). Just the sound of palm trees swaying in the breeze, and these amazing bird sounds.

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What makes your home offbeat? That guy I married and I actually found The Shack on our honeymoon. It was basically a run-down double wide-type trailer house with an attached ohana (what they call guest houses in Hawaii, and yes, Lilo and Stitch fans, it also means "family"). The walls were covered in graffiti, there were holes punched through almost all the doors, the carpet was disgusting… it was basically a run-down island shack and it just needed a major overhaul. So when my parents purchased it, Aaron and I came over to help fix it up. Then my mom decorated it like WHOA!

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Nothing was offbeat about the construct of the home — like I said, it's a small double-wide-style house on risers. I called it "the big beige box" after the renovations — beige exterior, beige walls, beige floors, beige tiles, beige ceilings — snooze fest. BUT once my mother started decorating, it turned into this glittery, girly, mermaid-inspired island home.

entrance6

We created an entrance space in the big box that is the living space by installing a floor medallion at the front door, and making a hallway feel between the couch and the dresser in the front.

Everywhere you look there's a handmade glittery touch, from picture frames and vases, to the collection of shells and sea glass held in glass dishes, to fake beaded flowers, and embellishments on seat cushions.

Don't you wish your home was glittery like me?

There's also a definite mermaid theme running through. It starts when you're greeted by a giant mermaid statue that collects all the (non-floral) leis we have acquired over the years, and then goes from there. See if you can pick out all the mermaids!

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The sofa, and most all of the furniture, was acquired from sales from hotels on the island. They're constantly updating and getting rid of old furniture. You can find great deals on hotel furniture.

living room6

I found that TV stand on Maui Craigslist and my mother had it painted to match the decor. That section of bamboo under the tv was a piece of our bamboo fencing that we placed there to hide all the cords!

funky light fixture

Speaking of hiding cords, that ball is a cool light fixture that we added, but since it has to be plugged into the wall, my mother created this bamboo/vase combo that hides the cord running up to the light. She's a cord-hiding ninja.

dining room3

The dining room right off the living space.

Living on an island means always having a space for your slippers to go once you walk in the door. It also means that a candle stick might also double as a sun hat holder.

What's the most challenging about this space? How do you deal with the challenge? The problem with this home is that no one lives in it full-time. I'm here a few weeks to a month (sometimes two!) at a time. Seriously… how lucky am I, y'all? And my parents live here seasonally — they're retired so they're either in Maui or near their grandkid in Texas. So every time we come and go we have to either do a full cleaning (rid our windows, furniture, and floors of the red dust) or we're locking down the home, covering up the cars and worrying about it while we're all on the mainland.

Owning a home on Maui instead of renting or hotels means you gotta give it a bath on Day 1. Sorry geckos, you're getting evicted from all crevices.

Owning a home on Maui instead of renting or hotels means you gotta give it a bath on Day 1. Sorry geckos, you're getting evicted from all crevices.

My mother has got cleaning down to a neurotic artform, the same way my father has about battening down the hatches, so to speak. It's become routine now to CLEAN OR LOCK UP ALL THE THINGS! But no matter what it's always a pain in the ass.

We even made sure that the kitchen backsplash was as glittery as possible with a high-shine sealing finish.

Living on an island presents another challenge. Here are my issues:

At my island office…

But my office is much nicer.

  • we can't bring our dogs with us
  • no Trader Joes
  • everything is more expensive
  • I love tourists for their contribution to our economy, but MAN are they dangerous on the roads (If you are lost or want to appreciate the scenery, I get it, but pull over! You're on vacation, you've got time.)
  • anytime you want something it either takes "6 to 8 weeks" OR you get "no deliveries to Hawaii (or Alaska)."
bedroom1

My parents' room.

g bedroom4

My room with me barely visible in the mirror.

What's your favorite feature of your home? My favorite feature is the backyard. Anytime I'm on Maui I like to spend as much time outdoors as possible. There's a big big lawn that makes me so sad that my dogs can't come over with me. And, of course, the awesome carport/cabana hybrid — the carbana.

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The side yard.

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The backyard, taken from the inside the carbana. The solar-powered lights are being charged in the middle of the yard there.

Maui — May 2010

Even the driveway is a nice place to hang out.

I also LOVE the bathroom. It was my favorite room to renovate. My mother and I found the best accent tile ever, and my dad found the coolest bathroom fixtures that look like bamboo! Plus a skylight addition means that you never have to turn on the light in the middle of the night: it's always just light enough to see from the light of the moon.

What's the most important lesson you've learned from this home? How very very VERY much I'd like to live full-time on Maui. The problem: that guy I married doesn't share this same goal anymore. Sigh. So it's part time for me.

What's your grandest plan for the space? We'd like to build up. My mom once climbed up on top of the roof and spied the ocean! Eventually, we'll get a second story which means ocean views, bitches! Also, a second bathroom would be nice.

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Our neighbor's home behind us looks kind of like how we'd like our second floor — big windows and a wrap around porch.

What advice do you have for other offbeat homies? Where are my island-dwelling Homies? Hawaii? Fiji? New Zealand? American Samoa? Offbeat Home doesn't have enough stories from you guys. I'd like to talk story about YOUR experience. What is YOUR best advice for other island folk? What do YOU find difficult about living on an island? SPILL!

Maui — May 2010

Also SPILL: have any of you attempted to build a floating picnic table, like these guys? Ah, the things you do when you live on an island.

Show me the decor porn!

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About Megan Finley

Megan Finley is the Associate Publisher for the Offbeat Empire. When she's not slaving away for the Empire, she's sharing her dork side on her own blog, Twitter @meganfinley, and Instagram @meggyfin.