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

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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.


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.

My sister @morgan__hicks and my niece Keeley

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.


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!

living room1

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.


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!

living room3 living room6 funky light fixture dining room3
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.
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.

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.

At my island office…

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

  • 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 g bedroom4

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.

outside3 Maui -- May 2010

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 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

Show me the decor porn!

Comments on My families’ glittery, ocean-y, Maui island shack, fit for a mermaid

  1. I live on an island but it is huge and probably doesn’t count in terms of the challenges of living on a small island. Summer time and the massive tourist influx is definitely a bitch and a blessing. We love the money coming in from all of the visitors but the ferry waits to get on and off the island SUCK during tourist season. We’re talking multiple ferry waits during tourist season, that means 2 hours+ for each ferry wait, and the campers and RV people that think they own the road, have provided many hours of cursing.
    The other side of that is that I love living here. I have tried main land life and it is not for me. As islands go it is massive, we have everything here we could need, I have been known to go two years at time without leaving.
    My husband and I will grab the first opportunity we have to move to one of many smaller islands off the coast of this island, as soon as we can figure out how to support ourselves on one of them. Main land people that move here joke about how they struggle to get used to island time, the smaller the island the slower island time is. I can’t wait to live on an even smaller island one day.
    P.S. I live on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, NOT Victoria Island as so many visiting Americans call it.

      • It is funny, hardly anyone is from the island. I have lived here most of my life and I only a handful of people that were born here. I have traveled a little and I have never found any place else that I like as much as the island.
        Good luck with your move and welcome to island life.

        • I’ve found that with Calgary too, I’ve lived here my whole life and the true “Calgarians” are few and far between. Everyone is from Saskatchewan. I think the whole country is slowly moving west.

          • As if there’s another Calgarian here and you’re moving! Just before the snow comes, too. (ps: obviously I’m not *from* here, hehh, I’m an Ontario girl. In all my classes new-Calgarians outnumber born-n-raised, it’s that sort of town)

  2. I love it! I’m really obsessed with mobile homes right now, and I love to see mobile home decor porn! 🙂

    Is it possible to add a second floor onto a mobile home that began life as a one-story? I’ve seen two-story mobile homes, but I assumed they were constructed somewhat differently in terms of load-bearing, etc.

          • I think Hawaii makes you quarantine them for 6 months. Might not be worth it. That’s why I was curious.

          • They used to make you quarantine them for several months over on Oahu, but now you can “quarantine” them at home — wait those several months before you fly, have a vet check to see they don’t have diseases, and then go from there. Cuts their time on Oahu down to days (maybe a week?). It’s easier now, but still a pain.

  3. Thank you for calling flip-flops slippers! Since I used to live in Hawaii (Kailua, Oahu) I always call them slippers and no one ever knows what I am referring too!

  4. I’ve been perusing this site for hours! I am absolutely in love with these Offbeat websites. Really great information, photos and sense of community.

    That said, I came upon this post and had to comment. I’m born, raised and still live on Oahu. Your home on Maui is so beautifully decorated! I would love to live in your house full-time myself!
    Being an island girl has its perks. The weather and views are like a dream. Blue sky almost every day. Fresh air (if there are no Kona winds blowing from the south, pushing in that vog [volcano fog]. Close to the beach and the mountains. The people are open and friendly for the most part. What more could you ask for?

    Well, it’s only when I travel away from Hawaii do I really appreciate its beauty and all that it offers. To me, it’s home. Growing up here, it was normal to head to the beach, go shopping, hang out with family and friends. As an adult, it’s a much harsher reality. It’s difficult to find a place to live on your own at a reasonable price, unless you have a medium to high-paying job.

    And speaking of jobs, because of the slow economy, it is extremely challenging to find full-time jobs with decent pay and benefits. Most people have 2 or 3 jobs at a time, just to make ends meet. I feel lucky to have one full-time job in my field of study.

    Living on an island is, I imagine, like living in a small town. Even though it’s impossible to know everyone, out of the 950,000 plus people that live just on Oahu, the crowd of people around you pretty much stays the same from high school. Unless you go to college elsewhere, you change jobs frequently, or you’re offbeat and adventurous (like me) and try to meet different people everywhere you go. People (friends, family, acquaintances or people you don’t even know) like to get into your business. That can get old very fast! When I go out, I will meet or see someone I know 7 out of 10 times! Maybe even more.

    So despite its beauty and slowness, living on Oahu is comparable to living in any other small town. There’s the city area (south) and the country area (north and west). East is where most of the “rich” people live in their multimillion dollar homes. (Not knocking them for being well-to-do; it’s just reality) We have a huge homeless problem. Some of them live in tents on the sidewalk in the city (in town, as we call it) and they have to move every so often when the police finally tell them to move. We also have upper and lower middle class in the suburbs. We have really wealthy people and terribly poor people and everyone in between.

    What makes Oahu a cool place to live is that we have such a wide array of people that come from a variety of ethnicities and backgrounds. We must have one of the highest percentages in the nation of the number of mixed race couples, children, and families. Therefore, not all is good and not all is bad either. I feel that I’ve only skimmed the surface of describing Oahu but to me, it’s home.

    • Yes! I can always tell if someone is from an island OR a small town if they glance around before they gossip with their buddies in a public place. (I call that the “island look around.”) Because odds are, someone who knows the person you’re talking shit about is within listening distance anytime and anywhere.

      Whereas big city dwellers in places like Los Angeles don’t worry about that for two reasons: 1. Odds are you don’t know ANYONE around you. 2. Even if you did no someone, they’re probably so wrapped up in their own shit they wouldn’t be listening in on you anyway. 😉

  5. I don’t know why I juuuust stumbled upon this article, but it makes me happy! As someone who was raised in Hawaii (technically not born, but my family has deep roots and we moved back when I was a baby), I always get a little excited when my state is mentioned, haha.

    In all seriousness, spot-on about some of the issues with isolation, long shipping times, and the like. That’s probably one of the biggest downsides. We just did a couple years on the mainland for school and getting used to that two-day Amazon Prime shipping was magical. Now it usually takes a week, which is still better than when I was a kid and we had to order from catalogs a full month or two before school started in order to get our back-to-school clothes in time. We also brought our cat back from the mainland, which was a nightmare of paperwork and quarantines – Hawaii is rabies-free, so all live animals that come here are subject to very strict testing and regulations in order to ensure that they aren’t potentially carrying rabies or other diseases that haven’t made their way to the islands. It’s worth it to do the advanced testing and vaccinations, though – our cat ended up having to do 10 days in quarantine because his blood test came back juuuust a bit too late, but it was WAY less of a hassle/expense than the 30+ days that used to be mandatory even for pets with vaccinations on record.

    Another tip, though – stuff is generally more expensive, but I’ve noticed that “frequent buyer”/”club membership” offers are everywhere. I think the goal is to take a bit of the edge off for locals, but whatever the reason, you can save a lot of money over the long term by saving those stamp cards and signing up for those reward programs. For folks who are concerned about privacy, a lot of them don’t really use your email or phone number unless you forget your card and want to enter your number for the points. I’ve known people to just make up a number/email address that they consistently use for these services, and as long as you remember it, nobody really cares if it’s real or fake. But honestly, the long-term savings are probably worth it.

    At any rate, I’m just glad that the 50th state is getting a little love, and I totally want to encourage other folks to visit here, or even come to live! We could always use a few more offbeat types, I think.

    • Oh man, Hawaii will ALWAYS get love on the Empire as long as I’m here. It’s my second home and my favorite place on the planet. I’m actually currently in Maui, at this very house right now.

      Also, HOW MUCH DOES IT SUCK that Amazon Prime stopped doing two day shipping here!??? That was the greatest thing for a while.

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