Thank you for stopping by!  I hope to feature both real estate and lifestyle information regarding living on this wonderful island, and particularly on the Windward Side.  

The towns of Kailua, Kaneohe and Waimanalo all have their own personalities.  Hopefully, you get a chance immerse yourself in all they have to offer! 

There is so much to do, see and experience!  My hope to to give you a little taste here.  Please read on...

Thank you ~ Jill

Feb. 20, 2019

Lighting Up the Night: Choosing the Best Exterior Lighting

Illuminate grilling area

Choosing the right exterior lighting is an integral part of making the most of year-round al fresco living after dark. Rick Benedict, owner of Beachside Lighting in Kailua, discussed how to choose the best lighting for aesthetics, safety, energy-savings, and our ocean side climate.



According to Benedict, the most important rule in regard to outdoor lighting aesthetics is ensuring the fixtures are as unobtrusive as possible. Beachside Lighting achieves that look by using smaller size luminaires and minimizing glare.

Benedict describes Beachside Lighting’s technique as the “opposite of putting a powerful floodlight on the corner of your garage and then blasting your yard.”

“Focusing on small scale fixtures allows the landscape architect or contractor to highlight certain areas of the landscape for functionality, safety and aesthetics,” Benedict said. “We want them to blend into the landscape so that they don’t stick out like a sore thumb during the day but still do their job at night.”

This includes strategic placement, so one is able to navigate on a path or steps but is not in danger of tripping.

In regard to style, some clients prefer a flat light with a more modern appearance, and some prefer a more rounded style that does protrude slightly from the ground, creating a more tropical look, according to Alika Peterson of A & K Landscaping in Kailua and Hawaii Kai. Path lights are usually above the ground on 16-inch stems so that they clear the ground cover, he said.

Tree light

Energy Savings

Beachside Lighting exclusively uses LED lighting, Benedict said. There are many advantages to LED lights. LED lights are brighter and don’t get hot enough to burn plants as halogen lights can, Peterson said. Most importantly, LED lights use much less energy.

“It is very valuable to use LED in a place like Hawaii where we have very high electricity rates,” Benedict said. “On the mainland in a place like the Midwest, energy might be 10 cents a kilowatt hour but here it is 30 cents a kilowatt hour, so the energy efficiency made available by LEDs makes a bigger impact.”

Switching from incandescent sources to LEDs is enabling clients to pay one fifth to one sixth as much money as they did previously, he said.

“Pretty soon, no one is going to be talking about the old days and halogen,” Benedict added.


Rust Resistance

Here in Hawaii, landscape lighting must be made of heavy-duty materials that can withstand our region’s salt air.

Beachside Lighting uses fixtures made of unfinished brass with stainless steel fasteners. Brass develops a patina over time, but does not rust.

“The copper within the brass alloy will change color and age it as it reacts with the elements,” Benedict said. Here, it starts off with a more reddish color and then takes on a greenish hue.

The look of a natural, aged brass is particularly suitable in a tropical garden.

Clients that prefer a more contemporary look sometimes choose a silver or power-coated black finish, but those are subject to fading in the sun, Peterson said.


Limited Budget, Big impact

If you were to choose one impactful lighting element to add some drama to your garden, Benedict suggests adding a fixture to a tree that shines down to the ground, so you are creating illumination without seeing its origin.

Contractors can or strap this type of fixture to a tree, depending on the type of tree.

“By having it in a tree instead of along a path, you basically eliminate the likelihood that it’s going to get kicked around or damaged,” Benedict said.

Three techniques allow proper glare reduction with downlighting. The first is placing the light perpendicular - rather than parallel - to the ground to reduce glare. The second is to add a glare shield or snoot to the fixture to help shield light from the side. The third technique is use of a hexcell louver (also nicknamed “honeycomb” louver underneath the fixture’s glass), which creates several vertical sections, typically 1/8” thick, which the light has to exit through.

“With glare reduction or elimination, you have to guess where the light source is located, and that is a good thing!” Benedict said.

So, once you get your tropical landscaping projects completed (Tropical Gardening Blog Post), be sure to add beautiful exterior lighting.


Photos courtesy of Beachside Lighting 

Photo 1:  A switch controls a tree-mounted downlight to illuminate the BBQ when cooking, while well lights provide continuous backlighting of the foliage.

Photo 2: A tree mounted downlight. 

Feb. 13, 2019

Beautify your Property with Lush Tropical Gardening

Guzmania plantPlanning and Adorning Your Tropical Garden with Lush Greens and Brightly-Colored Flowers

One of the greatest joys of living in Hawaii is the ability to have a lush, tropical landscape in your own backyard. Planning and tending to a tropical garden in our warm, humid climate is not difficult. Here are some easy guidelines for your tropical, Hawaiian garden.

To create that jungle-like environment of a true tropical garden, you’ll want to use a rich mix of textures; dense, large-leafed plants; and, vibrantly-colored flowers. Be sure to plant in soil that is rich in organic matter to help hold moisture in the soil. Add additional organic materials, such as fertilizer, if necessary.

In order to create an abundant appearance, think vertical layers; a canopy of trees, a layer of shrubs and perennials and a final tier of low plants and ground cover.    

The best way to nurture your tropical garden can depend on which microclimate you live in, according to Paul Okuhara of Koolau Farmers Plant Nursery in Kailua. For example, here on or Windward side, in the Keolu Hills area where soil has large amounts of clay in it, it is best to add chicken manure or another soil conditioner. Okuhara recommends Menehune Magic Soil Conditioning.

In wetter areas, such as Maunawili or Kaneohe, it is beneficial to add cinders for drainage so that roots don’t rot. If you live closer to the beach, you’ll need to remove sand and add soil and manure, Okuhara said.

There are many flowering plants that work well in tropical gardens, according to Okuhara. For sunny spots, he recommends gardenias; mountain orchids, which are available in a variety of rich colors; vincas; New Guinea impatiens; and marigolds. For shadier areas, he suggests mondo grass, which is not flowering; guzmania, a type of bromeliad; and palms.


The University of Hawai’i at Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Cooperative Extension Service is a great resource for the best native plants (both edible and non-edible) to start or add to your garden.

Favorites for landscaping include:

Koai’a (a smaller version of the familiar Koa tree)

Kou (a medium-sized tree)

‘A’ali’I (small tree)

Nanu (fragrant flowering plant with white flowers)

Ma’o Hao Hele (ground cover with yellow flowers with a dark purple center)

Ohi ‘A Lehua (dark red-flowered tree)

Naio (fast-growing shrub or small tree  - ok in wet area)

Pritchardia Martii (small palm)

Hawaiian Soapberry (tree)

Beach Naupaka (hedge, filler, groundcover)

For more info on vegetables to grow in Hawaii, go to

For herb gardens, Okuhara recommends creating a raised bed. There are endless possibilities of herb choice, such as basil, Chinese parsley, rosemary, spearmint, thyme, lemongrass, and cat grass (to aid your feline friend’s digestion).


For accessories, browse through Geobunga, which has stores in Waimanalo and Honolulu. The store’s web site ( includes an inspirational gallery and a blog with ideas. Geobunga sells an array of choices such as decorative rocks and gravel, beautiful pots, stone Buddha statues and delicate water features to add ambiance and style.

Now, it’s time to get planting!


All photos taken at Koolau Farmers Plant Nursery with permission: 

A guzmania plant, which grows best in shaded areas

2. Flower varieties that thrive in sunshine

3. Rows of herbs

Feb. 6, 2019

Aloha, Spot! Moving Your Pet to Hawaii

Aloha Spot

Moving house is stressful for anyone - moving with a beloved four-legged family member has its own added worries. And, moving with a pet to Hawaii is even more complicated! If you take some time to prepare your pet, and plan ahead, your move to Hawaii will be as seamless as possible.

Preparing your pet

Some cats and dogs become anxious when their home is being packed up. To minimize a cat’s distress, keep them in one room until the end of the packing process. For dogs, ask an understanding friend to take your dog to their home for a visit while the packing process takes place.

If your pet has not spent much time in a crate (ever OR recently), be sure they spend some quality time in a crate for weeks ahead of your trip to get acclimated or re-acclimated. Begin by putting their food in the crate with the door open and then eventually close the door while they eat.  You can also try carrying your pet around in the crate in the house, taking short car trips with them in the crate, or incorporating it into playtime, by throwing a ball into an open-doored crate during a game of fetch.

Hawaii Regulations

There is a very good reason that the state of Hawaii adheres to such strict requirements regarding moving a pet to the island chain: Hawaii is the only rabies-free state in the United States! So the state enforces these rigorous laws in order to keep its residents, visitors and pets from being exposed to this dangerous disease.

The state released updated requirements on Aug. 31, 2018, which allows a shorter waiting period than previously required to travel with your pet after completing a FAVN rabies antibody blood test.

A very detailed list of the instructions for the direct release and five day or less program can be found here: Checklist. Be sure to read them in entirety.

*** Any pet which qualifies for the five day or less program also qualifies for direct airport release.

** Please note, these guidelines are specific to the island of Oahu - if you are flying with your pet to Kona, Kahului, or Lihue airports, you’ll need a neighbor island inspection permit, which will be an additional cost.

Here are the basics to give you an understanding of the process:

Step 1 Planning

·         Meet all requirements on checklist INCLUDING ensuring all required documents are received by the Animal Quarantine Station (AQS) 10 days or more before the intends date of arrival for Direct Airport Release (DAR) in Honolulu.

Step 2 Microchip

·        Your dog or cat must have an electronic microchip implanted BEFORE the FAVN test is performed. Ask your vet to scan your pet’s microchip to ensure it is working.

Step 3 Rabies Vaccination

·        Your dog or cat must have had at least two rabies vaccinations in its lifetime. There are specific requirements as to the interval between the vaccinations and the documentation you must provide regarding the vaccines administration.

Step 4 FAVN Rabies Antibody Test

·         Have your pet tested for FAVN rabies antibodies and have the test sent to an approved lab.(approved lab list on Checklist)

*** after ample time has elapsed, you can go to this web site to search on your pet’s microchip number to be sure your pet’s FAVN test results have been received:

Step 5 Waiting Period

And this is why you MUST plan ahead!

·        To qualify for direct airport release or the 5 day or less program, you must wait at least 30 days following a successful FAVN test result before arriving with your pet in Hawaii. If you arrive before the 30 days have elapsed, your pet will be subject to quarantine on the island.

Step 6 Completed Dog and Cat Import Form  

·         The AQS-279 import form can be found on

·         Original certificates for two rabies vaccinations

·        An original health certificate drafted within 14 days of arriving in Hawaii including information regarding tick treatment which was administered within 14 days of arrival. You will be able to carry the health certificate with you and submit it upon arrival

** specific information that MUST be included on these forms can be found on

Step 7 Submitting Documents by mail beforehand

·        Send documents (with return receipt to verify delivery) so they are received more than 10 days before arrival in Honolulu. 

·        These are the documents you will need to submit beforehand:  Dog and Cat Import Form, a cashier’s check or money order for $244 for 5 day or less program or for $185 for direct airport release that includes your pet’s microchip number.

·        Retain copies as backup. 

When you arrive at the Airport

Dogs and cats arriving in Honolulu are taken by airline personnel to the Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility. At this facility, the staff takes pets out of their carriers and places them in indoor kennels with fresh water.

The airport holding facility has specific hours for pickup so be sure to schedule a flight that lands when the facility is open.  To avoid an overnight stay for your pet, be sure to check with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture regarding pickup times.

Which Airline?

Despite some issues in recent years, United PetSafe is still one of the easiest ways to fly your dog to Hawaii. Last year, the airline released new, more stringent guidelines for the type of dogs and cats it will transport. Out of concern for adverse health effects, it will no longer transport any snub-nosed or strong jawed dogs or cats. Check the web site for detailed guidelines and restrictions.

There are also private companies, such as Island Pet Movers, which will conduct all arrangements and physically fly your pet. Island Pet Movers, which is veteran-owned and operated, can send your pet before or after you leave or arrive. They will bring your pet to your chosen boarding facility and deliver him/her right to your door.

Military members who are on PCS orders can bring their pets on military space-A flights. There are only a few spots available per mission so you must request a pet reservation as soon as you have PCS orders.


United petsafe

Jan. 30, 2019

Natural Wood Furnishings and Accessories for Your Home

Wood Table

The outdoor lifestyle on the Windward side of O’ahu lends itself beautifully to natural elements in decor, especially natural wood furniture and accessories. Locally, there are many places to purchase custom, natural wood furniture, accessories and distinctive imported wood pieces.

Waimanalo resident, Kini Ziegner, has been creating natural wood furniture for more than 40 years and started his business, Woodworking Hawaii, in 2008.

Building is second nature to Ziegner, who grew up watching both his father and grandfather build furniture, swimming pools and even homes.

To create his one-of-a-kind pieces, Ziegner uses a variety of local woods, including mango, mahogany and koa. Monkeypod is his favorite for its termite-resistance, affordability, stability and its wide variety of hues.

All of the wood that Ziegner uses comes from construction sites cleared for homes, commercial businesses or roads, much of which would have previously been used to make mulch.

“What I like is the conceptualization, acquiring the raw materials and using what I have at hand - what’s local and affordable – and making a product out of it that is aesthetically and structurally pleasing and is going to last for generations,” Ziegner said.

Rather than using electricity and drying the wood with a kiln, Ziegner uses a process called “stickering” in which he places a broomstick between slabs of wood so that air flows between them and allows for natural air-drying. Drying the wood slowly through this process means it is less apt to crack. This preparation process takes six months to one year depending on the thickness of the wood.

Once the wood is ready for building, the time it takes to create one piece varies, starting at about two weeks for a simple table, but Ziegner and his staff of ten are able to produce many pieces at one time.

Ziegner can build just about any type of furniture for your home, canoe paddles, and even smaller accessories such as jewelry boxes.

One of Ziegner’s favorite customization techniques and a trademark of his work is to add sea shells and colored glass so the table resembles the shoreline. This particular style has proved especially popular with military aviator clients who want to replicate the coastline as they see it from the air. It’s also a way to involve the younger family members in the creation of custom furniture, as they can choose their favorite shells for inclusion in the piece, Ziegner said.


Woodworking Hawaii – Custom Hawaiian Hardwood Furniture

41-625 Kaulukanu Street, Waimanalo, HI 96795

More Great Local Resources for Natural Wood Furniture and Accessories: 

Island Treasures - Island art and natural wood accessories made by local artists

629 Kailua Road #102

Kailua, HI 96734

Wood paddle

Red Bamboo - Handpicked painted and natural wood furniture imported from Bali, clothing and home accessories

602 Kailua Rd # 101

Kailua, HI 96734

Wood bowl 

Rust and Root – Custom, Hawaiian Hardwood Furniture

 41-829 Kakaina Street,

Waimanalo, HI, 96795


Bali Boo Furniture – Handpicked, imported Indonesian furniture and décor

The Koa Room - Handcarved Koa furniture made by craftsmen located here on- island and from Indonesia

201 Kapaa Quarry Pl Ste 401

Kailua, Hi 96734




Photo 1: Monkeypod table with resin inlay by Kini Ziegner of Woodworking Hawaii (courtesy of Woodworking Hawaii)
Photo 2: Cutting Board from Island Treasures
Photo 3: Bowl from Red Bamboo 

Jan. 23, 2019

“Tuxedo” Decor, Moody Colors and Concrete

Lotus bedroom

2019 Design Trends and How to Make them Work

Home design trends come and go as quickly as Windward rain showers.  As a homeowner, how can you incorporate the latest styles while remaining true to your own aesthetic? And what are some ways to integrate these up-to-the minute looks into our unique coastal environment?

Misty Kuo from Kailua-based Lotus Home Staging and Redesign weighed in on the latest trends and how to make them work in your home.

New and Now

On the color scene, black and white or “tuxedo” décor as well as darker, moodier shades like navy or forest green, are up and coming, according to Kuo, who co-owns Lotus Home Staging and Redesign with Kris Grimsley.

Surprisingly, there are some ways to successfully include those colors in our sunny environment!

Kuo suggests framed black and white photos and a black and white striped rug to complete the look.

“Palm trees always look good in black and white,” she added. “And darker, moodier colors are great here because we always have the sunshine. You can also mix in the darker colors with a wall paper with bright accents.”

Wallpaper is continuing its resurgence. Large florals - which are especially popular - lend themselves to the tropics.

 “Just remember to not overwhelm a space,” Kuo said. “Use wallpaper on an accent wall, bathroom or kitchen instead of all over. Balance is always the key in good design.”

In bathrooms, freestanding tubs are still seeing a resurgence, and in the kitchen, backsplashes that go all the way from the counter to the ceiling are of the moment.

“We love this because it creates a seamless flow,” Kuo said. “It tricks the eye into making the surface area look greater.”

Concrete furniture is also all the rage for 2019.

“You don’t have to go all out,” Kuo said. “But a few items, such as an end table or a bowl as a centerpiece, can add a bit of concrete without overwhelming the space.”

While “beach chic” is always fashionable, Kuo said, you don’t have to be too literal.

Lotus Home Staging and Redesign favors adding a “twist” such as a classic accent or antiques.

Think of a tertiary color to add with blues and grays, such as corals, pinks or even yellows to brighten things up,” Kuo said.

Lotus living area

Bringing the outside in

Aloha ‘Aina or “love of the land” is a part of life here in the islands. So it’s no surprise that bringing the outside in is one of the best ways to add that tropical vibe. Think greenery, natural wood, or even cement.

For a simple way to add a natural element, Kuo suggests filling a glass vase with water and then adding a clipping of monstera leaves, (which can last for months) or palm fronds.

If you think you have a green thumb, try live plants in a great pot. Luscious green plants are another way to integrate those darker colors, Kuo said, but be sure to speak to your local nursery to find out which plants work best indoors.

For wood accents, try a wooden bowl or a wooden pendant light over a kitchen table or an island.

Rust and other foes

Our humid climate and salty air can ravage many belongings, but even metals and leathers can work here and Lotus Home Staging and Redesign does use them.

Some homeowners prefer slipcovers that can be removed and washed, but some prefer leather which can be wiped clean, Kuo said.

Metals do rust, but some - such as galvanized steel - will corrode much more slowly.

And brass and copper weather, but won’t rust, Kuo said.

Stay true to your aesthetic

No matter what is trending now, your personal style should always come first.

 “You may hear that gray is out or white is out, but we love those colors because they are cool feeling colors that work well with our warm environment,” Kuo said. “We always tell our clients that the decor that makes them happy is always on trend!


Photos: Courtesy of Lotus Home Staging and Redesign

1. Lotus Home Staging and Redesign chose sage greens for a twist, which gave the room a soothing spa feel.

2. In this home, they worked with the homeowner to bring in cool tones to offset the dark wood.  Modern lights highlight a piece of antique artwork, and leather dining seating in grey is an elegant way to add in a touch of modern. 

Jan. 16, 2019

How to keep your appliances Shiny and Rust-Free, Plus When to Repair or Replace

Stainless appliances

Durable, reliable appliances don’t just make a homeowner’s life easier. They also increase the resale value of your home.

So how do you know if you should repair or bite the bullet and replace? And how do you counter the extra wear and tear that can negatively impact appliance longevity in our tropical climate?


Average life of appliances

Here are average lifespans for many of your home’s major appliances, according to

         Washing machine: 5 to 15 years

         Dryer: 13 years

         Refrigerator: 9 to 13 years

         Range: 10 to 18 years

         Dishwasher: 9 years

         Microwave: 9 years


Repair or Replace?

If one of your major appliances breaks, how do you know when it is cost effective to repair and when is it smarter to replace?

It is important to keep in mind that average life span is just an average - some appliances will last longer and some will fail sooner. According to Lowe’s, if the appliance won’t turn on at all, or if you’re continuously having the same part fixed, it may be time for a replacement.

Here are some guidelines for when to repair and when to replace, according to Consumer Reports based on the age of the appliance:

*     Washing machine: repair at 5-7, replace at 8

*     Dryer: repair at 5-7 years, replace at 8 years

*     Refrigerator (built-in or side by side): repair at 6-8, replace after 8 years

*     Refrigerator (top freezer): repair at 5-7, replace at 8

*     Range (Gas): repair at 4-5, replace at 6-8

*     Range (Electric): report at 3-4, replace at 5-8

*     Dishwasher: repair at 4-5 years, replace at 6-8 years

*     Microwave: repair at 3-4 years, replace at 5-8 years


That sea air….

Our beautiful coastal climate affords us windward breezes and year-round beach weather. But being near the ocean also means there is more water and salt in the air. Salt itself does not cause rusting but it does accelerate the rusting process.

Here are some ways to reduce rusting on your appliances:

*     Use the heated dry setting of your dishwasher to speed up drying time.

*     Take damp clothes out of the washing machine immediately after washing to reduce rusting to protect the metal in the washing machine drum.

*     Replace appliance water filters regularly as they help remove naturally occurring water minerals that can corrode components.

*     Wipe the surfaces of your appliances with a soft, nonabrasive cloth. Make sure the cloth is clean so that residue doesn’t scratch the surface.

*     Use an appliance polish and follow all package directions.

*     On stainless steel appliances, don’t use cleaners that contain chlorides. Cleaners containing alcohol, ammonia or mineral spirits can also damage the protective layer. Instead, to maintain the appliance’s luster, use a mild soap/dish detergent and warm water solution to clean fingers prints, dust, etc. Make sure to dry it completely!


Removing the rust

To remove rust from stainless steel appliances, GE recommends using a cloth or soft bristle brush with baking soda and water solution. Rub the stain in the direction of the grain until the stain is removed and then rinse with clean water and a soft cloth. Then apply a stainless steel cleaner.

You can also use a product such as Bar Keeper’s Friend (liquid cleaner ONLY, which is free of grit) and rub in the direction of the metal grain with a damp soft sponge.

If using Bar Keeper's Friend, use only the liquid cleanser (free of grit) and be sure rub in the direction of the metal grain lines with a damp soft sponge



Photo courtesy GE appliances:



Jan. 9, 2019

Don't Want Your For-Sale Property to Sit on the Market? Consider a Professional Stager

Entry way

If you’re ready to trade-up (or downsize), hiring a professional home stager is one easy way to help your home sell faster. Read on for some "staging 411" from Blair Morrison of Kailua-based Windward Coast Design.

Why Should you Stage Your Home?

According Morrison, who co-owns Windward Coast Design with partner Sherry Fahrenwald, there are some distinct advantages to staging your home. 

Staged homes spend less time on the market and usually sell at a higher price. The longer a house stays on the market, the lower price it will attract, so selling faster is always better!

Staging your home provides a good return on investment. According to the National Association of Realtors, a 1-3 percent investment in staging yields an 8 percent return.

Lastly, your online photos will look great! Why is this important? Because 90 percent of buyers decide which homes to see in person based on what they see online.

Partial vs. Complete Staging

A vacant house requires complete staging, which includes full furnishings and accessories.Partial staging, however, can mean two things, according to Morrison.

In some cases, the homeowner has vacated the property and left behind furniture, so the stagers need only add accessories.

In other cases, the homeowner is still living in the home while it is being shown. This is the most challenging type of staging, Morrison said.

“In that case, you need to take into account the size of the family, the ages of the kids in the home and you want them to be able to live in the space and not be too put out with the staging materials so that it disrupts their daily lives as little as possible,” she added.


Help Buyers Feel “At Home”

Staging techniques, including removing personal artifacts such as family photos, help homebuyers imagine a potential property as their home.

“You want the potential buyer to visualize their own photos in the room, not another family’s,” Morrison said. 

Although Windward Coast Designs creates an individualized plan for each property, there are some specific guidelines that Morrison and Fahrenwald use when staging.

“Each space needs its own proportions and scale of furnishings to complement the room, so you need to make sure everything is balanced, clean and uncluttered,” Morrison said. “Then we add texture and pops of something unexpected, such as a bright color or a metallic, to make it special.”

For a welcoming first impression, Fahrenwald and Morrison will often add a detail to the entrance of a home like a small table, armchair, a pot of flowers, or a hanging pot with tropical greenery.

Staging for Oahu

Staging on a tropical island like Oahu presents some specific challenges and calls for a coastal style aesthetic, according to Morrison.

“For example, chrome bath accessories won’t wear as long as other materials in our tropical climate, because they will rust,” Morrison said. Glass wears longer, but it is heavier and more fragile, so these pros and cons must be balanced.

Shipping issues related to living on an island and lower stock in some local retail stores can make replacing inventory difficult.

To mesh with our tropical environment, Windward Coast Design favors cool colors, lightweight furniture, clean lines and natural accents.

“Here in Hawaii, I would not use a lot of heavy furniture or dark colors,” Morrison said. “If you were in a mountain region that might work, but not here.”


Dec. 26, 2018

Shop Local Kailua Boutiques: Decorative Coral, Party Apparel and Locally-Inspired Home Fragrances


Windward-side commerce is bustling with independent boutiques offering great finds, whether you are seeking a home refresh for yourself, a hostess gift, or a sparkly New Year’s outfit. Here are some of the Kailua’s best local specialty shops and their offerings.


SoHa Living

This local chain with several locations on Oahu and other islands, offers distinctive home accessories, such as a huge collection of blue and white verified farm-raised coral, great hostess gift ideas such as cocktail shakers, hand-carved wood serving pieces, and signature home fragrance diffusers and candles. There are even engaging kids’ finds like a tropical fairy garden with “magical plants” used by fairies. SoHa also offers a great service whereby they will custom print a photo provided by you on a wood plank. 

Best finds: decorative coral

539 Kailua Road, Suite 106

SoHa also has locations at the Kahala Mall, in Haleiwa and Waikiki and on the islands of Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island as well as four locations in Southern California.


Kailua Moon

Opened in November, Kailua Moon offers women’s clothing brands that aren’t often seen in local stores such as more glam attire (and even some great shiny New Year’s Eve choices) by Bailey 44, soft cotton knit dresses and tees by Three Dots, and comfortable but stylish finds by Los Angeles-based Mod-O-Doc.  

Pam Miller-Sofos, who co-owns the boutique with Kathy Keller, said Kailua Moon seeks to support the windward community by being a gathering place for local women and providing personalized service.

“We like helping women feel and look beautiful by what they’re wearing,” Miller-Sofos said.

Best Finds: Three Dots

539 Kailua Road #104

Kailua Moon also has a sister store on the Big Island.


Sand People

For elegant paper products and cards, gorgeous freshwater pearl jewelry and locally inspired screen printed tote bags and more, visit Sand People. There is also a carefully curated collection of women’s clothing with brands such as  Hard Tail and Velvet. Next door is Sand Kids, with high quality children’s clothing, huggable stuffed animals, and friendship bracelets that are adorable for layering.

Best Finds: jewelry by Vietnamese jewelry designer Chan Luu 

600 Kailua Road #118

Sand People also has four stores in Waikiki, two on Kauai, and four on Maui.



Manuheali’i’s freestanding and recently revamped exterior is as charming as the clothing collection inside. Family owned and operated since 1985, Manuheali’i has men’s, women’s and children’s clothing in vividly-colored tropical prints created exclusively for the store. The locally printed fabrics and locally sewn styles change every four to six weeks.

Jumpsuits, flowy pants, mini and maxi dresses and off-the-shoulder and tank tops are usually part of the Manuheali’i collection.

Best Finds: Anything you LOVE! Grab it before the collection changes.


Fighting Eel 

Also locally designed and made, Fighing Eel’s women’s designs are versatile enough to transition from slippers to high heels. The store also features sister brand, Ava Sky. Designers Rona Bennett and Lan Chung describe their brand as a “blend of sexy and simple.” Fighting Eel’s clothing should please any minimalist who wants to look chic AND be comfortable.

629 Kailua Road #130

Best Finds: Dresses that transition seamlessly from work to casual beach days to parties.

Fighting Eel also has locations in the Kahala Mall, downtown Honolulu and Waikiki.



Other great local boutiques

Mahina - women’s apparel and jewelry

Under the Hula Moon - women’s clothing, home accessories, jewelry

Global Village - apparel, home accessories, jewelry (at least 35% of its products from small businesses, eco-minded businesses, businesses that contribute a portion of their profits to charitable and fair trade organizations, made in Hawaii designers, or are product Made in the USA)

Olive (women’s clothing)- Brands such as Current Elliot, Splendid, Soft Joie

Oliver (men’s clothing) - Brands include Scotch and Soda, Faherty Brand, Fred Segal

Dec. 19, 2018

Does (the end result of) Home Remodeling Excite You? Check out these resources for inspiration!

A home remodel is a great time to establish a new vision for your home that reflects your personality, your aesthetic preferences and your lifestyle. Are you someone who favors the sleekness of mid-century classic modern furnishings? Or do you prefer an exotic bohemian look? And how do you figure this out? Thankfully, there are many online and in person resources to help you decide!


Hawaii Home + Remodeling Magazine

This locally produced magazine is published once a month and is available both online and in print. It is filled with full-color photos of Hawaii homes, with articles covering topics such as innovative exteriors, outdoor spaces, ohana units, and local kitchen and bath trends.  Hawaii Home + Remodeling magazine is an excellent resource for local interpretations of tropical style.

The Big Building and Remodeling Show

This annual exhibition is sponsored by the Building Industry Association of Hawaii. The next event is Jan. 25-27 at the Neil S. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall. The exhibitors include licensed contractors who are in compliance with state laws and who have been reviewed by BBB and the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs for Complaints.

This bi-annual show includes local design firms as well as vendors such as roofers, plumbers, and general contractors. Stop by design firm booths and ask to view photos of past projects to see what sparks your imagination. This is also a chance to learn about specific designers’ working style, philosophy and aesthetic.

Web Sites

There are hundreds of web sites that provide inspiration for a home remodel. One of the most comprehensive is Houzz. This site allows you to filter a search by room and style (such as Beach Style, Asian, Industrial, Rustic, and Craftsmen), shop and even find a local remodeling professional.

Local Furniture Stores

Furniture stores usually group their wares in staged room, affording you a chance to see how the professionals arrange furniture, and pair fabrics, patterns and pieces for maximum appeal and livability.

Local chains Pacific Home and C.S. Wo and Sons specialize in Coastal style. Both offer in-house design services as well.

Aloha Home Market

The quarterly Aloha Home Market in Kailua showcases one-of-a-kind locally made, home made goods. Look for hand-dyed pillow cases, and koa and reclaimed wood furniture. You might find that one gorgeous piece that serves as the focal point for an entire room.

Most importantly, do your research! Once you know how you want your “new” abode to look, you’ll be one step closer to your true dream home!

[Photo courtesy of Pacific Home: Pacific Home found on Yelp]

Nov. 29, 2018

It's Holiday Time in Kaneohe, Kailua and Waimanalo

Kailua Town Christmas

It is time to start celebrating the Holidays on the Windward side!  One of my favorite things during the Holidays is to see all of the lights up, especially on palm trees. 

So, this weekend is the big kick off of things to do!  On Saturday, December 1, the Kane'ohe Christmas Parade will start at 9am and travel down Kamehameha Highway.  If you are in search of gifts and crafts, the Lanikai Craft Fair will be held from 9-3 and the Kalama Beach Club Craft Fair from 10-4. 

If you have a four-legged friend, and want to capture their Holiday spirit, photos will be taken from 10-2 on Dec. 1 & 2, and proceeds will benefit the Humane Society.  “Pictures with Santa Paws” will not only feature photos, but also a pop up shop. 

And, on Wednesday, Dec. 5, Castle Hospital will hold their annual tree lighting and concert.  Festivities begin shortly after 6pm. The formal ceremony begins at 7, and Josh Tatofi will be performing after.

And, the following weekend, Waimanalo will host their parade on Saturday, December 8.  In the past it has traveled southeast down Kalanianaole toward Waimanalo beach park.  And, it is not Holiday related, but also don't forget about the Aloha Aina Recycling Drive on Dec. 8 at Kainalu Elementary.  

There’s so much to do and celebrate!!  What other community activities do you know about?