Designing properties in tropical locations like Hawai’i can be both exciting and challenging. The beauty of the natural landscape here provides a unique opportunity to create a harmonious connection between the indoors and outdoors, but it also poses some unique considerations to keep in mind.
One of the primary challenges is the high humidity and moisture levels. The mixture of a both warm and wet climate encourages mold and mildew growth which can damage furniture, fabrics, wallpaper, and other materials. For those who choose to live on or near the ocean, the same salty air we love to breathe in can also cause corrosion in metals or leave behind an unwanted residue on furnishings or windows. Therefore, carefully selecting materials that can withstand the location-specific climate is essential to provide clients with a design that will withstand.
Another challenge that designers face in Hawai’i is the abundance of natural light. While natural light is excellent for creating a warm and inviting space, it can also make the interior feel too bright and hot. To combat this, designers need to consider incorporating elements such as window coverings, sunshades, cooling or ventilation systems, and ceiling fans that can help to control the amount of heat entering the room to keep the space comfortable and cool.
Designing interiors in Hawai’i also requires a sincere understanding and appreciation of the rich local culture, customs and history. Hawaiian interior design styles are traditionally characterized by organic and earthy materials such as stone and native woods accented by bamboo or rattan furniture. It also incorporates colors inspired by the island's lush greenery, ocean blues, or breathtaking sunsets and beaches. Balancing the traditional Hawaiian style with more contemporary design elements will create a more stylish space that still honors the beauty and spirit of island living.
Lastly, one of the biggest considerations designers need to keep in mind is the remote location of Hawai’i which poses logistical challenges such as more limited resources and higher shipping costs. Therefore, it is crucial to establish relationships with local suppliers and craftsmen to ensure that the design project runs smoothly and on budget.
Don’t let designing in a tropical climate like Hawaii deter you! While it presents a unique set of challenges that require careful consideration, by keeping such things as temperature and humidity in mind, selecting appropriate building materials, respecting the local culture, and working with the environment – rather than against it, designers can create buildings and homes that not only look beautiful but also function extremely well. Where possible I also believe we should strive to incorporate more sustainable practices to protect our fragile ecosystem. This could include strategies such as choosing native species of plants, purchasing energy efficient appliances, and sourcing locally as much as possible. Mahalo for taking the time to read this post, I hope you learned something new along the way!