“In Hawaii, your home extends to the boundaries of your property.” — Kurt Mitchell, AIA

When it comes to residential design, the team at Graham Builders approaches each project with a carefully informed awareness of the potential of the relationship between a home and its setting.

“Good residential design should blur the distinction between indoor and out; each space should flow into the next,” says Bonnie Oda, director of client care for the Honolulu design/build firm. “With the right design team, modern renovations and rebuilds can present tremendous opportunities that take full advantage of property surroundings.”

Like many of her fellow team members, Oda learned plenty about maximizing a property’s surroundings from the late Kurt Mitchell, AIA, the celebrated local architect and former president/CEO of multi-award winning Kober Hanssen and Mitchell Architects, and managing principal of Pacific Rim Hawaii.

“Kurt teamed up with Graham Builders several years ago and taught us that, in Hawaii, our homes extend past our walls,” says Oda. “Good design should take advantage of what nature has to offer. It embraces views and the therapeutic benefits of the outdoors.”


As an example of this design philosophy, Oda shares photos of an Aiea renovation that was handled from start to finish by Graham Builders.

There was plenty to work with, she recalls. The home was surrounded by an expansive display of the Waiahole Forest Reserve.

“Unfortunately, the side of the house with the views had no windows,” says Oda. “The homeowner said his kitchen felt restricted and suffocating.”

The homeowner and Graham Builders collaborated to create an expansive kitchen with large windows that allow natural light to spill through, offering soothing vistas of the woods beyond. Big windows in an added breakfast room provide sweeping panoramic views of the mountains.

“The results were magnificent and added to the value of the property,” comments Oda.

“This underscores the vital importance of hiring an experienced company that you can comfortably communicate and collaborate with.”


In Manoa, another homeowner decided to rebuild and modernize his 1950s home. His vision for his dream house? He wanted to feel like he was sitting outside under the trees as he sipped his morning coffee.

The homeowner and his wife attended Graham Builders’ “Building Your Home for Life” seminar and decided that they’d found the right contractor to help make that vision a reality.

The couple can scarcely believe how wonderfully the company’s work met their expectations. Soaring windows, each 30 feet high, effortlessly marry the outdoors with the indoor living space; sliding glass doors glide open to reveal the patio at the edge of the spectacular windows.

“You truly feel like you’re sitting under the tall Manoa trees when you’re in their living room!” exclaims Oda. “It’s especially breath-taking on the second floor, where you can see the trees through the glass rails.”


For ultimate harmony, visual and physical movement from inside to the great outdoors should be seamless.

“Transitions that harmonize spaces — like sliding walls of glass or pocket doors between indoor and outdoor living spaces — can be wonderful for entertaining, and they add to a space’s adaptability,” says Oda.

Corner windows and windows that provide an unobstructed view from the front of your home all the way to the rear can make a stunning impact, she adds.

“Good design should draw people into a home,” Oda concludes. “And when they’re inside, they should be drawn out!”

For more than three decades, Graham Builders has been helping Hawaii families make the most of their island homes, with designs and workmanship that maximize the relationship between a home and its surroundings. You are invited to register for their free “Building Your Home for Life” seminar on Saturday, Sept. 11 at grahambuilders.com/seminar, or call 808-593-2808.