Home & Heart
One of Maui’s most popular restaurateurs has a new place to entertain.
“To me, there are two ways to build a house,” says Allaire with his usual decisiveness. “You build the roof and build all the rooms underneath to fit it. Or you design all your rooms and you get what you get when you get the hat.”
Allaire clearly prefers a nice hat. “We love our C.W. Dickey roof,” he says, standing outside his new home in Ka‘anapali, West Maui. He’s referring to the signature double-hip roof style of renowned early 20th-century Hawai‘i architect, Charles Dickey. Allaire waxes poetic on the roof’s geometry and its generous eaves that not only provide ample shade, but, more important for a hospitality-minded couple like David and Jackie Allaire, a welcoming, embracing feel for their many guests. By way of contrast, Allaire points out the mini-eaves of one of his neighbors. “That looks like, Honey, I Shrunk the Roof,” he says. “Looks like they put the roof in the dryer and it didn’t work out very well. It’s a bad hat.”
Another thing about his roofline and eaves that Allaire is proud of: They echo classic Hawai‘i plantation style houses. “We wanted to build our home with a sense of place,” he says, “just like we always build our restaurants with a sense of place.”
As a senior vice-president and board member of Maui-based TS Restaurants, Allaire has taken an active role in designing the company’s seven Hawai‘i establishments: Kimo’s and Leilani’s on the Beach on Maui, the Hula Grill on Maui and in Waikïkï; Duke’s in Waikïkï and on Kaua‘i; and Keoki’s on Kaua‘i.
Seeing his obvious enthusiasm when describing architecture and interior design, you wonder whether Allaire keeps opening restaurants so he’ll have a new design project to play with. “Well, it’s so darn much fun,” he admits.
That he loves designing is readily apparent when Allaire leads visitors through his new home. Once you get beyond his epic love poem to his roof, he’ll take you in through the rich, red-brown African mahagony front doors, which he designed. The foyer floor is tan and black “koa acacia” (Australian acacia). Allaire says that the half-bath off the foyer, with its funky metal palm-leaf sconces, is a “shrine to Tommy Bahama,” the tropical clothing designer. A nearby pair of prints by Maui artist Cindy Conklin feature paddling and hula motifs. Other art throughout the house also incorporates island themes—in the kitchen a trio of fun aloha shirt paintings by another Maui artist Carlton Kincaid; in the master bedroom a Kincaid oil of plantation cottages, and a large painting of shimmering koi by yet another local artist (and Allaire friend), George Allan; in the hall, framed behind glass, a delicate lei of black and violet-white feathers by Jo-Anne Kahanamoku-Sterling.
Perhaps the most striking combination of art and architecture in the Allaire home is the wall at one end of the dining room. Comprised of small, uneven squares of raw bluestone quarried in Kapalua, the wall is hung with two luminescent koa canoe paddles that frame an embedded flat-screen TV. The contrast between old and new, rough and smooth, matte and glossy create a curious interplay that captures the eye.
This interesting wall first took shape on a piece of notebook paper that Allaire scribbled on a year or so earlier. It is one of many such pages now archived in a dozen 3-ring binders on a shelf in Jackie’s workout room. The binders are full of her husband’s sketches for the house and the grounds. One page shows a terraced stone wall, plants and a palm tree—all of which now exist right outside. Other pages show variations on door designs, the pool area, window ideas, wainscoting, sinks—it goes on and on. Among Allaire’s sketches are glossy brochures and ads ripped from magazines for all kinds of furnishings and fixtures. These aren’t careful “professional” drawings; they’re rough, with nary a straight line. Yet, you can tell what Allaire saw in his mind’s eye. And you can clearly see how deeply and happily involved he was in the design of his home.
“David had his hand in all of it,” says architect Dennis Harmon. “He knew the feel of what he wanted to create,” which was “indoor-outdoor living in a Hawaiian style.”
Harmon, of Harmon Architects in Lahaina, would take Allaire’s sketches and map them out exactly in 3-D CAD (computer assisted design).
And the drawings kept coming even well after building had begun. Allaire says he was making changes almost right up to the moment the final nail was hammered. “I’d say that half the house was field decisions,” he says.
Typically, this kind of home owner gives an architect and builder nightmares. But Allaire says that his builder, Roy Hoiem, not only “put up with all my field decisions, but often gladly joined in the process.”
Harmon insists Allaire was “a dream client, lots of fun, really in tune with Maui and the Hawai‘i way of living.”
Interior designer Dian Cleve echoes the architect, calling the Allaires “fabulous clients,” who welcomed her onto their team. “Each of them is very talented,” says Cleve, of Cleve and Levin in Honolulu and Austin, Texas. Both David and Jackie “have great vision and are able to articulate their vision.” She says her role was mostly to “add my voice and some definition.”
Cleve’s biggest challenge was to occasionally remind Mr. Island-Style Restaurant Designer that he might not want to make his home look exactly like his businesses. “David has a particular love of Hawaiiana, so it was determining how far we would go down that road.” For instance, there was the lauhala ceilings idea. “We’d think of something, and then go, uh-uh, too Trader Vics,” says Cleve.
As a test, they always came back to the defining architectural concept for the house: Arts and Crafts, the style and design philosophy of simplicity, strength and human scale most famously championed in the early 20th century by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Cleve says that one of her favorite contributions to the home’s interior design is a simple but sophisticated bamboo loveseat with strong lines and an elegant, low-key, yet commanding presence. She and the Allaires took to calling it “the bamboo that went to Harvard.”
Cleve also loves all of the African mahagony that anchors the home throughout—the doors, columns, cabinetry and plantation style louvers. It’s a good choice, says Cleve, not only because it gives defining contrast to the pastel beiges and greys of the stucco, but because it’s a plentiful, renewable resource.
“Everything is designed so it is ultimately enjoyable and carefree,” says Cleve. “This is a house that’s going to be used—family, friends, community, church. We saw it as very much a meeting place.”
And so it is. On May 1st, Jackie and David Allaire threw a party at their new home, partly in honor of the local “May Day” holiday, but also to celebrate the recent completion of their home. All afternoon, their friends arrived, talked, laughed, swam in the pool, drank—and, of course, ate very well, thanks to some of those Allaire friends who also happen to be chefs at TS Restaurants. (See “The Chefs Summer BBQ”).
David and Jackie Allaire were clearly in their element as hosts, even more so as they showed guests through their home. At one point they met, leading different couples through the bedroom. “I feel like we’re in the White House, coming across the other tour,” said David.
Everyone laughed, which seems to be a frequent occurrence in this household that is so often open to friends and strangers. As David Allaire says, “The best decoration for any house—or restaurant, I guess—is people.”