Oceanfront Oasis


Hale Pau Hana

Set overlooking the water at Keawakapu Beach, an outdated restaurant-turned-condo gets a luxurious facelift by one of Maui’s most ambitious design firms.
Story by Heidi Pool
Photographs by Greg Hoxsie
Hale Pau Hana

When Les McClure, of Mill Creek, Washington, engaged Maui interior designer Valorie Spence to assist with remodeling his oceanfront condo on Maui, winning a prestigious international design competition was the last thing on both of their minds. But that’s exactly what ultimately occurred: the project earned Valorie’s firm, Interior Design Solutions, the 2020 ADEX Platinum Award for Superior Design and Innovation.

Les and his wife Judy acquired Unit D1 at The Hale Pau Hana resort in Kīhei in 2017. The unit’s 1970s-style décor featured small-scale white ceramic tiles, a dim and dated kitchen, an overabundance of koa wood, and front windows that were sorely inadequate given the extraordinary view.

“I decided to gut the entire condo and start from scratch,” Les said. “I wanted it completely open to the ocean, and to carve out a third bedroom.”

Hale Pau Hana

An important consideration for Les was selecting an interior designer he could work with side by side to achieve his vision. An industrial contractor by trade, Les wanted to be directly involved in all facets of the remodel. When interviewing prospective designers, he told them, “I’m fairly innovative, and I’ll take thirty to fifty percent of your ideas, then add some of my own.” Upon hearing this, two candidates immediately opted out. But Les found the perfect partner in Valorie. “She said, ‘As long as you’re paying the bills, I’ll do anything you’d like,’ ” he said, smiling. “Les and I worked synergistically throughout the entire process,” Valorie said. Her overall design concept was based on two themes: transparency and floating elements. “I knew immediately we should convert the entire front wall into sliding-glass doors that fully disappear when opened,” she said. They also decided to replace the solid front door with diaphanous etched glass mounted in a mahogany frame and expand the narrow entry hall, so the view is fully visible the moment you approach the condo. On Les’ wish list were a floating bed in the primary bedroom and illuminated etched glass in the primary bath’s sink basin.

Les and Valorie retained some, but not all, of the unit’s original koa features, while incorporating a couple of new elements. In addition to relocating a koa desk from the kitchen to the primary bedroom, Les asked Valorie to salvage the classic drop-leaf koa dining table. She paired it with highly sculptural Brazilian cherry-wood chairs that are comfortable, durable, and most importantly low profile, allowing for an unobstructed ocean view from the adjacent living area and primary bedroom. Les designed and engineered a pair of dramatic koa arches, one of which graces the entryway, while the other magnificently frames the fireplace.

Hale Pau Hana

Fireplace? Yep. Unit D1 is one half of the building that originally housed the Hale Pau Hana’s Anchor Cove restaurant. When it closed, the new owners of the space converted it into side-by-side duplex units. Les and Judy’s side still boasts the former eatery’s wood-burning fireplace, an unusual feature given Kīhei’s sub-tropical climate. Les and Valorie maintained its cozy ambiance by installing red and orange LED lights inside the firebox to resemble flames, without radiating unwanted heat.

Les and Valorie are delighted with the condo’s remodeled primary bathroom. Standout features include dazzling lemurian blue granite countertops and a stunning etched glass sink basin with a humpback whale motif that is fully illuminated from underneath. Quarried in Madagascar, lemurian blue granite is a mélange of rich blue, green, black and turquoise hues, punctuated with luminescent labradorite crystals. “When we spied the blue granite at a stone yard in Seattle, it was among the best I’d ever seen,” Valorie said. She convinced Les to purchase it – despite the hefty price tag – and “still gets goosebumps thinking about that moment.” Knowing exactly what he wished to achieve with the sink, Les took his concept to four different craftspeople. “They all said it couldn’t be done,” he said. Undaunted, Les designed it himself and asked his own team of construction professionals to build it.

Hale Pau Hana

With his extensive industrial resources, Les was able to overcome the project’s most difficult engineering challenges. Installing a steel support beam for the 40-foot floor-to-ceiling windows required a hefty dose of ingenuity. When the 3,000-pound beam arrived from California, “we used a pallet-jack system I devised, coupled with two layers of plywood, to drag it across the grass.” They employed additional heavy-duty jacks to lift and support the condo’s roof while they slipped the colossal beam into place.

Les’ desire to incorporate a floating bed into the primary bedroom’s design also required him to don his engineer’s thinking cap. “Many of the floating beds you see online actually have clear Plexiglas legs,” he said. Les designed and built a fully cantilevered platform anchored by another massive steel support beam – this one extends downward into the building’s basement.

Custom-made bedspreads, pillows, and shams bring elegant pops of bright color to the condo’s three bedrooms. “Here in Hawai‘i, you need to incorporate bold tones into interior designs to counterbalance our brilliant blue ocean and sky, and lush green landscapes,” Valorie said. She aims for a “collected” look, where print fabrics may not exactly match, but rather complement one another, much like furnishings a person acquires over time.

Hale Pau Hana

Construction lasted a total of six months. Les brought a team of 10 professionals from his industrial contracting firm to remodel the condo to his and Valorie’s specifications. “My workers brought their wives with them, and they stayed in a couple of houses and apartments I had rented,” he said. “They all had a wonderful time on Maui, while still getting the job done as quickly as possible.”

Les and Valorie’s synergism paid off handsomely. In bestowing the ADEX award, the judging panel gave high praise to the unit’s redesigned entryway, glass door wall, cantilevered bed, and exquisite etched-glass panels.

Although their sumptuous, award-winning condo is available year-round as a vacation rental, Les and Judy reward their key employees from time to time with a stay in Anchor Cove D1, named to honor the building’s history. “For Judy and me, the best part of owning this unit is sharing it with our employees. They’re the ones who helped build our company and made it what it is today.

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