Story by Sarah Ruppenthal | Photography by Images by Ora, LLC
Tim Tattersall and Errol Buntuyan are no strangers to adventure. They’ve had their passports stamped in more than thirty countries on all six inhabited continents — and they haven’t ruled out a trip to Antarctica in the future. But of all the places they’ve visited, Maui tops their list. So when Tim and Errol moved here from the leafy suburbs of Connecticut seven years ago, the two jetsetters were on the hunt for a house that would serve as home base between trips.
They found their dream home down a dusty gravel road in a remote part of East Maui. Just shy of two acres, the verdant property has a commanding view of the ocean and offers complete privacy.
“We looked homes all over the island, but we knew this was the one as soon as we drove in,” says Errol, who recalls that he half-expected a valet to greet them as they rounded the circular driveway.
The scenic location may have been a selling point, but “We bought the house because of the house,” says Tim.
It’s easy to see why. The 2,600-square-foot, three-bedroom home features an eye-catching roofline with five pyramids of varying sizes. All five are finished in blue tile; two are capped with skylights that wash the interiors with sunshine. The blue tile struck a chord with Errol, who was born in the Philippines. “You see a lot of blue-tile roofs there,” he says. “So our rooftop takes me back to my Asian roots.”
The distinctive look of the home is rivaled only by the story behind its construction.
In 1988, the original owner of the property hired a local architect to design a spiritual retreat that would double as her residence. The architect employed geomancy (a siting technique similar to feng shui) to create a dwelling with rooftop pyramids — along with a few other unconventional details. Among them: four large crystals encased in the cement columns that support the main pyramid above the living room. The crystals are wrapped in copper wiring, which travels up within the four columns and meets at the apex of the pyramid. This intricate configuration is intended to insulate the room from disruptive external energies. The five geomantic pyramids (or “geomids”) are antennae designed to absorb and generate waves of cosmic energy, bringing equilibrium to the home and its residents.
Whether you think geomancy is fact or fiction, Tim and Errol agree that there is a palpable sense of order and serenity in the home. Errol, a Maui physician, says the tension of the day is banished the instant he walks in the front door.
As soon as the ink dried on the deed, Tim and Errol embarked on a new adventure, but one with a different kind of itinerary: a floor-to-ceiling home makeover.
Tim had worked for Ralph Lauren in New York for nearly twenty years, and was up for the challenge. “The house had been built as a retreat,” he says. “We had to transform it into a home — a retreat for two.”
The house was pink, inside and out, so the first order of business was having the exterior walls repainted white, the interior walls done in calming earth tones. They also swapped out bubblegum-pink toilets, bathtubs and other ultrafeminine fixtures. And they removed the wall-to-wall white carpeting “for both aesthetic and practical purposes,” says Tim. “Out here in ‘the jungle,’ bare floors are a wiser choice.”
As renovations got under way, the new homeowners decided to incorporate the styles that had most influenced them during their travels. Tim painted the front door Parisian blue, giving the entrance a distinctly European feel. With the downstairs carpet gone, they poured a thin layer of polished cement on top of the foundation, then acid-stained it in rusted oranges and browns reminiscent of a Mediterranean villa. Those colors help ground the house, Tim says, and the polished floor feels smooth under bare feet.
They also restored the cedar ceilings throughout the house, and added interior walls to create a pantry, a home office, a large third bathroom, and built-in bookshelves. “We added the walls for form and function, but also to create more private interior spaces,” says Errolc.
In the guest bedroom upstairs, they laid bamboo flooring. The guest bathroom’s focal point is a stone basin. “I found it at a store years ago, fell in love with it and designed the bathroom around it,” says Tim. “I chose the woods, textures and colors based on the sink.”
Downstairs, in the master suite, four sturdy columns surround a built-in, king-sized koa bed that floats like an island under a pyramid-shaped skylight. Glass sliders open onto ocean views that extend — no exaggeration — all the way to Hana.
Perhaps the most show-stopping feature of the house is the master bathroom. It’s light and spacious, with no pipes in sight. The plumbing hides inside the four columns of the sunken rainhead shower, which was refinished with cobalt-blue swimming-pool tiles — a detail inspired by a trip to a Moroccan riad in 2005. Pipes are also conspicuously absent underneath the smooth slab of a Bahia-blue granite washplane, a simple yet elegant fixture.
Although Errol and Tim contributed equally to the design process, the experience inspired Tim to launch a home-design company, Tim Tattersall Design. “It was a life-changing event for me,” he says.
The interior of the home is proof of his keen eye for design. Comfortable furnishings in vibrant shades of blue welcome guests into an undeniably inviting space. An oversized denim sofa holds court in the living room; in the corner, a Balinese daybed offers the perfect spot to drift into a sun-dappled nap.
Scattered throughout the house is evidence of Tim and Errol’s far-flung travels: paintings, framed photographs, books and other artifacts echo excursions to exotic places. Among the ever-expanding trove are Turkish carpets; Moroccan prayer rugs; original paintings from Italy; Buddha statues from Tibet, Nepal, India, Korea and Japan; a hand-carved Alaskan totem pole; a piano bench from Argentina and a chess set from Dubai.
It may be home base, but Tim and Errol say every day here feels like a vacation.
“It’s more than a staycation,” says Errol. “It’s our refuge.”