This west Maui dwelling owes its design to the elemental attraction of water.
Pool flowing throughout Kapalua luxury home.
(page 1 of 2)
At the top of Kapalua, in the West Maui Mountains, JoRene and Gunars Valkirs have carved out a slice of paradise. Their spacious residence has a full-time cook, a serious garden (with a devoted agricultural assistant), three rescued dogs and a haughty feline who reigns over the entire operation.
The path to creating their dream home started years ago, before Gunars and his partner sold the company they cofounded.
“We had been visiting Maui for years, for a week or two at a time,” Gunar recalls. “One year we rented a house in Kapalua and stayed for a month.”
“While watching the kite surfers in Oneloa Bay, Gunars got the notion he could live here,” adds JoRene. “When he said ‘I’d like to try that someday,’ I knew he was hooked.”
A few years later the couple purchased a three-and-a-half-acre lot in Kapalua’s Honolua Ridge; a few years after that, they began working on the place they now call home.
“We had a large property in San Diego,” Gunars explains, “so we wanted acreage. Honolua Ridge was one of the few places within a resort [on Maui] where you could get that.”
The pair hired Rick Ryniak to design their home. Before starting the plans, the Maui architect flew to San Diego and stayed with the couple for a long weekend.
“I was able to see how the Valkirs lived and learn what was important to them. They showed me pictures of a home whose pool was tucked inside the U-shape of the building. Water and their relationship to water were important,” says Ryniak.
“There’s nothing in this house that we sacrificed for resale value. A lot of people build with that in mind, but we have no intention of selling this house,” Gunars tells me.
The result of building a home entirely on their own terms is one of the most appealing estates on Maui, a haven whose quiet is laced with birdsong and lit by afternoon rainbows.
Enter the estate through the iron-and-glass butterfly gate designed by Dale Evers, and notice how the sky is mirrored in reflection pools on either side of a walkway that leads to a broad, covered lanai connecting the home’s two main structures. Beyond the lanai, an infinity-edge swimming pool creates the illusion of spilling into the sea. Below the house is a grassy plateau where the Valkirs dogs love to romp. An expansive garden, Gunars’s passion and pastime since retiring, completes the estate.
“We grow everything from seed in the greenhouse,” he says. “The tall grasses around the garden form a natural barrier to erosion and pests. That particular variety grows roots five feet down into the soil. This way we can keep the garden all natural.”
The home was designed as two separate living areas, one for guests, the other to accommodate the couple’s daily life. Massive glass walls retract to allow the outside in so effortlessly that it’s easy to lose track of where the house ends and the natural environment begins.
To enable such seamlessness, Ryniak designed the home without intruding columns. Rather than being built from the ground up, the house hangs from an unseen steel I-beam superstructure that allows the broadest possible ocean vista.