The Insta-Home Challenge: Honolulu, HI

by Angela on February 3, 2014 · 8 comments

There’s nice … and then there’s niiiiiiiice.

We’ve arrived on the island of Oahu, Hawaii with The Lion King for two months. If that sheer fact wasn’t enough, we booked The Gingerbread House in Honolulu — a historic residence in the posh neighborhood of Kahala. And yeah… it’s niiiiiiice.

There’s a pool in the lush backyard with a hottub, a covered lanai, and our living room boasts vaulted, open-beamed ceilings.

And did I mention the quiet Kahala Beach is across the street?

There’s not much that’s challenging about this home. And right about now, you (and I’m talking you, who’s knee-deep in the treacherous snowstorm that’s clobbering the eastern half of the country) want to punch me. I get it. Just know there’s not one moment that goes by when I’m not feeling grateful for where we are. We got damn lucky when I secured this place one full year ago on VRBO.

Paradise comes at a price — literally!  This beautifully maintained 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath Tudor-French Norman cottage costs a pretty penny to rent. Hands-down, our stint in Hawaii was going to deplete our accounts across the board anywhere we looked. So we asked three other families to go in on it with us: the Cordileones, the Higleys, and the Freemans.  This meant all four of us Hollicks had to share one bedroom. Eeeeek. Also, I feared that all four families would be on top of each other since the owner Veronica said we had 2,000 square feet to work with.  But since we moved in, it’s actually been really fun to share space. The kiddos love it, that’s for sure!

We’re right on the corner of Kahala Avenue and Hunakai Street, and our beach access is across the street.

The Gingerbread House is one of fifteen Tudor-French Norman homes in Honolulu, listed on the National Register of Historic Places (we are a feature on the tour bus route!). The cottage, designed by J. Alvin Shadinger, features an asymmetrical, three-level floor plan, a half-timber and half-stucco facade, with a high-pitched roof that’s constructed to look like thatching.

Little details are delightful — like this built-in birdhouse here:

I love the playful bean-shaped Dali-like window up top which punctuates the inside of our dining room.

Other olde English accents are romantic, like this hanging exterior lantern, the rustic front door (it splits horizontally in two!) and the clanging bell…

Even the mailbox matches the house!

So how do the Hollicks cram themselves into one bedroom? First, it helps that we have the top floor to ourselves.  Here’s the landing that takes you to three different bedrooms: Tony Freeman’s is on the left,  the Cordileones are on a split level in the middle (up four stairs), and then our “tower” is up the stairs to the right.

The stairs are at an irregular spiral, but so far no one — including Max — has wiped out.

Our room is snug, but we make it work. Eva’s GoCrib is wedged between our queen bed and the wall.

We also have a flat-screen TV that we rarely watch. But it sure is nice to have it!

We have our own spacious bathroom, which sort of makes up for the small bedroom.

We’ve got the only tub in the house, so Max hosts tub-parties on occasion.

Milo and a visiting Ariela have a most important meeting in the tub with Max.

We also have this long, walk-through closet which I love.

Hey, where does Max crash, you ask? Well, we truly lucked out on this one. We have this little surprise room off the bathroom, a sort of walk-in closet/crawl space that the owner put a futon in. Et voila! Max has his own little Harry Potter-like nook, with a sloped ceiling and people who yell at him (me). We travel with resuable Lightening McQueen wall stickers and handmade blankets (from Mike’s Aunt Karen), for an Insta-Max-Lair.

We split the rent evenly into four, since each bedroom has such different features. Our was the “tower” up top with our own bathroom and probably the most privacy and quiet. Below on the right, the Cordileones’ room is the largest, with a gorgeous vaulted ceiling — but they share a bathroom with Tony Freeman (left), who has a smallish room but enjoys the only private lanai.

The Higleys have a sort of lair of their own. It’s the smallest living space in the house as the lowest-level bedroom/bathroom/sitting area, but it opens directly out into the backyard, where they have easy access to a trickling fountain, a hammock they strung up between two trees, and of course the pool and lanai. I don’t have any photos of their rooms, except for this one of Eva on their bed as she posed for her 25-week photo.

Update: Melissa Higley just sent me this view out the French doors from their room. Serene and relaxing.

All of the bedrooms are located in various areas of the house, so it actually doesn’t feel so crowded. The view of the back of the house:

Mornings are usually bustling, and a perfect time for all the families to check in with each other before going about our days. The first week we were here, Amy Cordileone and Tony’s wife Cindi and daughter Tessa were visiting, making it a truly full house. It was so festive to have everyone there.

The dining room is so comfortable and roomy, that we forget that we have two huge dining tables also out on the lanai.

Last but certainly not least, our gourmet kitchen is the heart of the house. We’ve got a wine fridge, a separate ice-maker, and a sub-zero fridge with a see-through door. There is so much storage space and walking room around the center stove island, it’s actually perfect for four cooking families. There’s also a large flat-panel TV in there (not shown).

The living room is gigantic, and we pretty much forget that there’s a TV up on the wall. It barely gets used, as each bedroom has its own TV/DVD player. Usually you can find Max and Milo in the living room battling over toys.

It’s been wonderful having so many helping hands around with my kids! Here, Amy and Eva canoodle by the hottub (Amy’s a bit under the weather here, thus the non-tropical look!).

Kevin reads an Octonauts book to the two resident Octonauts fiends.

We also have good friends visiting, like Lisa Swift out on leave from Motown in New York!

Occasionally, we invite friends over to hottub.  Below, the kids hang out with their friends Liliana and Steven Jr.

These photos are from the first few days we were here, about 3 weeks ago. It does look all glorious, but we’re actually going on our second consecutive week of rain right now in Hawaii. We’ve been stuck inside for a few days. But we’re not complaining — we know that you’re shivering and shielding yourself from some crazy snow on the mainland right now. Stay warm! Friends and family, we wish you were here! Truly and deeply!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

ANGELIQUE February 3, 2014 at 12:11 pm



Casey W. February 3, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Okay now I officially hate you guys 😉

Live it up 🙂


Ken February 3, 2014 at 5:02 pm

When will you guys be back in Texas?

(That is one seriously nice house, by the way. Geez.)


LKF February 3, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Holy hell! I am so happy for all of you to have such nice digs. You all certainly deserve it. Have a mai tai for me in the hot tub. Lion King 4eva!


steve m February 3, 2014 at 8:22 pm

what a truly magnificent place you found! we are all green with envy! have fun.


Maria February 4, 2014 at 12:54 am

OMG!!! Outstanding.


Kathy Vanderhaar February 4, 2014 at 1:12 am

OK my jaw is on the floor. How did you Hollicks manage to score such a nice place? Congrats and enjoy!


Ron February 5, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Always love your blog. Eva is so adorable. Love seeing daddy and daughter just hanging out in the magnificently large living room–love Eva’s hairdo, always. That’s a neat picture denoting the living quarters of all clans included. Max is quite the swimmer, as well–looks so natural in the water, there. Oh, what a kitchen!


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