Poetry in Motion


See Arch and Bone Structure design a dream home in Maui for a San Francisco couple

Photos by Travis Rowan Photography

“We at See Arch approach design with both the site and the owners’ wishes in equal balance,” says Sarah Ebner, principal of See Arch. “We often ask ourselves how we might find a common language or design aesthetic to satisfy a series of priorities cohesively.” This approach to architecture is evident when studying a home recently completed in Maui for a San Francisco couple that was ready to retire. “The clients were looking for a home that was sophisticated yet simple, that could serve as a neutral backdrop for both the site as well as their own personal art collection,” Ebner recalls. “They wanted to retire comfortably, feeling at home on a property that they have come to love over the years.”

Travertine wall finishes were selected by the client in halls and the two-story entry area. Photos by Travis Rowan Photography.
Cedar ceilings bring warmth to the space, unify stone, tile and darker wood finishes while also emphasizing the visual connection between inside and out. Photos by Travis Rowan Photography.

Having owned the land for decades, the clients were finally ready to realize a dream destination to enjoy in their golden years. “The owners approached the design and build teams with the site already in mind,” she says. “Since the owners purchased it, they have cultivated orchards, a vegetable garden, private residential gardens, and a large horse pasture.”

Dubbed the ‘Haiku House’, the teams collaborated to develop a 6,600 square foot, two-story, L-shaped structure that takes full advantage of the surrounding views. “In the case of the Haiku House, the hilltop site with its ocean views suggested that the interiors focus outward, toward grand vistas and lush Maui gardens,” says Ebner. “The home was the culmination of decades of planning for the owners and so, we felt it should also be monumental and leave an impressive legacy without being overbearing.”

Plywood-formed concrete elements extend from inside to out as the primary retaining material used to terrace up the hill.
Photos by Travis Rowan Photography.
Tile installers bookmatched each travertine tile and installed hand-tinted grout to encourage the tiles to read as one continuous surface. Photos by Travis Rowan Photography.

With any modern build set amongst an encapsulating landscape it can be challenging to create intimate spaces that aren’t fully surrounded by windows. “The home was to have a strong connection to the outdoors while remaining completely climate controlled to preserve the art and architectural finishes within,” says Ebner. “We leaned on window sizing and locations to encourage views outward and play with the relationship the interiors had to their adjacent outdoor spaces.  We worked closely with the owners when laying out the home to identify important art pieces and locations where they could be featured.”

·Wood slats by Sculptform were used both inside and out.  Size, spacing and finish were all carefully selected to provide privacy, textural variation and additional warm to the project. Photos by Travis Rowan Photography.

Because the clients planned to entertain often they wanted the main spaces to be open however they also needed smaller spaces suitable for everyday use. “In the end, we settled on an L-shape plan, with stacked private spaces combined into two stories,” she notes. “Their connecting hall mitigated views from the common area of the home.”

Photos by Travis Rowan Photography

“Like any custom home, this project was years in the making, with the owners incredibly involved in all phases of the work,” Ebner recalls. But once the clients moved in, the See Arch team visited their clients and said, “It seemed like what they had been imagining all these years had finally come to fruition.”