Ocean Pointe Kitchen: From Cookie Cutter Drab to Coastal, White, & Fab
It’s hard for me to believe that I moved to Ocean Pointe almost 10 years ago after our first baby (and all of his gear) had us bursting at the seams at our condo in Mililani Mauka. My husband and I barely lived in that condo for a full year when my heart started yearning for something so preciously scarce on this island that I dared not dream it was attainable – space.
Our adorable newborn came into this world weighing just 8lbs and 9oz, but the crib, the changing table, the stroller, the swing, the bouncer, the highchair, and the new van to cart it all were taking up more space than our sleek condo could handle.
One day I was awkwardly stepping over baby gear and contorting myself to get past furniture on the way to the bathroom, when it dawned on me that the baby would soon be crawling…But, where?
Let the House Hunting Begin
I had heard about the new developments in Ewa Beach, but whenever it was mentioned in polite conversation, there were always more reasons why you shouldn’t than why you should. “Sure you can get a big house in Ewa, but it’s so far and it’s so hot and the TRAFFIC!”
Despite all the disclaimers, my motherly instincts had me drive out to the model homes anyway. My first impression of Ocean Pointe was that it reminded me of neighborhoods on the mainland, with new construction, manicured lawns, and the ease of moving into a house that needed nothing more than personal touches. As I looked around, each model seemed to be preaching to me a sermon promising sweet, sweet space, and at that time, I was a very cramped choir.
My mind was made up, and I knew convincing my husband would be as simple as a nonchalant Sunday drive to the model homes. That very Sunday I convinced him to go for a drive. Somehow we wound up at the model homes in Ocean Pointe. I persuaded him to go in – you know, for “decorating ideas.”
After a life-affirming tour of the models, we miraculously found ourselves on a golf cart with a sales rep to look at houses nearing completion. Houses that had a yellow piece of paper in the window were marked as claimed. As we were making our way to the latest development we passed a house that was already completed that sat right across the street from a cute little park (that was perfect for crawling.) It had a Cape Cod meets Hawaii look and there was no yellow paper in the window. I inquired about its availability. The rep told us that the house had just fallen out of escrow, but that another family was in the office reserving it at that very moment. He reluctantly said we could take a look if we wanted to, even though it was a waste of time.
The heavens parted and cast a halo around the house as we parked in the back alley. The sales rep mentioned that it had been built on a pie-shaped lot and opened the back gate to reveal a massive backyard (by Hawaii standards.) My husband and I stood in awe. We wandered around the yard for a bit with our mouths gaped open in disbelief. Just as I was thinking about hiring a hitman to take out the family that was back at the office reserving it, the sales rep opened the back door and let us into the kitchen…Cancel that hit.
My heart sank, the cabinets were made from faux pine laminate and the backsplash was a Tuscan beige with a floral accent. I tried to reconcile why someone would have made these choices for a house that was screaming, “BEACH COTTAGE!” The rep pointed out that the backsplash was a bonus because it was an upgrade the people who had just fallen out of escrow had added. I asked if we could undo the damage that was done? The rep told us absolutely not. Bear in mind, this was in 2007 before the market fell through. For every available house on the market there were 10 unqualified buyers competing for it. I decided to move on.
The next house we looked at had no backyard, the one after that was too close to the neighbor’s and everything else was not going to be completed for another 6-9 months. Baby would be one-year-old by then and still not crawling because of our cramped living situation. Suddenly, the faux wood cabinets and clashing Tuscan-inspired backsplash didn’t seem so horrible.
Back at the office we looked at the plot map, and sure enough, a red thumbtack staking their claim had been stabbed into the cute little house on the park. Oh my heart.
We decided on a new build and baby would just have to wait to learn to crawl. My only consolation was that I could choose the kitchen finishes. We reserved a plot by providing a check and the next day I came back to the office to drop off our qualifying docs. (Please note: your real estate agent can still represent you at a model home office, just make sure they visit with you the FIRST time you go to see models. It’s always good idea to have someone in your corner and there is no cost to you.) As I passed by the plot map of the neighborhood, I noticed a gap in the sea of red thumbtacks. I let out a gasp. It was the beach cottage!
Six weeks later we moved into our little beach cottage and it was perfect, except for the kitchen. I tried different paint colors on the wall to try and make it look beachier. First, it was a light sea aqua, then an ashy blue, and finally I settled on a griege just to blend it into the wall.
We lived in that house for close to eight years and I never got over it. Every time I went in the kitchen I thought of who those people might have been and why they chose those finishes. It never quite felt like it was mine.
As the children grew bigger and bigger, our perfect beach cottage (except for the kitchen) seemed to be shrinking smaller and smaller. The urge to move was stirring inside of me again and this time it was stronger than ever. Soon, I fell in love. A four bed, three bath house came on the market just a few streets over and few doors down from some of our best friends. This time I forced my husband to come to the open house – just to look, you know, for “decorating ideas.”
We both agreed the house was perfect…except for the kitchen. The kitchen had been painted a mustard yellow and the maple laminate cabinets looked very orange against the mustard. The appliances were white and in good shape. The countertops were black, speckled Corian (popular about 10 years ago), and the backsplash was a plain white tile but layed in a pattern that I did care for.
I could live with the appliances and the countertops, but everything else had to go. We really liked the house, but the kitchen was a deal breaker. I did not want to move into another house with kitchen regret.
A few weeks later, we noticed the house was still on the market. First of all, we couldn’t believe it. Second, we thought we knew why – the kitchen. Since we had both been thinking about the house pretty much non-stop since our visit to Open House, ugly kitchen or not, this was the house. We had to make it work. So, we made our move.
Upon acquiring the house, we had a little over a week before moving day. Time to paint. We had toyed with the idea of doing all the painting ourselves, but when we worked out the cost we would save in marriage counseling from our last DIY project, versus what the painter was charging, we decided it was well worth the money to have it painted professionally. We hired a painter who had experience doing cabinets and worked out a deal to have all the walls and the cabinets painted. It was the best money we ever spent.
I chose Sherwin Williams Snowbound for the cabinets and Benjamin Moore’s Jute for the walls. We picked out some white subway tile at Lowe’s and a family friend installed it for the cost of a homemade lasagna dinner. I found the light fixture over the sink at Home Depot and the one over the table at West Elm. Just paint, some new tile, new light fixtures, and new hardware have made this cookie cutter builder’s kitchen look like a custom kitchen. Finally! I had my beach cottage kitchen!
It’s Easier Than You Think!
Looking back at our first Ocean Pointe home, you might be wondering why we didn’t just do the same thing?
Well, we had our reasons, two to be exact. Chasing a toddler and taking care of a newborn didn’t leave home renovations very high on the list of priorities (or the budget). But, after making those simple changes to our second home in the neighborhood, I can’t believe I had lived all those years with a kitchen I hated.
Transforming these kitchens is easier than you may think! All it takes is a little vision and a lot of paint (and perhaps a friend who lays tile and loves lasagna).