A little aloha in West Michigan

Hawaiian Design Style fills home with the Aloha spirit
Aloha vibes, photo by Kat Moore

As a home stylist for the last 24 years, it is so rewarding to be able to infuse joy into people’s homes through interior design. After the challenges we have endured over the last several years, I think we can all use a bit more joy in our lives! My goal when working with clients is to not only create a beautiful and functional space, but one that is peaceful, inspiring and uplifting.

Hawaiian landscape, watercolor by Kat Moore

On a personal level, the life experience that brought me the most joy (aside from my own children of course) was living and working in Oahu, Hawaii. It was truly magical; a literal paradise on this earth. The Aloha Spirit is real. Aloha is the Hawaiian word for love, affection, peace, compassion and mercy. To those who are local, it is important to embody Aloha. Therefore it is not a mere word for a greeting or a farewell. Living there was transformative; from the local Hawaiians’ kindness, to their rich traditions of hula, music, luaus, surfing, rowing, art, language, to the natural lush beauty of the islands themselves. I felt so at home there, and a level of wellness that I had not experienced before.

However, after a year there, my family and Midwestern roots pulled me back to Michigan. Even while living in paradise, my heart did ache for my family,. Now I’m here, especially as the days growing colder and grayer, I am missing those sun-kissed days filled with blue skies, even bluer ocean waters, technicolor rainbows, the fragrant aroma of plumerias and the freshness of the beach air. That was my happy place. So, before heading back to the mainland, I decided that I would bring that Aloha back with me.

I have designed my new tiny house (yes, less can be more) in the Hawaiian Design Style. I also moved to Holland so that I could be close to my family and friends in East Lansing and Grand Rapids, yet near the water.

I will forever be grateful for the amazing, magical, transformative year long experience in Hawaii. It has changed me (and my interior design aesthetic) forever. I would love to return some day. But until that day, what is a Midwestern-Island Girl to do when her heart is in two vastly different places? She brings a little Aloha to West Michigan. That’s what she does!

Here are some Hawaiian design elements that anyone can add to their homes to achieve a little more Aloha in their daily life.

1. Living in harmony with nature: I created an outdoor living space, which has a view of water. Outdoor living spaces are a fre- quent and lovely addi- tion in Hawaii. Incorpo- rating light natural mate- rials and elements for fur- niture and accessories. Ex: My live-edge Acacia coffee table with hairpin legs, using shells and artistically shaped weathered wood as ornamentation.

2. Creating a peaceful environment with a natural color palette: I have selected natural white walls with accents in soft blues, light tans, and earthy greens with live plants and succulents. These colors remind me of the blue skies, azure colors of the ocean, beach sand, along with the greens from the lush vegetation.

3. Minimalism: Prior to leaving for Honolulu in 2018, I decided that I did not want to ship all of my furniture and belongings and I no longer wanted to put my household in storage. So I binged on “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” and got to work! No lon- ger at a stage of my life where I need a lot of things, I gifted or sold all but four large suitcases of my sentimental belongings and I was off. I did, however, thank my possessions for their ser- vice, before I released them all, and hoped they would bring their new owners joy. This experience was very lib- erating. I feel much light- er for it, preferring these chapters of my life to be filled with experiences over possessions. Yes, simplicity can be a beau- tiful, mindful approach to design and living.

Hawaii state license plate, photo by Kat Moore

4. Aloha vibes: Additional elements to create chill vibes at home. I like to play Hawaiian music; ex: Jack Johnson, Paula Fuga, Bruddah Iz, and Mike Love, among others. I was lucky to hear many amazing local Hawaiian musicians on the regular there, and fell in love with the ukulele and the hula. Having Plumeria or Ocean Breeze scented candles helps complete the experience. Adding to the ambiance, I have surrounded myself with artifacts from happy moments in Hawaii: cool surfer coasters from Waikiki Brewing Co., a framed hand towel from the Dole Plantation, handmade jewelry and woven beach hats dis- played, along with my beloved Hawaii license plates, a watercolor painting I did while on my favorite Kahala Beach. I even mounted a natural wood surf- board over my sofa, which reminds me of one of my favorite memories; learning to surf on Waikiki Beach from a local Hawaiian surf leg- end, J.R. Ka’eo. Also doing a good Amazon Prime Yoga series filmed on the beach in Hawaii, on the big screen. It takes me right back to my sunset beach yoga days. It fills my heart with happiness. Namaste.

Kat Moore, Interior Designer

Kat Moore has been in the business of Interior Design since 1998. She has a B.S. in Art History from Kendall College of Art & Design, with a concentration in Interior Design and Fine Arts. Email Kat for in-home consultations and online consultations via Zoom at katmoore20@gmail.com.

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