Come with me and I will tell you the story of The Liljestrand House which is a masterpiece of both mid-century modern and Hawaiian design. This is part one of a 3 part post (part 2 and part 3 here). The house is just that wonderful.
First, a little about the architect, Vladimir Ossipoff. He was a Russian, raised in Japan, educated at Berkeley and eventually practiced architecture in Hawaii almost his entire career. There is a book written on Ossipoff called Hawaiian Modern: The Architecture of Vladimir Ossipoff (Honolulu Academy of Arts). Dean Sakamoto was one of the principle contributors to the book and also was on our small, private tour, another unexpected surprise.
In 2007 and 2008, respectively, The Liljestrand House was listed on the Hawaii State and the United States National Registers of Historic Places.
The home is located up a "hill" at 3300 Tantulus Drive, Honolulu, HI with magnificent views of the Punchbowl, Diamond Head, Waikiki and Pearl Harbor. See the red "A" in the middle of the picture
You enter via a code through a private gate, and go down a long drive.
|Roosters are everywhere in Hawaii. Oddly.|
What opens up as you step into the house is anything but unassuming. The home is perfectly architected for the mid-fifties, the tropical climate, and the demanding needs of a family of six-- a doctor, his wife and their four children (two boys and two girls).
Betty and Howard Liljestrand contracted Ossipoff in the early fifties for construction of the home. Dr. Howard Liljestrand was a physician for the plantations. His wife Betty (a registered nurse), supervised the construction project, and was probably the primary interface with Ossipoff and his crew. She was onsite for much of the construction of the home. Our tour was given by Bob Liljestrand who was one of the sons and grew up in the home. His personal anecdotes about the home made this tour one of the most special of any I have taken.
|Bob Liljestrand beginning our magical tour. He is standing in front of a John Kjargaard painting.|
Another artist for me to covet.
The home was green before green was "cool." Ossipoff used local materials including a locally felled Mokeypod tree, redwood, corrugated aluminum roofing, sugarcane material for ceiling tiles and other common building supplies. It appears Ossipoff had access to a plethora of Japanese woodworkers (perhaps some sort of post WWII confluence and the fact Ossipoff spoke fluent Japanese) who created intricate cabinetry and woodwork abound throughout this home.
Let's begin the tour:
Front car port and circular driveway.
Beautiful front door.
Artwork immediately inside.
A marriage belt. At this point I have to apologize as this home was filled with original artwork collected by the Liljestrands. I do not have excellent notes on all the artists and/or countries of origin.
This is one of the many amazing views at the Liljestrand house -- over downtown Waikiki immediately in front. The sun would set approximately in this direction.
Ossipoff requested that Dr. Lljestrand find a guava branch with three points up and three points down to construct this table. It has a plexi glass top because Ossipoff didn't like the green cast from the edge of glass slabs.
Ossipoff designed and arranged for construction of much of the furniture in the home.
Seating arrangement in the living room. The primary residence is not being lived in any longer and is staged perfectly, as if you were walking into it while Betty was running the home. Various Lilestrand children occupy guest quarters on the property.
Supposedly Ossipoff made horrible fireplaces in terms of smoke removal. You probably hardly ever need to light a fire in Hawaii. Just for show?
Stunning dining room with seating for ten. These are famous Danish chairs of which I have two reproductions but can't remember what they are.
This built in cabinet in the dining room (built-ins abound), housed an impressive collection of mid-century modern china. The dishes on the left were used in a photo shoot for House Beautiful in 1958, and the magazine gifted the dishes to the Liljestrands after the shoot (perhaps to help authenticity).
From here let's travel to the kitchen which is a wonderful multi-utility room off the dining room and was clearly a central activity station for Betty Liljestrand.
And what a kitchen. It overlooks a beautiful patio and views of the pool and Diamond Head and is outfitted with every modern convenience. It has not been kept as a total time capsule, because over the years a dishwasher and microwave were added. But the cook-top and one of the stoves are original.
The stainless steel counter-top is perfect. I didn't ask about the wood for the cabinets but they could easily be made of plywood or another local wood. The home was not extravagant in materials choices. The range is a seven-burner affair. Mrs. Liljestrand clearly did lots of entertaining.
This dish shelf is original to the home and is sculptural as well as functional.
The kitchen table is expandable.
Here is a photo of Mrs. Liljestrand in the kitchen, with her four children. Our tour guide, Bob, is the tall gentleman standing to her left.
Pantry with scales and bins.
I do not have a good picture of this, but if you look at the bank of drawers to our right of the door, notice how many knobs you see (I count six). Mrs. Liljestrand designed boards that would pull out that she used as step stools to reach the higher cabinets. And this particular bank of drawers had a board that pulled out stool height for Bob's youngest brother to sit on. The Liljestrands only ever had three kitchen stools and there were four children. These amazing facts come from our tour guide, Bob.
Betty's kitchen work station. She was active on many charities. What surprises are in these cabinets!
Both a typewriter and gift wrap station.
Betty's Rolodex drawer.
Tour guide Bob gently mocked the gift wrap station. I drooled. What women doesn't want a gift wrap station?
Another fabulous painting.
Fabulous corner cabinet.
In the cabinets near the office workstation, there was a sewing machine stashed, with bobbins all ready to go. Mrs. Liljestrand worked right out of the cabinet. Her stool was made just a little higher to reach. You can see it tucked in to the left under the machine base.
And here is a photo of her pantry. That's right - two freezers and enough canned goods for six months. The Liljestrands were well prepared for any calamity. Remember this home was built only about ten years after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
There is a great video from Honolulu Magazine that explains much about the architectural uniqueness of the Liljestrand home and how it "respects its site. "
Stay tuned. Links to two more posts regarding the Liljestrand House coming soon!