Retro Muse


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The home imparts a vintage Polynesian aesthetic. Since purchasing the property from owner/builder Dan Ruth, the Lussiaas have nearly doubled the size of the house, adding an “entertainment” kitchen and builtin dining nook, great room, staircase, lanai, kitchen, master bedroom and bath and laundry room.

Take off your slippers and step inside the upcountry Kaloko home of Rebekah and Thibert Lussiaa. It won’t take long to recognize that the homeowners are watersports enthusiasts of the highest caliber.

Whether the handcrafted scale-model of a Tahitian canoe hanging from the ceiling, the hundreds of canoe paddles from over the years propped against the side of the house, or the Tahitian paddler paintings by artist Mike Field on the walls, the couple’s home is a reflection of their lifestyle and the ocean sports they love.

“This house is an accumulation of many years of our journey together and how God has blessed us,” says Rebekah. “We both have worked so hard and we have a lot of good friends and family who helped us out along the way.”

Rebekah and Thibert first met in high school at Konawaena. They have been married for 16 years and have two children: their son, Heimata Zion, age 10, and daughter, Vaiana Kelilah, age 6. A Kona-girl born and raised, Rebekah studied sports medicine at UH Manoa, and worked for 10 years as the Athletic Healthcare Trainer at Kealakehe High School. She paddled for Kai ‘Opua Canoe Club for more than 20 years, as well as competed in various running and triathlon races.

Thibert moved to Kona from his native Tahiti when he was a teenager. He eventually became one of the top paddlers in the world, winning almost every big race including the prestigious Moloka‘i Hoe Canoe Race. Wanting to give back to the community, Thibert has coached Kai ‘Opua, Keauhou Canoe Club, and Team Red Bull Wa‘a, and also co-founded Team Livestrong. Last year, he was the head coach for Kai ‘Opua’s men’s team.

Not surprisingly, their home imparts a vintage Polynesian aesthetic. Tucked away on 1.3 acres in Kaloko Mauka above Kailua-Kona, the three-bedroom, three-bath house is plenty big for the Lussiaa’s growing family, but that wasn’t always the case. Since purchasing the property from owner/builder Dan Ruth, the couple has nearly doubled the size of the house, adding an “entertainment” kitchen and built-in dining nook, great room, staircase, lanai, kitchen, master bedroom and bath and laundry room.

“We did a lot of the work ourselves,” says Rebekah. “Our family members, Uncle Rupert Adarme and Tom Gee, helped us out with carpentry, cement and electrical. We used reclaimed and repurposed materials wherever possible. A lot of friends donated supplies and extras.”

In the living room, the cedar wall behind the TV came from a beach house in Puako that was being torn down. Under the TV, the cabinet is made from recycled old windows from a plantation house. A cousin, Dien Short, handcrafted the pune‘e and dining room table from mango. In the kitchen, their friend David Weaver built the beautiful island out of monkeypod. The tigerwood floors and open-beam ceilings bring warm and welcoming accents into the rustic home.

Rebekah and Thibert have a knack for repurposing old things into stylish accessories and furniture. The fun colors and design choices take inspiration from their ocean lifestyle.

“We found the barstools for a great discount and got them re-upholstered with Polynesian fabric,” she says. “The lamps in the living room, I found second-hand, and covered the lampshades with Maohi Tahitian pareos from Papaeete. The wire pendant lights in the kitchen were originally black. We spray-painted them in primary colors.”

An accomplished waterman in his own right, Holualoa artist Mike Field is one of the couple’s longtime best friends. His bold, colorful artwork adorns several rooms of the house. Quite a few of Mike’s paintings are of Thibert himself, which makes the artwork even more personally meaningful. The Lussiaas cite another great friend, Dale Hope, author of The Aloha Shirt: Spirit of the Islands.

“Dale’s house on O‘ahu was so inspiring to me personally when I first stepped into it 25 years ago,” Thibert says.

Influenced by his Tahitian mother and French father, Thibert is an amazing cook who loves to cook in abundance so much so that their dinner guests always take plenty of food home with them after gatherings.

“We do a lot of hosting and entertaining on the lanai,” shares Rebekah. “I’m so lucky that Thibert is a good cook and loves it.”

The couple dubs their home the Mauka-Makai Hale, which references the cool climate of the mountains and the allure of the ocean they frequent almost every day. Inspiration from Tahiti can be found in the master bedroom, designed like a traditional Tahitian hale perched on a crystal-blue lagoon with the bathroom behind the bedroom.

The house is still a work in progress. They eventually want to open up the window to the kitchen and make it a sit-down bar.

“We want people to feel relaxed and at home here,” says Rebekah. “It’s a gathering place to welcome others, to connect people’s lives with memories and quality time together. Life is about relationships and giving back. It’s the people who make this house a home.”

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