Interiorssneak peeks

A Home Rooted in Hawaiian Heritage

by Garrett Fleming

Darren Namaye of  needed to create a space that would be warm and rela not only after a long day, but after a long flight. Splitting his time in his home state of Hawaii and New York City has Darren racking up the frequent flyer miles, and means his aesthetic is a truly unique mix of breezy influences and modern, clean design. A friend of Darren’s discovered Concord Village — what most people consider the last great deal in NYC — and he was hooked. The location was perfect, but Darren knew he would have to start from scratch when he moved into the one-bedroom unit. He just couldn’t resist the Manhattan views, though, and saw the potential the second he stepped foot into the space. A new coat of floor stain, a custom banquette and a totally updated kitchen brought the 50s-era home to this century in a snap. It was no easy feat, however. While design setbacks were minimal, it was the home’s decor that Darren found challenging. “I second guessed everything: Paint the walls white? Grey? Should I go Scandinavian? All neutrals and minimal? I went with my gut and…while I love Scandinavian and minimal interiors I also love the idea of warmth and coziness; a space that would help me relax after a day in the city,” Darren explains. “Growing up in Hawaii, I was influenced by water and I have always gravitated towards a cottage aesthetic and coastal vibe. I also wanted touches of Hawaii here and there coupled with Japanese farmhouse influences.”

At 27 years young, I still haven’t been to the Hawaii that Darren so lovingly speaks of. Having grown up so close to the Mexican-American border, it was always those beaches that called my family when it was time for a little R&R. What draws me to Darren’s home is that it gives me a glimpse into a culture and style that I am not knowledgeable about. One that’s far more subtle and restrained than the stereotypical “Hawaii” we mainlanders think is the standard. With a breakfast nook you’ll never forget, the most envy-inducing indigo gingham I’ve ever seen, and nods to Darren’s childhood in Hawaii, this apartment proves that you may be miles away, but you never truly leave home. Enjoy! —

All photos by  and Anna Tan

The Living Room: "I love the r painting... I think it brings Hawaii into the space and helps warm up the room," Darren says. Japanese accessories, mid-century style and a Hawaiian flare create a space truly unique to Darren.
The full demo of Darren's home took three months. "Sleeping on a couch was getting old so I was anxious to move in." He even went without a bathtub as he kept finding cracks in the tubs sent by the manufacturer. What he thought would be a couple weeks turned into 2.5 months! Seven tubs later, he finally found the perfect unblemished piece. Side table by Serena & Lily.
This "faux bois" - French for "false wood" - bookcase is ceramic and from Paris. "It looks like real wood and the organic feel of it adds to that earthiness I like but (is still) refined. It is the perfect place to showcase pieces that I love." Nods to Darren's Hawaiian roots round out this sunny and joyful vignette.
The built-in bookshelves were cleverly designed to cover old radiators.
The Breakfast Nook: "The banquette is the heart of my apartment. I put my bag on it when I come home, I go through the mail on it, eat on it, work on it. It is an extension of the kitchen and vice versa," Darren says.
Saarinen Tuli Table by Design Within Reach. Pendant light fixture by Restoration Hardware and rope tray by Doug Johnston.
The banquette even offers shelving for a few of Darren's favorite things: plants, art and candles.
The Kitchen: Darren worked with to craft the look of the custom, built-in seating. At one point, Darren had been talked out of the banquette, but friends reassured him that he absolutely needed it as it was the one thing that Darren immediately envisioned when he moved in. So he followed his gut and doesn't have a single regret.
"I am a believer that smaller kitchens function better. This is perfect for one person. It has everything at my fingertips with top-notch appliances. It is a true working kitchen," Darren explains. Runner by Chilewich. Refrigerator by Leibherr.
Caesarstone "London Grey" countertops.
"I love ceramics and this is where I can add personality to the kitchen. Shameless plug: I get to show off some of my nephew's pottery."
The Bedroom: "I love the white-washed look of the bed frame," Darren says. "Feels like Hawaii to me."
The cottage-style bedding, "goes hand in hand with a place to sleep." Bedding by , Muji and Les Toiles du Soleil. Monoprint by .
Darren decided he would paint the walls, "a warm, almost sand-colored white to accentuate the idea of a beach."
Darren again mixes styles here with nods to Hawaii through art by Robert Sasaki, a map of NYC and mid-century aesthetics.

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  • Love the mix of types of shots and also showing the floorplan. Soooo much easier to get an idea of the layout. It’s frustrating to see just vignettes, even if beautifully created, and not be able to conceive of the entire space as well.

    • Sandra

      We hear your complaints and have been trying to get a wider range of shots for a while now, please hang in there with us while we work on getting those (and more) from everyone coming up.


  • What a beautiful apartment! I love how clean, light, but comfortable it feels. The use of the space is brilliant and efficient too. It seems to me he’s right, the banquette was indispensable. It pays to follow your instincts!

  • This space makes me want to go back to Hawaii. I love everything about this space. Your nephew’s pottery is also gorgeous.

  • I just LOVE the idea of putting a large potted plant on top of a vintage stool! I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with a solution for a large potted plant that I have and this is so perfect!

  • Mahalo Michelle. That was the idea when I come home every day, especially in the winter.

    Lisa, it is Benjamin Moore’s White Down (OC-131) Just a toucher warmer than my white trim.

    Megan, the stool needed something to do so I gave him a job. LOL.

    Laura, the little painting is of Hilo Bay on the Big Island, painted by a self-taught farmer at the local farmers market. I loved it the minute I saw it.

  • Aloha e Darren, love all the local touches, especially glass fishing balls and yamabushi tengu painted tray; also love the beautiful simplicity and color of the pottery. I too commute between Hawai‘i and the East Coast – any travel tips? Mahalo for the touch of home.

  • Lovely place! Reading about your search for a tub it would be nice to see how the bathroom turned out. Greetings from Sweden!

  • Mahalo Cathie for the sweet comments. You really picked up on the touches of Hawaii. I didn’t want to go overboard. Hope you can be in Hawaii during the East Coast winters! I will be there for all of May. Maybe I will find something new for my hale.

    Aloha – Darren

  • Susanne – Thank you. Bathroom turned out great. Classic white subway tile floor to ceiling, stone floor tiles, twin marble niches in shower and above toilet, Duravit floating vanity/sink and Robern medicine cabinet.

  • This is a beautiful home…I love the styling, artwork, etc.. Can you share the source of the NY map? I’ve seen these a lot lately but can’t find them online.

  • What a warm and beautiful home with so many thoughtful touches. Do you mind sharing where the navy and white stripe sofa pillows from?

  • Rachel – Thank you! Pillows are blk and white stripes…. Crate & Barrel

    Andrea – Actually only the small terra cotta colored one is his. He is still working on it. The others are Hasami (coffee cup), black tea cup (Mirena Kim).

  • so impressed by how every inch of space was used! i could tell the apartment was small, and then i saw the floorplan, and was even more blown away by the attention to function and detail. that it is also very beautiful is the icing on this delicious cake!

  • Aloha, just love all your choices, great job! Can you tell me where I can get a Pegge Hopper print? Mahalo!

  • Mona – Thank you! It’s not a big kitchen at all but it functions so well and is more than enough to cook a meal (for 4 people max)

    Emily – Thank you. I credit my friend, the brilliant architect Richard Moschella and his design asst Kristin Nothwehr to maximize the space, all driven by the banquette.

    Aloha Gail! Mahalo. Check out
    Tough to pick one… so many beautiful ones to pick from.

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