When Thoughtful Design Makes the Difference

This blog post is a collaboration between myself and the seller of the unit at Diamond Head @ Pualei, Lelani, Elyn Yao. Elyn is a very special client and friend. She has the unique ability to visualize a project from start to finish, and the followthrough and tenacity to seek out the best at their craft to make that vision a reality. She is a curator of good design in her own right and believes wholeheartedly in the concept of better living through design. Her view is very similar to mine, a “design everything” mantra. To say that we see eye to eye is an understatement, and what she has done with this unit is nothing short of amazing. Her detailed thoughtful remodeling process and our focused marketing allowed us to find a like-minded Buyer, and also set a record-high sale in the building.

Nestled at the base of Diamond Head Crater, Pualei Circle’s Diamond Head Leilani is known for its enviable location and stunning views. However, one condo unit within this prestigious building achieved a groundbreaking milestone in Honolulu’s real estate history. Its exceptional design not only set it apart from the rest but also propelled its price to exceed $1 million. Read more about this record-breaking sale and how a DIY designer, owner and surfer transformed this dated Diamond Head condo into a midcentury modern surf shack.

The Allure of Pualei Circle’s Diamond Head Leilani

Living in Pualei Circle’s Diamond Head Leilani is a coveted dream for many. The proximity to the beach and the iconic Diamond Head Crater makes it an idyllic spot for surfers and beach enthusiasts. The unique architecture of the condominium building, with its open floor plans and floor-to-ceiling windows, offers residents generous outdoor living spaces and an abundance of natural light.

colorful rug in living room of oahu condo

A Vision Realized

For one resident, living in Diamond Head Leilani was not just a dream—it was a long-held vision that became a reality in 2018. This resident, captivated by the “surf bug,” recognized Pualei Circle as the perfect location to pursue her passion. She purchased a top-floor, two-level unit and embarked on a nine-month renovation journey to transform it into her Midcentury Modern Surf Shack.

midcentury modern style living room in diamond head oahu condo

Blending Preservation and Modernization

Preserving the unique design and open floor plan, the resident breathed new life into her home by infusing it with modern style and functionality. The result is a harmonious blend of the past and present, where the charm of the original architecture intertwines seamlessly with contemporary elements, including custom woodwork throughout the unit and SMEG appliances. The condo now stands as a testament to the resident’s love for surfing and midcentury modern design.

enlosed lanai

modern kitchen with smeg appliances

A Personal Surf Art Gallery

Every piece of art within this “surf shack” holds personal significance, rooted in the resident’s own surf experiences. From the meticulously crafted pink surfboard, which was personally shaped by Gerry Lopez, to the curated artwork collected during surf trips, each item tells a story. The minimalist style of the decor beautifully complements the condo’s unique design, fostering a serene and inviting atmosphere.

surf shack condo on oahu

A Record-Breaking Sale

The exceptional design and personalized touches of this surf shack set it apart from other condos in Diamond Head Leilani. The market recognized its value, resulting in a groundbreaking sale that exceeded $1 million for the first time in the history of Pualei Circle. This achievement not only reflects the resident’s vision and passion but also highlights the significance of design in real estate.

drawing of kitchen plan

Owner’s visualization projected onto kitchen drywall

bedroom before renovation

Photos of the unit before the extensive remodeling

living room before renovation


This Pualei Circle condo in Diamond Head Leilani stands as a testament to the transformative power of design. Through a passion for surfing and midcentury modern aesthetics, one resident turned a dated condo into a captivating surf shack. This exceptional design not only set a new price record in the building but also created a haven that perfectly reflects the resident’s lifestyle and love for the ocean. It serves as an inspiration, illustrating the profound impact of design in elevating the value and desirability of a property, even in a challenging market.

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