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Unique Big Island Real Estate: The Onion House

Unique Big Island Real Estate: The Onion House

Internationally renowned architects from all over the world come to the Big Island to get inspired by the natural beauty and leave their mark on this unique landscape. The Onion House, designed and constructed by Kendrick Bangs Kellogg, is a rare, creative gem built during the 1960’s that perfectly marries art, architecture, and Hawaiian scenery. Once lost to the jungle, this gorgeous estate was fully renovated, updated, and is now on the market. Here are a few things that make The Onion House one of the most spectacular Big Island homes.

A Unique History

The Onion House was originally constructed by Elizabeth von Beck, affectionately known as Auntie Dofeen. She was the slightly eccentric daughter of a sea captain and the niece of the McCormick spice company mogul. Inspired by the natural beauty of the Big Island, she wanted to build a home that was in harmony with the surrounding natural environment. Thus, the Onion House was born. When Auntie Dofeen left the island years later to go on an extended sailing expedition, the home was lost to the wild Hawaiian vegetation. Local bohemians soon made the structure their hangout. Eventually, Beth McCormick—Auntie Dofeen’s niece—can and reclaimed the home from the jungle. Now, fully renovated, The Onion House is a luxury home a true slice of Hawaiian paradise anything else on the island.

An Incredible Retreat

This three bedroom, two bath home has a look that is almost as eclectic as its history. Light streams into the entire structure through stained glass windows—created by artist James Hubbel—and translucent roof panels. The property sits raised on a rock wall within nearly an acre of land that is lush with tropical plants, trees, and flowers. An assortment of fruits including honey tangerines, pomelos, Valencia oranges, lemons, mangoes, loquats, and more grow right in the back yard.

From the lifted terrace, there are spectacular, expansive ocean views. A 70ft turquoise pool sits between the separate master bedroom and the main quarters. From the master bedroom, a covered outdoor path leads to the private, walled-in meditation garden. The main structure includes two smaller bedrooms, a bathroom, a dining area, and a kitchen that is equipped with everything needed to cook up tasty island dishes.

During the renovation, every possible measure was taken to restore the home to its former glory. Major updates were made to the pool including treatment of any rust, the addition of rustic Italian tile to the pool and step risers, as well as the addition of LED lights. The roof was repaired and waterproofed, all appliances were updated, and the Koa wood cabinets were restored. All furnishings and screens were also replaced.

While one would rarely want to leave such an oasis, if it’s time to stock up on necessities, town is only a few minutes away. The Onion Home is a convenient five minutes from Kona and is also close to the local beaches.  

Want to call this lovely property your slice of island paradise? We don’t blame you. It will be on sale soon! Contact us here or call (808) 217-8500 for more info. We’d love to show you around this truly one of a kind piece of real estate. You can also pursue some photos of this incredible home here.

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