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HOMEOWNERS - Armand Behpour

BUILT - 1997 – 1998

INTERIOR - 7,600 square feet, including guest cottage

BEDROOMS - Five bedroom suites with baths

HIGHLIGHT - The view of the pool, Mauna Lua Bay, and Diamond Head seen through the living room's 18-foot glass panels

FAVORITE SPOT - The peaceful seaside deck — "It's like being on a ship in the middle of the ocean"

Dining Room

A Walkway to the Ocean

Honolulu, Hawaii — This lovely home on the island of Oahu is the culmination of Armand Behpour's lifelong dream to live out his retirement years in a warm tropical climate where gardens bloom year round.

While residing and working in Germany, Armand had made a point of traveling to the United States once each year during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Twenty-five years ago, one of those trips took him to Hawaii, and Armand, an avid gardener, began dreaming of retiring to just such a place.

"In Germany, you plant your garden in late April, and everything starts growing in May. Just when the flowers start to be in full bloom, it's September, and everything stops. Then the frost comes in October, and everything is gone. It's so painful. Here, you can plant year round."


With its floor-to-ceiling glass windows, Armand Behpour's oceanfront home is an exquisite study of light and reflection. Shop Outdoor Décor & Accessories.
A DREAM REALIZED

When he entered retirement, Armand built a house and settled in San Diego. Finding suitable property in Hawaii had seemed an impossible task.

Any available properties were situated on severe slopes where building a house was very difficult and planting a garden nearly impossible. Still, the image persisted of "a house in Hawaii that was very open, and a garden that gave me the possibility to plant a lot of flowers."

And so, over the course of eight months, he made numerous back-and-forth trips to his beloved islands. "I came ten times to Hawaii, looking for land to build. Nine times I found nothing. The tenth time I found it." Armand marveled at his luck. The property was not only situated on the ocean but was also remarkably level — a real rarity in the Hawaiian real-estate market.

There were three structures occupying the site at the time: a house and two outbuildings. The owner repeatedly urged Armand to adopt architectural plans he'd developed utilizing the existing house foundation. Armand refused to compromise.

"I worked very hard my entire life for this time. I was going to spend the rest of my life here, so it was important to realize what I'd been imagining all those years." The buildings were razed.

Acting on a tip from a friend, Armand selected an architect in Los Angeles to bring his dream to fruition. Though he solicited suggestions from several other architects, "I liked this one. I liked the way he drew — it was very artful, very detailed. He took my ideas and made them more beautiful, more precise. And as a human being, he was very nice."

The two of them worked together over the next thirteen months, collaborating every step of the way, from deciding what type of granite to use on kitchen countertops to determining the material to be used in framing the house.

"I came ten times to Hawaii, looking for land to build. Nine times I found nothing. The tenth time I found it."

They settled on steel, fabricated in Los Angeles and shipped to Hawaii. "When they put it together, everything fit!" says Armand. A constructural architect had recommended steel as a termite-proof alternative to wood. Steel also had the advantage of withstanding winds up to 110 mph. "My neighbors came and over and said, 'OK, when the next storm comes, we come to your house.'"

Armand also relishes the story of the container holding 5,000 square feet of marble flooring that was shipped from the West Coast and placed on the street in front of the construction site. "The container was so heavy," he chuckles, "it poked holes in the asphalt."

Building wasn't without its challenges. Anticipating that his house would be ready in November, Armand moved from San Diego to Hawaii shortly after construction got underway in May 1997. The finish date was soon moved back to Christmas, then February. The house finally reached completion in July.

Meanwhile, Armand visited the site every day, noting that, true to the relaxed atmosphere of the islands, work proceeded at a very leisurely pace. At the same time, costs for material and labor exceeded original projections, in part because local ordinances required that rocks and sand be added to the property to raise its elevation to two feet above sea level.


Floors and staircases are paved with 5,000 square feet of marble, and were shipped
to Armand from Los Angeles. Shop Indoor Décor & Furnishings.

The deck of this beautiful island home overlooks the Mauna Lua Bay. Sitting there with the water moving toward you, says Armand, "makes you feel as if you're on a ship in the middle of the ocean.

PERSONAL TOUCHES INSIDE AND OUT

In keeping with Armand's vision, the home's interior is light and open and airy, conveying the impression that you're actually outdoors. Ceilings soar to eighteen feet in the entrance and living room, as do panels of glass offering exquisite views of Diamond Head. Since building codes mandated a forty-foot setback from the ocean, "we had room to run the pool from the house to ocean," explains Armand. "The pool is really a continuation of the house, leading your eye to the ocean and beyond to Diamond Head."

Armand's reverence for nature is evident everywhere you look. "I love the outdoors," he says, "and I love the sun." (Armand sent a picture of one especially memorable sunset, photographed through the glass panels in his living room, to a friend in Germany. In response, she asked, "How did you put such a big picture on those walls?" It's not a picture, Armand told her — it's a real sunset. "She couldn't believe such a thing existed," he says.)

Recessed ceilings throughout the house are painted to resemble various aspects of the glorious Hawaiian sky. Every room has a different theme. The master suite depicts sunrise with golden rays suffusing the clouds. In the entryway are various shades of strawberry, as if the sun were burning the clouds. The family room replicates the setting sun, while reds and purples in the dining room portray a particularly vivid sunset.

Marble flooring that flows onto the patio from inside the house is inlaid with a black-granite sun motif, and the same design — rays radiating from a half circle — is repeated on the roof. Cool ocean breezes, often laden with the fragrance of plumeria, circulate throughout the house. "I never sleep with the windows closed," Armand says.

Although Armand worked with a designer in decorating his home in San Diego, here in Hawaii he tackled the job himself. "I'm retired," he says. "I had time."

Most of the furnishings and appointments were acquired in Los Angeles, though the dining room table and chairs accompanied him from Germany, as did a hundred-year-old painting of a birch forest originally purchased by his parents at an art exhibition in 1920. His most recent acquisition is the living room's seven-foot antique Louis XIV tapestry found in France last September.

PLEASURES OF DAILY LIVING

Armand's aim in moving to Hawaii was simple: to make life as pleasurable as possible. And nowhere does Armand find life more pleasing than on the cantilevered oceanside deck. "It's the best place of all," he says. "When you sit there and look out over the water with the current moving toward you, you feel as if you're on a ship in the middle of the ocean." He sits on the deck every morning when the air is cool, and again in the evening, enjoying the view and the quiet. "It's very, very peaceful."


A photograph Armand had seen in a catalog inspired him to drape the bed in
soft, flowing fabric. Shop Bed & Bath.

Armand says he was lonely when he first relocated to Hawaii. The opportunity to use his home for commercial photo shoots and location films soon proved to be a welcome source of entertainment. Open-air dances on the marble patio are another of his enjoyments.

And then there is his primary passion — gardening. In this gardener's paradise, Armand at last has the opportunity to fulfill his lifelong dream of gardening year-round. He served as his own landscape architect, which meant conducting extensive research to familiarize himself with the Hawaiian flora.

"I went to a lot of nurseries," says Armand. "I had to learn about haleconia and red ginger and white ginger and yellow ginger, to know what they need and when they bloom. I planted plumeria — such a beautiful, soft fragrance — and bougainvillea, which blooms all year long. I planted so something is always in bloom. The tuberose smells heavenly. Noting that the Hawaiian air is always redolent with the fragrance of flowers, he adds, "The minute you arrive at the airport, just the air makes you feel so relaxed."

Though this is the fifth house Armand has built, "it's the first that came out exactly as I wanted." Was the outcome worth all the effort? "Yes, definitely," he says. "I am fortunate to have realized what I imagined." His Realtor suggested that he sell the house for twice what it cost, then build another. "I told him you can give me four times the price, and I wouldn't move. Living here gives me so much peace and enjoyment."

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