This is the first of a three-part series.

When Alan Nelson and his wife, Cyndi Keller, decided to live in Alan’s childhood home, it did not reflect the lifestyle or personal character they had developed as a family. They decided to demolish it and start fresh.

At the BIA Home Building and Remodeling Show in 2010, Alan and Cyndi visited Graham Builders’ booth and signed up for the design+build company’s free “Building Your Home for Life” seminar.


“We attended Graham Builders’ seminar to learn about the home building process,” said Alan. “It was clear Graham Builders was a custom builder, as opposed to a cookie-cutter contractor. (The company’s) seminar was geared toward individual needs.”

Alan and Cyndi subscribe to the philosophy that what is built in the outer world is a mirror of an individual’s inner world, and as Sir Winston Churchill once said, “We shape our dwellings and our dwellings shape us.” The Nelson-Kellers believe in building responsibly and caring for our built environment. They wanted a home that represented each of them personally, while being respectful of their neighbors in the context of their neighborhood.

The goal was to build a home in keeping with the low-key elegance and relaxed waterfront lifestyle of Hawaii Kai. “Graham Builders helped interpret our personal ‘inner world’ into a home that is truly reflective of us as individuals, but not out of line with its environment,” the couple said.

As a result, the modern detailing of the Nelson-Keller home will not compete with island tradition. Stained lattice work on the exterior will add visual warmth while keeping the inside shaded from the sun. The exterior will be clad with cement board on a rain-screen system for added ventilation for the facade.


“This is not your average two-story home,” said Evan Fujimoto, Graham Builders’ president. “We designed a ‘clerestory plan’ that allowed them to achieve the idea of taking vaulted ceilings to the next level.”

Ceilings will measure 13 feet high in the kitchen and 12 feet high in the upstairs hallway. Abundant natural light will brighten the hallway, staircase and most every room in the house. The master bedroom will boast 10-foot ceilings, providing an open and spacious feel that is conducive to Hawaii’s indoor-outdoor lifestyle.

“Graham Builders treated us with respect — no hard sell,” said Alan. “We did our own research and got referrals from friends who had worked with Graham Builders before. Graham Builders has a reputation for excellent work. They really listened to us and accurately interpreted our wishes.”

This story is part one of three that will follow the Nelson-Kellers in their design+build journey, to share their experience in building a new home with Graham Builders. In May we’ll check in with the homeowners and report on the construction process. The completed project will be unveiled in June, so don’t miss it!


Homeowners interested in learning more about the latest trends in design and renovation, as well as multi-generational living and sustainable building, can attend Graham Builders’ upcoming “Building Your Home for Life” seminar Saturday, April 28 from 9 to 11 a.m. at Honolulu Country Club. Seminars are free, but reservations are required. For a full schedule of 2012 seminars or to register, visit or call 593-2808.

CONTACT: 593-2808