The view from Oprah's veranda

Photo by Michel Arnaud, styling by Carlos Mota

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Ellie and Oprah flew to Hawaii a few months later. "I saw a small porch, a kitchen that needed work, a master bedroom that did not face the view and had a low ceiling, and no connection between inside and outside," Ellie says. "The original plan was to do a quick job on the house then think about building the ultimate Hawaii homestead."

What started as a small renovation soon turned into a major project. Architectural designer Jeff Wooley, of John B. Murray Architect, rejiggered the quirky floor plan to create less-angular rooms and then, with the help of T.M.C. General Contracting Inc. and a team of craftsmen, stripped the house to its basic structure, moved the staircase, raised the ceiling of the master bedroom, installed French doors throughout, and wrapped the whole with a wonderfully wide veranda—a great place to sit and soak up the sweeping view.

The generous wraparound porch looks as if it's been part of the house forever. The outdoor furniture from Weatherend matches the railing's simple lines.