'Renovation Aloha': Tristyn & Kamohai Kalama on HGTV's New Show Set in Hawaii (2024)

It takes a village, especially when you’re working to acquire and transform homes that need some TLC in the ridiculously expensive state of Hawaii. Luckily for Tristyn and Kamohai Kalama, stars of the new HGTV series Renovation Aloha, they have a large family including 87 first cousins. Many of them happen to be contractors, cabinet makers, garbage collectors, contractors, assistants, and everything in between.

Through the eight-episode season, which premieres February 20, the duo rely on ohana as they take on some of the most challenging projects of their career. They collectively work to turn dilapidated properties into dream homes that match the picturesque surroundings for single and multigenerational families. Adding to the heavy lift is the want to maintain the bones or framing of the old houses.

During the premiere, the couple stretches their budget and sanity bringing a rundown property in Kalihi Valley back to life. The home built in the early 1960s was vacant for 20 years, which one could imagine comes with a slew of problems like a tree inside! We caught up with the Kalamas to chat about their family business and the challenges they face.

'Renovation Aloha': Tristyn & Kamohai Kalama on HGTV's New Show Set in Hawaii (1)


How long have you been in the business?

Kamohai Kalama: We got started in 2018. We would consider ourselves babies in the industry. We’ve been in it for a little while, but my wife and I have entrepreneurial backgrounds. My brother and I had three retail store locations. We closed those down and got into real estate. My wife owned and operated a nonprofit. She still is on the board for it, but one of the common threads we both realized was what we were doing wasn’t going to allow us to stay in Hawaii. That’s how we found real estate.

How would you describe your working dynamic?

Tristyn Kalama: I always say our first date wasn’t actually a date. It was an interview. I think we were both at a point in our lives where we knew exactly what we wanted and what we wanted in a partner. So the expectations and our relationship clicked from the beginning. Wherever I have faults. Wherever I am weak, he is strong, and vice-versa. I think we have fun at the end of the day. We can make each other laugh. We love each other endlessly. It just works. I think we’re pretty blessed to be in a situation where we can work together. I grew up in a household where both my parents worked together. So, it wasn’t something abnormal to me. I always watched my parents run a business together and saw how that dynamic worked. It became second nature to me.

'Renovation Aloha': Tristyn & Kamohai Kalama on HGTV's New Show Set in Hawaii (2)


People have gone to Hawaii to vacation. They may see this resort-style living. But with your show, we’re learning about culture and inner places. There are these areas with amazing views and landscapes that have old houses that need some serious attention. How is it for you to bring this to the forefront at HGTV?

Kamohai: We feel blessed. I think at the end of the day you hit the nail on the head. People come to Hawaii to vacation. For us, this is home. This is where my family has been for 64 generations. This is where I’m going to raise my kids. This is where we find these very dilapidated houses, sometimes unlivable. I think we are in a unique place because we’re surrounded by the ocean, so our homes just get beat up. They are very succumbing to the natural elements. I think because of who we are and where we are from. We have the capability to find these homes and breathe aloha back into them in the most beautiful place, without changing them too much. Paying homage to the community and neighborhood these houses are in, but then bringing a product to life the local community can be proud of.

Tristyn: I think it’s not transactional with us. It’s very relationship-based. In Hawaii, we love people. People are everything. Family is everything. We’re dealing with not only four walls and a roof, but we’re dealing with human beings. We’re dealing with problems that a person is facing and trying to be a solution to that person and place and to that house.

You tackle a huge project right from the premier. This first house has so many issues. I looked at it saying to myself, “I don’t know how they are going to pull this off.”

Tristyn: We didn’t either, dude [laughs].

Kamohai: This first episode is really a banger. We’ll be completely transparent here. It was one of the worst houses we’ve ever done. But there are so many cool things that happen in this episode. It also fits as the lead-up to what the rest of this show is. Our goal is we’re trying to build a business here and create something special for our families. Along the way, we’re also including a bunch of people within the community around us and elevating those people. In the end, we’re putting a family into this house that is then going to be able to enjoy it for generations.

You see this house with so many challenges, not only with the condition, but there is also trying to find the materials for the house. We live on an island. If we’re special ordering something, that causes a ton of delays. So you see that and then you see the creative process of us trying to figure out what is the best use for this house and the person that is going to be buying it. Here in Hawaii, multi-generational living is so important because it allows you to pull money together. Bring a family together as they all pull their resources together to have these different living areas. Or you buy the house but rent one side out and you live on the other side. It helps offset your mortgage. A lot of what you’re going to see with the episodes happens in this very first one.

You work with a lot of your 87 cousins in different aspects of your business. How is it working with family?

Tristyn: I think some days are easier than others, but at the end of the day, family is the backbone. Family is the foundation. And family is an unbreakable relationship. You can always count on family. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to work alongside family. My brother is our project manager. We work closely with him. You see him in all the episodes. I work with my husband and my brother and you’ll see our kids, our parents, our cousins. It’s so second nature to us that we don’t know anything different. But at the same time, you have hard days where you have to set aside the family relationship, and you have to put your business hat on and have hard conversations. So, with the challenges though, there is nothing more rewarding than working alongside family.

'Renovation Aloha': Tristyn & Kamohai Kalama on HGTV's New Show Set in Hawaii (3)


What can you tease we’ll see with the other episodes?

Tristyn: I feel like there isn’t much you won’t get to see. If you want to see crazy transformations, and nastiness turned into magnificence, you want to see heated conversations between a husband and wife. You want to see humor and cute babies. You want to see all of Hawaii and all of its beauty, not just Waikiki, but other places of beautiful Hawaii. You’ll see it all.

Kamohai: If you want to see a real and authentic Hawaii that shares teh history of Hawaii, the culture., the specific places these houses are in, and the stories behind them told in an authentic way You’ll see all fo that on the show. The other cool thing is we do houses at every price point in every area around Hawaii. You’re going to see central Owahu in the first episode You’ll see eastside, out west in Mililani.. We’re all over teh island. Each place has a very unique story and a unique backdrop. You’ll love it.

HGTV fans are a dedicated bunch. Are you ready for what’s to come?

Tristyn: I think you take it as it comes. We see this as a responsibility and a privilege. We’re just blessed to be here. Of course, we’re all about collaboration and community and so anyway we can bring more of that to HGTV and more aloha, we’re happy to do that.


What did you take from teh filming experience?

Kamohai: Coming into this we had zero expectations. We owned and operated a business, but it was never our goal or our vision board to be on a TV show. This fell into our laps.

Tristyn: I thought it was a scam, dude. I was like I don’t know. Is this real? I didn’t respond to the message for a while. It was never part of the plan. But God allows the opportunity to be presented. It was our responsibility to walk through that door. And so we did and you can say we felt every type of emotion you can imagine. It was exciting, stressful, hilarious, hard,.

Kamohai It was a little bit more than we had expected. Managing all these projects and then adding the TV crew to it and having to film scenes. It was a lot, but in the end, when we look back on it, we are super happy we did and want to continue.

Tristyn: We stayed true to who we were and what we do. What made it easier is we do real estate all day long. It wasn’t foreign to us. Navigating the TV camera in front of your face was foreign but luckily we had an amazing production crew to go through it and are happy with the end product.

Renovation Aloha premiere, February 20, 9/8c, HGTV

'Renovation Aloha': Tristyn & Kamohai Kalama on HGTV's New Show Set in Hawaii (2024)


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