This Minimal Japanese Getaway Was Built for Surfing

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By Heather Corcoran / Published by Dwell
Splashes of chartreuse enliven N-Holiday House, a seaside getaway by Sohei Nakanishi Design.

When a Japanese businessman approached Sohei Nakanishi to create a family getaway by the sea on the southern tip of the Chiba prefecture, the designer did away with all extraneous details, creating a place that puts relaxation—and materials—first. 

The spirit of the home can be felt in its material palette, which is borrowed from the style of boutique hotels. Industrial concrete and steel mix with contrasting raw wood and bright paint to offer a lively counterpoint to the gray urban architecture of the residents' day-to-day lives in Tokyo.

This Minimal Japanese Getaway Was Built for Surfing - Photo 1 of 7 - Designer Sohei Nakanishi created the seaside home as retreat from urban life, with a mix of natural materials the reference the home's surroundings and a courtyard painted a bright citrus accent shade. 

Designer Sohei Nakanishi created the seaside home as retreat from urban life, with a mix of natural materials the reference the home's surroundings and a courtyard painted a bright citrus accent shade. 

This Minimal Japanese Getaway Was Built for Surfing - Photo 2 of 7 - The exterior is clad in red cedar.

The exterior is clad in red cedar.

The starting point for the project was the family's passion for surfing. The house is designed to foster connection with the nearby ocean, with wide YKK AP windows that look through the landscape. The red cedar shingles were chosen because they will slowly fade to blend with the house's surroundings. 

"Like the rings of a tree trunk that define the age of a tree, the panels will age over time and give the building character," Nakanishi says. "The shapes reflect the changing shape of the trees and the organic nature of tree bark." 

This Minimal Japanese Getaway Was Built for Surfing - Photo 3 of 7 - A mix of red cedar shingles and scales make of the exterior. The design is intended to be a "layered flow" that will age over time with the family, blending into the surrounding nature.

A mix of red cedar shingles and scales make of the exterior. The design is intended to be a "layered flow" that will age over time with the family, blending into the surrounding nature.

Its counterpoint is a bright yellow hue on the exterior that can be glimpsed from strategic vantage points within the home.

"The accent paint is in an important location where I wanted it to have a positive effect on the inhabitants," Nakanishi says. "The yellow paint related to sunshine and a sense of wellbeing. In the morning, when the owners walk from the bedroom to the living room they feel refreshed and energized." Likewise, the designer says, those looking from the lounge and kitchen at the opposite end of the courtyard will find the hue an invigorating sight.

This Minimal Japanese Getaway Was Built for Surfing - Photo 4 of 7 - Hints of the sunny accent paint can be seen throughout the house, like this glimpse of the courtyard seen through the bedroom's YKK AP window.

Hints of the sunny accent paint can be seen throughout the house, like this glimpse of the courtyard seen through the bedroom's YKK AP window.

This Minimal Japanese Getaway Was Built for Surfing - Photo 5 of 7 - The family's love of surfing was a main inspiration for the space. It is designed to be a relaxing getaway with few distractions from the sea and surrounding nature.

The family's love of surfing was a main inspiration for the space. It is designed to be a relaxing getaway with few distractions from the sea and surrounding nature.

Inside, the house was laid out as a series of fluid and open spaces connected by a main corridor, lined with windows that flood the space with light. "As you walk through the house difference scenes both inside and outside catch your eye so that there is a constantly changing experience," Nakanishi explains. "Movement through the spaces is fluid and relaxing, while always having a connection to the nature near you."

This Minimal Japanese Getaway Was Built for Surfing - Photo 6 of 7 - The kitchen island is made of concrete with an oak top and black steel edging—an industrial element within a project that celebrates nature. 

The kitchen island is made of concrete with an oak top and black steel edging—an industrial element within a project that celebrates nature. 


This Minimal Japanese Getaway Was Built for Surfing - Photo 7 of 7 - Vast expanses of windows connect the home to its site.

Vast expanses of windows connect the home to its site.