Feast Your Eyes on Fashion Designer Josie Natori's Japanese-Inspired Home

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Perched on a ledge of glacial rock in Westchester County, New York, this exposed-timber residence elegantly incorporates traditional Japanese architecture.

Designed by renowned Brooklyn-based practice Tsao & McKown Architects for their longtime clients, fashion and homeware designer Josie Natori and her husband Ken, this 2,900-square-foot residence in Pound Ridge, New York was constructed with a heavy, exposed-timber structure that was flamed to enhance and darken its wood grains. 

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Besides adding gravitas to the facade, the timber structure removes the need for interior walls, and helps create an open-plan living area that frames large garden and forest vistas. 

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The Natoris, especially Ken who is of Japanese descent, are big fans of traditional Japanese architecture, so Tsao & McKown included Japanese-style gardens and landscaping to the design.

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Timber-framed verandas, including an entry veranda that leads to a Zen-like garden and old-growth pine forests beyond, seamlessly connect the indoor living spaces to nature outdoors. 

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Stones excavated from the site were placed around the garden, and the bedroom was designed with a private enclosure with an antique foundry stone water fountain. 

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Sliding glass walls were used along all the verandas and terraces, as well as the indoor-outdoor bath area. 

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The rhythmic effects of the timber beams give the interiors a calming, contemplative feel. 

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Within, two large trapezoidal skylights are carved out of the flat roof, their sloping asymmetry making the best of the seasonal shifts of the sun. 

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Wooden slats bring privacy to certain parts of the house, and encourage an atmospheric play of light and shadow. 

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In the living area and bedrooms, clean-lined, slender bronze chimneys hang down the ceilings over contemporary granite slab hearths, which recall the stone outcroppings adjacent to the house. 

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A color scheme of earthy browns and beiges with contrasting accents of deep purples, orange, and chartreuse helps the interiors harmonize with the dwelling's natural surroundings. 

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Japanese antiques like an isho-dansu credenza and historical sliding screen headboards from the Natoris' personal collection were incorporated into the décor, which also includes midcentury modern pieces from George Nakashima and Nanna Ditzel. 

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Tsao & McKown custom-designed the chairs, banquettes, sofas, a resin top dining table on thin bronze legs, and a low daybed in the bedroom lounge area that can be raised and transformed into a massage table. 

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Project Credits: 

Architecture, interior and landscape design: Tsao & McKown Architects

Builders: Prutting & Company 

Structural engineer: Robert Silman Associates 

Civil engineer: M/E/P - CES Engineers 

Lighting consultant: WALD Studio 

Geotechnical engineers: Geodesign Inc.