Houses We Love: Every day we feature a remarkable space submitted by our community of architects, designers, builders, and homeowners.
Location: Okayama City, Japan
Structural Engineer: Nishi Structural Design
Contractor: Yamato House
Photographer: Norihito Yamauchi
From the Architect: "This is a renovation of a ‘minka’—a traditional Japanese-style house—for a family of four in Okayama, Japan. We wanted to revive the form of the house and modify the floor plan for modern-day family living.
"The home is not only a residence but also a place of work and gathering—the husband, a potter, works in his studio during the day and has many clients visiting, and the wife, a cook, often gathers people together for meals. We decided to reconfigure the house into three spaces: the doma/tatami room for guests, the living space, and the sleeping areas.
"The doma (the traditional, earthen-floored space between indoors and outdoors) and the hall are separated by three sliding doors that can be opened to make one large room with a four-meter-high hipped ceiling. Rather than create a dedicated nursery, the earthen-floored area is also used as a children’s room.
"The porch facing the large window on the south side is used for reading, drinking tea, and as a playground for children; the hall is used to store firewood collected from the surrounding mountains; and the rear study space features a niche made of lauan plywood and is also used by the children.
"It was important that the home is friendly to both people and the environment. The sashes were replaced with new, more efficient ones; the walls and ceilings were insulated; the home is heated by a wood-burning stove in combination with hot-water floor heating; and a heat pump is used instead of air conditioning.
"The ceiling has been finished with a dark lauan plywood that matches the color of the existing beams and columns, while the lower part of the ceiling is finished with a lighter color to complement the modern furniture. We avoided contrasting the old and new parts of the house, and instead used time-honored materials to harmonize the existing and new elements and respond to the client’s desire to ‘enjoy the flavor of old things’ while practicing a modern way of living."
Get the Renovations Newsletter
From warehouse conversions to rehabbed midcentury gems, to expert advice and budget breakdowns, the renovation newsletter serves up the inspiration you need to tackle your next project.