Japanese homes are known for their unique approach to separating the living spaces in a home. These are homes where the interior walls are generally flexible and the sleeping areas and living rooms are often interchangeable. So they have a bit of a head start on the rest of us who are relatively new to the idea of open-plan living.
The home we will explore today has a traditional tatami room and several wooden platforms. We won’t go into all the benefits of this kind of design just yet. But let’s just say that this is a project that is sure to inspire those searching for new ways of separating their living areas from the kitchen or dining room. This one comes to us from Japanese architects Kotori.
The single-level home has a slightly sloping roof and a very open façade. Large floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors cover much of the main living area. On the right we have a heavily latticed wooden door that leads to the entrance. A central chimney provides a cosy, earthy focal point.
The entrance area in any Japanese home is a point of interest. This is where guests are formally greeted and welcomed to the home. The entrance, or genkan as it is known, generally has a slightly lower floor level like this where guests would also remove and store their shoes. Window views are incredibly important in Japanese homes and this one has a carefully positioned tree for added beauty.
In the main living room we have a variety of different floors at slightly different levels. Directly in front is a wooden platform that adds a huge amount of natural warmth and texture to the room. It is otherwise minimally furnished, so these natural textures become a real focal point.
In many Japanese homes, the transition points between the various living areas are also highlighted through the design. Here we have a series of steps up and down as we pass through the hallway to the left. This feature is meant to draw the occupants' attention to the process of shifting focus as they move from one activity to another.
The tatami room here is another living room where guests might enjoy some quiet time. Shoes and socks are never worn in this area. Note the peaceful atmosphere created by the soft, subdued colour palette and the gentle geometry of the lines on display. The shoji wall to the right is created from rice paper and can be slid to the side when needed.
We will finish our tour with a night view of the porch or entrance area. It has an extremely limited palette of wooden materials, lines and colours. And yet, there is a huge amount of detail and complexity in the design. The patterns on Japanese screens and doors are often designed so that the shadow patterns from light form an integral part of the overall design. This family home quite delightfully fits the mould.
For a more European-style timber home tour, head over to look at The modern timber home built for an extended family.