Houzz at a Glance
Who lives there: Married couple + one child
Location: Toyooka City, Hyogo Prefecture
Architect: Masaki Kato of PUDDLE Inc.
Construction: Sodenaga Kensetsu
Size: Three above ground floors
Site area: 274.27m²
Total floor area: 276m²
Completion date: December 2015 (phase 1)/February 2016 (phase 2)
When the owner first returned to his native prefecture, he and his family lived in a house in a residential district in the mountains. One day, the family visited Kinosaki and came across this 50-year-old building. Sitting one street away from the hot spring town’s main street, and with a small river along its frontage and a bamboo grove behind it, the home was originally a kenban, a gathering place for geisha who worked at the hot springs. This photo shows the view of the river in front of the house.
The building has three floors, with the living, dining, and kitchen area that is the center of home life situated on the bright and comfortable third floor. The second floor contains the home’s private rooms, bathroom, and toilet. The ground floor is used as a storage space. Wooden ceiling beams and a striking kitchen highlight the spacious LDK area.
The LDK area is very comfortable and spacious. “The home’s design directly translates the lifestyle of its occupants into form,” says the architect.
Many friends and acquaintances visit and drop by from places both near and far, and talk about art and life in this living space. People congregate around the central kitchen island and tables, the raised floor, and other places designed to create a kind of “place of your own” where one feels truly at ease.
For instance, the family dines at the green table (designed by architect Jo Nagasaka) opposite the kitchen island, and teatime is enjoyed at the round table by the window. Of course, the big kitchen island is also a place for fellowship and conversation.
While open and joined to the living room, it is designed as a somewhat secluded space so that she can focus on her work and still feel the family’s presence.
The contest judges also singled out the LDK area for its “exceptional sophistication,” and the key to this “sophistication” lies in the interior detail. For instance, rather than simply relying on a uniform colour tone, the colour scheme is a subtle arrangement of tones of grey, the interior’s key hue. The coordination of subtle shades of grey covering the walls, kitchen island, ceiling, and radiation heating system both highlights the presence of the beams and brings depth to the space.
Rather than for the visual design, the planks had been added to increase structural strength of the beams. Since dance rehearsals need an unobstructed view, the space needed to be column-free on the short side. So, it is assumed that to support these long span beams, planks had been added to their sides to increase their strength.
The LDK area is spacious, but the northward side is by no means bright, so besides the windows it needs ample lighting. In addition to downlights, ambient light above the beams radiates off the ceiling and walls to fill the space with natural light.
“I think air volume is very important to spatial design. Ample air volume creates a vibrant space, and I think this interior achieves that,” says Kato.
Radiation heating system: PS Group
The diatomite finish is useful for dealing with humidity, needless to say, but that’s not the only reason it was used here. “Sodenaga Kensetsu, the company that did the construction work, is run by a high school friend of the owner. Now, it was the first time that I worked with him, and when I learned that his company once specialised in plasterwork, I decided to take advantage of this skill, and that’s why more than a few sections of the second floor have a plaster finish,” says Kato.
“Even the washbasin has a coated finish. A plasterer applied a transparent resin finish. It’s a very thin sink built from wood.”
While the doors and floors of the private rooms on the second floor reuse the sheathing wood board and other materials that were there before the renovation, they are laid differently in each room so that each one has its own character.
“I think smaller rooms are more interesting when they have personality. A personal room is just that: personal. So, for this home, while the large space on the third floor has a composed presentation, the more compact rooms, such as the wife’s workspace and the rooms on the second floor, all have their own distinctive colour scheme. Of course, a home uniformly designed around a single concept is a valid approach, but I think a home with rooms that each have their own character is more enjoyable. The concept of a large and open space on the third floor and distinctive private rooms on the second floor is what makes this home unique. It is very satisfying when it makes a lasting impression on visitors,” says the architects.
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