Tokyo Home Uses Small Size as a Plus in Creating Work-Life Balance

A modestly-sized family residence on the outskirts of Tokyo in Mitaka City demonstrates how work and life can be stylishly combined into one beautiful design. Created to accommodate a family of three, the home relies on minimalist design and unique built-ins to add function to the long and narrow home.

The challenge for Atoshi Kurosaki and APOLLO Architects & Associates was to find an aesthetically pleasing way to meld the contradictory aims: work and leisure, interior and exterior, along with public and private.

On the exterior, the timber-framed home is done in a darker palette and with a distinct design the differentiates it from the typical homes on the street. The metal exterior has a finish of Galvalume , which is a coating consisting of zinc, aluminum and silicon that protects metal from oxidation, similar to galvanizing. It’s also covered with a special elastic spray.

The result is a home where the second floor consists of a single open room with tile and walnut flooring. All of the storage areas, kitchen appliances, and other functional elements are strategically built into the walls. This helps keep the space open and uncluttered while promoting a feeling of unity, continuity and flow through the long, narrow footprint of the house. It also creates an environment conducive to working from home.

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In addition to the minimalist feel, the space gets a good amount of light because of the gabled design and glass front. The ceiling and exposed rafters are comprised of spruce pine fir, Lauan plywood and walnut. 

The ingenious use of one-way glass blocks prying eyes from the road outside, but lets the residents enjoy the natural scenery outside, giving the interior space a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere, along with a connection to the outdoors.

At the top of the gable, inset indirect lighting gives this second-floor space a very special, secluded feeling. Here, as throughout the home’s lighting design, all the fixtures use LED technology.

The front balcony is a glassed-in intermediary space with deep overhanging eaves, and it was conceived to help play an important role in the transition between work and leisure. The pieces used on the balcony follow an aesthetic that is similar to the furniture inside of the home, creating a unified, continuous look.

By contrast, the private areas on the first floor — the master bedroom and child’s bedroom  — used the same design approach to create spaces where comfort and coziness dominate. With less natural light flooding the space, designers used creatively layered lighting to warm and illuminate the space.

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This design approach uses the compact size of a space as a plus in creating an efficient design, rather than a negative challenge to be overcome. The architects hope that this mindset will be sought after more often in the post-COVID 19 era.

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