Living in an urban sprawl has a multitude of benefits, but space is unlikely to be one of them. We jostle around for breathing room and constantly itch to get away to the hinterlands just for some wide open spaces that are not crammed with people. This is especially so in mega-cities such as Tokyo where the aforementioned people exceed 10 million. And naturally, small houses are the norm. There is limited room to work with and everything needs to be integrated in there.
The house in the spotlight today is one such. But it raises the stakes considerably. Not only is it a two-storey home that occupies only a total carpet space of 77sqm, the entire thing came together with a construction cost of less than 20 million yen (that's less than S$275,000)! Spacious and airy, at no point would you think that there was a budget constraint attached to this house. Let's see how it all came together…
The first thing that catches your eyes is of course the bold blue exterior that instantly makes it stand out. Designed by K + Y Atelier Architects, the facade is actually constructed out of galvanised steel, which has then been painted over. Galvanised steel sheets are a great option when it comes to the exteriors, as they are rust-resistant making it relatively easier to maintain, plus they are cost-efficient – a win-win, we'd say. The blue facade also perfectly complements the wooden entrance porch and that unique Teppai stone (an iron-based flat stone that splits naturally).
Our first look of the interiors reveal a rather spacious living room It goes without saying that in an area as limited as this, it is important that you don't clutter it with too many pieces of furniture. Here, a simple dining table with relatively low-lying stools take centre-stage. This is a smartly integrated space that includes the living area, dining space and the kitchen.
The pinewood flooring, wooden fittings and the white surfaces all contribute to a feeling of spaciousness and warmth. To cut down costs, leftover wood chips were used in one form or another throughout the house.
By tuning it down to the basics and keeping things minimal, the architects have managed to create a space that opens up considerably. The working kitchen, for example, has been pared down to a minimum and all relegated to one side to make room for free movement. There's even concession for a narrow breakfast counter that can also double up as a space to move things away from the working counter.
The open kitchen has been designed in such a way that it faces both the dining and living area, as well as having a direct view of the outside.
We love this bright and cheery bathroom! The warm green accent wall is an unexpected addition to the overall decor theme, but fits right in. The fixtures are kept simple and minimal reflecting the design aesthetic seen in the other rooms. The semi-partition walls ensure that the shower area is separated from the toilet, but also manages to not be heavy-handed in a limited space such as this. Who said cutting costs meant compromising on aesthetics?
Whatever your dream bathroom looks like, flesh it out by speaking to our experts who can guide you along.
If you don't have enough space to dedicate an entire room to something that is important to you – be it your practise, hobby or work – you don't have to discard the idea in its entirety. Instead, make like the architects here and convert a corner space. So, instead of a full-blown Japanese-style room, there is a separate tatami corner that has been built on a slightly-elevated platform with glass sliding doors (instead of the traditional rice paper screens). Not to waste an inch of space, there are also storage drawers in the platform, enhancing the overall functionality.
Check out another small but well-designed apartment space: A perfectly compact Korean apartment.