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the house for two, Tokyo

With a population of 14 million people, space in Tokyo is limited and Architects are well-versed in devising simple, minimal ways of living comfortably with less. Located just five minutes from central Tokyo, this 46sqm/495sqft apartment is one of seven in the block built in 1979, each with a different floorplan.

Architect Kumiko Ouchi of Small Design Studio designed this home for herself and her partner, and cat, Cochi. She wanted the space to be simple, warm and comfortable. 

Previously, there were two bedrooms on opposite sides of the house with the kitchen and bathroom in the centre and connected to a living room. Ouchi removed most of the walls and reorganised the floorplan with the intent to increase privacy toward the rear of the apartment with rear bedrooms and an office nearer to the entrance.

A small walk-in closet sits next to the entrance and is the largest storage space in the entire space serving as the wardrobe and home to other seasonal items. From the entrance, the living room is a step-down, with a 2.2-metre custom bench along the length of the window, enough space for a few to sit. Beside the seat, recessed shelves have been built into the wall cavity. 

Both Ouchi and her partner love to cook, and the kitchen needed to be fully functional for them to properly explore their passion. However, as the kitchen was built right off the living room, it needed to carry through the same minimal design principles so as not to jar. The kitchen is ‘L’ shaped and features a small dining table made of wood and finished with a water-resistant ‘concrete look’ plastering. Appliances are carefully disguised or hidden from view with clever placement and arrangement.

Next to the living room is the office which doubles as a hallway to the bedroom and bathroom, thick beans coming down from the ceiling at either end ensure the space feels cosy. A three-metre desk made from laminated wood sits beneath two wall-mounted bookshelves and a floor-to-ceiling closet at one end of the desk rounds out the space. 

The only completely private areas in the otherwise open floorplan are the bathroom and toilet. A typical Japanese wetroom serves as both a shower and a bathtub. The toilet room contains a unique floating sink. Ambient lighting is the sole light used in order to make the space feel cosy and intimate.

The bedroom is entered via a sliding door. The bed is raised on a platform so as to allow for storage underneath while a custom closet has been built above the bed to provide additional storage. A ‘dressing’ corner sits in the corner of the bedroom for applying make-up.

Ouchi views a home as “a container for your life, when designing a small space, it needs to be well tuned to fit your lifestyle and adaptive and generous to future changes”.

Images by NeverTooSmall