Before and After: The dramatic rebirth of a Japanese home

Megan Harris Megan Harris
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This award-winning, dramatic renovation to a 73 square meter apartment in Suita, Osaka, Japan, was the design genius of Sumai Architects. After 35 years spent slowly dilapidating without a single renovation, this dated and drab home was in dire need of a transformation. 

Not only did the designers bring the home's aesthetic presence back to life, they also remodeled the apartment to accomodate a family whose daughter is restricted to a wheelchair. Many of the circulation routes and the general layout of the apartment needed alterations in order to make the home wheelchair accessible. From widening access ways through to replacing steps with gentle gradients, the home elegantly become a space that includes, not excludes.  


Do you see what we mean?! Dark, drab and cluttered – the before was a MESS. The space feels cramped and natural light is ever so scarce. 

But this home's story has another chapter, one which is brighter and more open! Let's take a look at the transformation…

The social heart

Wow – it is quite the make-over! The main living space has been completely opened up, creating a fluid relationship between division and connection, and allowing the inhabitants to adapt the space as they see fit. Sliding partitions allow the ultimate in flexibility and the space takes on a dynamic quality.

The beautiful pine floor works delightfully with the stark white and black elements in the space. It's not too much, not to little – exactly on-point!

Division | Connection

Looking out from the Japanese style room, complete with Tatami mats, we can see the simultaneous qualities of separation and connection that it achieves. The change in flooring and the door joinery that crafts a picture frame are just two of the elements which delimit and distinguish. 

When the doors are open, as they are in this image, the space is assimilated into the larger social heart of the home: but it can also be completely shut off when the doors are closed.  

The kitchen is simple, as is the dining arrangement. For more minimalist kitchen and dining ideas, take a look here and here!

Office splendor

The storage in this office is certainly not lacking. The beautiful timber construction provides ample shelving and desk surfaces. What a wonderful space to work in – it's pretty hard to fault it.

For more office ideas, you're sure to find an abundance of inspiration here!

Lines of sight

Yes – sliding screens abound and they're not just beautiful, they're interesting and flexible! But what's most intriguing is the unusual sightlines that have been constructed. When lying on the tatami mats, one is offered a unique perspective out, while retaining their privacy. 

All is all, the transformation of this apartment was stunning! If you haven't quite had your makeover fix, fear not, we have another great before and after for you: An Adorable Small Apartment With A Youthful Vibe.

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