by MoY architects | 山本基揮建築設計

Empty shell to timber belle

Izelle du Pisanie Izelle du Pisanie
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When it comes to small apartments, people often feel discouraged about their options for renovation. Regardless of the size of your home, however, there should be no reason that you can't transform your home into whatever you want! It is a feature of our urbanised modern life that homes are generally getting smaller for your average family living in the city. Apartments are becoming a standard family dwelling unit with increasing appeal. Therefore, it is only fitting that apartments are no longer just temporary shelters, but lifelong homes, and this means that a renovation will be inevitable at some point in time. 

Today we will look at the renovation of an 80 square meter apartment in Tokyo, Japan. We have absolutely no doubt that you will be quite impressed with the transformation that took place here. A stripped and bare apartment if given a new life which had been envisaged with great creativity and imagination. Timber fills the space for a warm and welcoming feeling—the ideal little home! Interested and what took place here? Let's go take a closer look…

Before: Bare beginnings

Here we have the apartment space as it were before the renovation project began. In this picture, we are sure you can see why we call it an 'empty shell', as the space seem to be largely featureless. Just plain walls, ceiling, and floor with nothing special or particular about the environment. A simple coat of paint, some interesting furniture, or a few decorative wall items hardly seem as if it would do the trick for this home. No, there would have to be some major changes to take place if what we see here is to be transformed into a warm and exciting home for a young family!

Another issue that is apparent from this picture is the lack of definition in the space, as here we only see one very large living area. Since this is the home of a family and not a studio apartment, there are some spatial changes in order as well. 

After: New space

After the intervention that took place under the watchful eyes and guidance of Moy Architects, the dull and empty shell we saw in the first image had been transformed into a timber-filled beauty like no other. The colour and texture of the different materials mingle in a gentle and warm ensemble to make this a home anyone should adore. 

What was once a featureless and open space has now become a well-defined living area with distinct spaces for the separate rooms of the home. To the left we can see a platform, creating a boxed unit which will be perfect for a bedroom. Here, you won't even need a bed base, and lay a luxurious mattress down right onto the warm wood. Surrounding this unit is a curtain rail, ensuring privacy from the rest of the apartment as necessary. 

On the right side of the image we can see the entryway to the kitchen, which we will inspect a little later on. This room was also created, and neatly fits into the space alongside the bedroom unit. Note the exposed areas of concrete on the ceiling. The architects purposefully kept this as is to bring a touch of industrial style to the home and create that rustic feeling. 

Before: Stripped down

Now here we can see the process of the renovation in a bit more details. This image provides a look at how the skeleton of the new interior structure had been built up for the renovation. At the back of the image we can see the installation of a frame that will create a division in the living area, allowing for separate and private rooms to come about. The architects made use of plywood for this structure, ensuring a lightweight and easy-to-install material which will more than fulfil its purpose. 

After: Built up

With the angle of our perception only slightly altered, we can now see what the new apartment looks like in the area where the plywood structure had been imposed. Classy, isn't it? The architects left the plywood largely untouched, leaving a warm and gentle backdrop to the entire room. In addition to this wooden element, the designers also chose to install wooden flooring in the form of glossy tiles in a herringbone pattern. This style immediately adds a sense of elegance and sophistication to any space, reminiscent of French architecture and interiors. 

We can also see that the furniture for the entire apartment had been duly considered, and a mix of Scandinavian-inspired and vintage items give the room a unique character. 

A smart new kitchen

Available space was naturally a challenge in this project, and the architect had to get creative. This brief also required them to split up the larger, open section of which had been the living space, into smaller areas for functional use. Here we can see a tiny kitchen which had been created by installing wooden board to separate the area from the larger space. It may be a small kitchen, but the layout allows for optimisation of space, ensuring that the family still have everything they may need for their culinary endeavours. 

If you also have a tiny kitchen in your own home, there are many ways to make it pop, just like this classic and minimalist example. For more on this topic, take a look at: Easy ways to boost a small kitchen!

Let us know what you thought of this transformation in the comments!
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