Award Winners Project 2

Project 2: Award-Winning Whole House Remodel

2004 CotY: Metro DC Chapter Best Interior Remodel over $100,000, Merit Award

The homeowner desired to honor her Japanese heritage and transform the interior of her home to that of a traditional Japanese home.

We at SEI Design/Build had never done a project of this style and the challenge became one of researching the evolution of Japanese architecture and interior design to be able to truly understand the desires of the homeowner, which were for aesthetic beauty, and for a spiritual space.

In a traditional Japanese house, there is a focal point, an alcove called the Tokonoma. It is bound by certain rules of construction, and they vary in formality. The alcove is considered a sacred space and never entered, but is used instead to highlight a work of art such as a painted scroll or flower arrangement; the seat closest to the tokonomoa is usually given to the most important guest.

The Tokonoma has a raised floor of cherry, and an alcove pillar of a perfectly formed cedar trunk, stripped of its bark to reveal vertical ripples induced by binding the young tree with small twigs. These pillars, called tokobashira, were used to frame the entry from the kitchen to the family room at the front of the house.

The fireplace in the family room was renovated to create a simple, pleasing line that was in keeping with the Japanese interior. An interesting Vermont Stone Black Lace Phyllite was used for the hearth and again in the new island in the kitchen. A custom-built glass cabinet display cherished heirlooms from Japan and runs the length of the hall from the Tokonoma to the kitchen entrance, bringing natural light from the dining room into what was once a very dark hallway. Niches were built into the hallway wall that leads to the bedrooms for use as a family gallery.

Throughout the living areas, bamboo floors were installed and shoji screens at every window. Shoji screens were also installed between the sitting room and the dining room. Select red cedar trim was installed throughout the home and left in it’s natural, unfinished state after a light sanding.

The typical Japanese bathroom consists of two rooms, an entrance room for undressing, which is equipped with a sink, and the actual bathroom, which is equipped with a shower and a deep bathtub. In this case, a three-quarter-height wall with sliding shoji at the top separates the two. When bathing Japanese style you are supposed to first clean your body with soap outside the bathtub. No soap gets into the bathing water. The tub (ofuro) is used only for soaking. For this project, large green flagstone was used for the walls and a smaller size on the floor.

Much of the aesthetic effect of a Japanese room is the result of a subtle harmony arising from the juxtaposition of differently textured building materials. This renovation succeeded in meeting that goal with the use of a variety of materials and textures, and it shows the Japanese spirit of wabi (subtle taste) and sabi (elegant simplicity). The homeowner is extremely pleased and proud of her transformed home.

Japanese inspired whole house remodel

Living Room Remodel

Living area - Award winning Whole House Remodel

Master bedroom remodel

Remodeled bath