Tour 5 Japanese-Inspired Modern Homes That Embody Contemporary Elegance


“There was no question that we’d do this together,” Momoko says of the remodel that the 1950s-era California property purchased by her sister Aiko required. Though the footprint of the home was there, most of it had to be reimagined. The house is largely divided into two sides, but since it was constructed in the middle of the last century, the layout didn’t feel appropriate for a contemporary lifestyle. Before, the home had a small kitchen and dining room on one side—which Aiko didn’t like (she’s a self-proclaimed foodie). Bedrooms and offices took up much of the larger side of the property.

The sisters began addressing these concerns at a 10,000-foot level. They created bubble diagrams to outline a new flow and layout of the home, which the architect and contractor quickly put into plan once brought on board. The result was, essentially, a flip-flopped version of how the project had started out. Now, the shared spaces—like the family room, dining room, and kitchen—take up the larger side of the house, and the private areas are on the smaller end. “But it saved a lot of schematic design time to already have that figured out,” Momoko says.

For the interiors, Momoko wanted to bring in Asian influences to honor Aiko’s years living in Japan and Singapore. “We were also born and raised in Colorado, so I wanted to integrate some of those elements—like beautiful stones, woods, and metals—into the project too.” Of course, the home’s incredible mountain views were taken into consideration as well. “Aiko loves natural light, so we wanted to capture the views in a way the whole family could enjoy.”

Overall, clean lines and a neutral color palette channel the calm and harmonious aesthetic of Japanese design while complementing the scenery just beyond. But that’s not to say there aren’t moments of surprise sprinkled throughout the home. “If you go into Aiko’s pantry, you find a really fun wallpaper,” Momoko says. “I like to put joyful things in utility areas since they’re often just for working.” Now, each time Aiko steps foot in this part of her home, she gets not only a moment of joy, but also a sweet reminder of her sister through her signature move. —Katherine McLaughlin

Boxy concrete and wood home exterior courtyard with minimalist design and large tree

For his family home in Houston, architect Christopher Robertson was inspired by the Tadao Ando–designed buildings he saw in Japan and decided to emulate their sequenced entries and concrete minimalism.

Photo: Jack Thompson


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