Excerpt: Kamakura House by ROOVICE is an interior design project that renovates only the required spaces, seeking to blend old and new harmoniously. The living room’s ceiling was taken down in favour of the exposed wooden framework to fulfil this goal of making the home’s antiquity obvious. Large-sized tiles with a uniquely reflecting surface like that of water were chosen for the pavement to blend in with the surroundings.
[Text as submitted by architect] This private house was originally built in 1991 and is situated in Ōmachi, a locality in the historical city of Kamakura in the Kanagawa Prefecture. The building is placed on a hillside surrounded by nature, resulting in beautiful landscapes in every direction.
Before the modernization, the kitchen, living, and Japanese-style rooms were all separated in their own enclosed area. This fragmentation spoiled the efficiency of the surface and created a complicated circulation inside.
Hence, the renovation started by removing the dividing wall between the living and tatami rooms on the first floor. This shaped a spacious kitchen and living room that covered the whole north-south direction of the plan. For the former one, an island has been installed near the south end of the plan, converting the previous kitchen into a hobby confectionery. Smoothing the corner with a rounded plaster board in front of the counter improved the flow inside.
The new counter is covered with the typical 10x10cm white tile from the Japanese modern era, adding a touch of nostalgia to the refurbished space. The island is sized to provide a secondary dining spot for the owners, and it soon became the centre of the family’s life.
Thanks to the new layout, the wide openings along the western wall provide plenty of natural light inside the plan. This allowed the two windows in the south end to be walled in favour of a kitchen shelf.
Given the generous size of the house and the disproportionate budget available, the renovation prioritised those spaces that needed it the most, trying to blend old and new harmoniously. To achieve this, the age of the dwelling has to be visible, so the ceiling in the living room has been removed in favour of the exposed wooden structure. Large-sized tiles were chosen for the pavement to match the texture and tone of the timber; those have a peculiarly reflective surface similar to that of water, working in synergy with the surroundings.
The renovation brought the biggest changes to the previous first-floor Japanese-style room: beside its materiality, which has been homogenised with the rest of the living space, the storage became part of the space, widening the ambience by a lot. The sun room (Uchien) in the inner engawa gained a bookshelf from the former storage. Now it’s used as a creative place in the house when closed behind the original Yukimi Shoji (translated as “snow-watching shoji”).
A different approach characterised the upper-level renovation, where the limited budget combined with the existing well-preserved conditions required only some minimal changes. The toilet received a wooden pavement reminiscent of the existing one in the hallway and the other bedrooms. The studio in the south-west corner replaced its floor too, but the owners entirely DIYed it with a woven texture. At last, the sliding doors in the Japanese-style bedroom were replaced with a darker tone to better match the materiality of the rest.