What do I want?

In order to clarify in my mind what I wanted and to communicate the purpose of our home makeover to a potential architect, I put it down on paper. I’m glad I did, it helped solidify my thoughts and the initial exchange with potential architects went smoothly. Here’s what I wrote:

Problem Statement

I find my home pleasant and comfortable but I seek something better but not necessarily bigger. I find new builder homes uninspiring and too big. I seek something that is designed for the 2 of us and improves the view I have. My home is missing items considered “musts” in a typical Japanese home but are extremely rare in an American home. My home is also missing items considered desirable in typical American home.





Designed for us

Just big


Compartmentalized (maze of rooms)

Relaxing and comfortable

Designed to impress, overwhelming

Casual (informal)




Abundant daylight







Cookie cutter

Modern, Japanese, Prairie

Victorian, Colonial, Provincial

shibui (restrained elegance)

Showy, glittery



Focus on interior

Focus on curb appeal

Minimum Requirements

Multi-purpose family room (eat, work, tv, relax, guests)


Master bedroom with toilet and shower

Guest bedroom

Occasional private office

Single floor “primary” living area (family room, kitchen, bathroom)

Low maintenance

Built to last a lifetime

Primarily wood floors except bathroom

Washitsu area (part of family room)

Items to Add


Improved view out of family room (more relaxing view…not neighbors’ houses and cars)

Open family room and kitchen.

Oruro – Japanese soaking tub and connected washing area. Bath dug into floor for easy entry or raised floor around it.

Tankless water heater (goal is to not run out of hot water)

Washlet toilet

Walk-in closet

Bigger bathroom

Built-ins for home theater

Genkan (Japanese-style entry), unified between garage and main entry

Water softner for whole house (goal to avoid lime build-up)



Engawa (inside/outside feel)

Laundry room with space to hang clothes to dry and well ventilated. No sink required.

Pantry (can be built in full-height pull out cabinet)

Japanese bath separate from toilet

Stylish fireplace

No floor molding for clean look



High ceiling throughout (10ft but with variations)

Loft/Reading room (away area but not totally isolated)


Don’t Need

Dining Room

Living Room separate from family room

Big, fancy master bedroom (just need a pleasant place to sleep)




After talking with several architects, I settled on an architect referred to me by a co-worker. The architect is a small architect-led design and build firm. The architect does the design and acts as the general contractor. We toured a few of his homes and impressed by them all.

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2 Responses to What do I want?

  1. ant says:

    I’m loving your account of this change. Your story is seductively calm, despite the presumably huge disruption to your lives… I found myself nodding (enviously) at every one of your line items, and instinctively agreeing with their respective priorities.

    When reading people’s accounts of their daily lives, needs, desires and dreams, I’m always struck by how much we all have in common, regardless of nationality or culture. Most of our time is spent looking for differences, looking for an edge, or some (usually inane) advantage, for professional or political reasons. I understand it, but I don’t have to like it.

    I’m looking forward to seeing things come together.

  2. Tim says:

    I love this website. I’m actually trying to do the same thing in Belgium (Europe) and find it hard to mix between traditional Japanese, modern minimalism and construction material. Could you give some sources you used and a sketch of your plan?

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