Home visit: a small city home made for family time
A small-space home can make it easier to slow down and spend more time together. Take a tour of this compact city apartment, where a family of three can feel connected to each other and to nature.
The living room is the heart of Mieko and Kenta’s home. “We spend all our time in here,” says Mieko. “I love to sit and read with the windows open and the breeze blowing through.” Wood, rattan and wicker help to tie this multifunctional space together. “I find natural materials calming. They fit with any colour, outlive trends, and get better with age, so it’s more eco-friendly too.”
The living room also works as a playroom, with storage for their daughter Tsumugi’s toys and games. “She loves playing in the kids’ corner when her friends come over. And other times she likes scattering her toys in the middle of the living room!” says Mieko. Dolls, stationery, and soft toys are stored by type, with favourite toys and drawings displayed on top of the storage unit.
“Cooking makes me feel calm,” says Mieko. In the narrow kitchen, open storage keeps everyday items organised and easy to reach. “Whether it’s just us three or we have friends over, we try to eat slowly so we can enjoy our food and talk to each other. Everyday life is not boring when you enjoy the simple moments and find joy in small things, like a weekend morning without any plans.”
Invite nature in
“If I could change one thing about the kitchen, I’d add a window,” says Mieko. She connects this space to nature in other ways, softening sharp lines with wood, wicker and bamboo. “We love camping and I’ve always dreamed of living in the woods, so I’m drawn to natural materials.” In the summer she makes pickles and preserves, stored in glass jars alongside dried ingredients.
In a small home, every inch of storage space counts. “We stay on top of tidying to avoid the visual stress of clutter,” says Mieko. “For me, a clean and tidy home is much easier to relax in.” To maintain a sense of space, closed storage needs to be just as organised as the open shelves. Stylist Aiko helped Mieko to rethink a busy utility cupboard using stackable boxes and inserts.
The family’s bedroom is a comforting space, with calm blues and soft lighting. “Indigo blue is found in traditional Japanese dyeing, so it helps me relax and sleep better,” says Mieko. “We put two large beds together to make a wide bed for the three of us. When we get home, have dinner together, then get ready for bed, anything that happened in the outside world doesn’t matter anymore.”
Mieko’s garden extends the main living area and provides a break from city life. “We both grew up in the countryside, and I’m still most comfortable when I can feel a connection to the outdoors,” says Mieko. She grows mint and shiso leaves, and stacks plants at different heights for a lush view out from the living room. “It’s also where we take care of our tent after camping trips!”
Make home a haven
For Mieko and her family, this 71-square-metre apartment is the most important place on earth. “Home is a place to be together and feel completely free,” she says. “We haven’t decided on a specific style. We just collect the things we like, and that makes it our home. I try to stay playful and embrace the DIY spirit.”
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Interior stylist: Aiko Ito
Photographer: Philippe Le Berre
Follow Mieko on Instagram: @muginoheya