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Japanese Jewelbox

This Makiki home gets all the details right—from the tatami room to the traditional Japanese furo.


(page 3 of 3)


Photo by Hal Lum

The square footage gained with tricks such as this was put to good use. The upstairs hallway, for example, has been expanded into something more than just a passageway from one room to another. “It’s a place for the family to cross paths and talk and figure out what’s happening for the day. It’s the hub of the living quarters,” says Bass.
Pocket doors fold back into the dining room walls, giving an uninterrupted view of urban Honolulu.

Photo by Hal Lum

And because the owners are very private people, Bass incorporated a number of multi-staged and hidden areas. The downstairs bathroom, for example, functions as a small powder room for guests until you open up a second door to the furo bath area. The tatami sitting room’s side wall conceals a storage area in which to stash futons and other bedclothes. The kitchen hides a full office work space, complete with family bulletin board, that can be tucked away when guests come over.

Even the house itself manages to hide itself from the road a bit; because the driveway to the property exits via a private side street, there’s only a walk-in gate at the front. Given the house’s orientation, this makes the back entrance the most-used one, and Bass says he made sure not to pay it short shrift. “I wanted [the owners’] personal entrance to be just as exciting as the one you give to your guests. Both of them are strong.”
The downstairs bathroom includes a traditional Japanese bath, complete with an enclosed shower area in which to clean up  beforehand.

Photo by Hal Lum


Another, more subtle nod to privacy is in the house’s ease of upkeep. The owners do, after all, have to live in the house, and they wanted to make sure that the task of keeping it running was manageable without outside help. Two bathrooms are easy to clean, and the lack of rugs or carpeting means no vacuuming. Even the manicured Japanese landscaping can be maintained without much fuss. “We like to do everything on our own, and not hire anyone,” says the wife. “We hired an architect and a builder and now we’re good to go.”

Of course, there is one small wrinkle to living in a jewel box: you don’t want to mess it up. The family moved into the house late last year, and the wife says she’s still awed by the place.
“I’m having a hard time putting nails in the wall,” she admits. “There’s lots of blank spaces that I need to decorate, but it’s hard to do it. It’s just so beautiful.”                         


Architect: Richard R. Bass Architects, 373-9791, www.rrbarchitect.com
Contractor: Commercial Contracting Hawaii Inc.
Landscape Architect: Crane and
Sekimizu Corp.



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Honolulu Magazine February 2018
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