• February


  • 2213
  • 0
The Anti – McMansion

The Anti – McMansion

Living in a one-room house with an ultra-minimal aesthetic takes discipline. Bruce Buck for The New York Times.

Living in a one-room house with an ultra-minimalist aesthetic and two small children sounds more like the setup for a joke than something any reasonably sane person would attempt.

And yet that’s exactly what Takaaki and Christina Kawabata set out to do when they renovated an old house here. They were convinced that an open space with as few toys and material possessions as possible was a recipe not for disaster, but for domestic calm.

Still, living this way takes a kind of discipline that many find hard to fathom.

“Most of the people we’ve invited here are shocked by how we live,” Ms. Kawabata, 41, said. “How we can raise kids without toys and clutter and stuff everywhere.”

Mr. Kawabata, 44, laughed. “They think we’re Buddhist monks,” he said.


In fact, Ms. Kawabata runs a small design business called Takatina out of their home, and her husband works for the Manhattan architecture and interior design firm Janson Goldstein. And Mr. Kawabata modeled his design for the 1,200-square-foot house with its 14-foot ceilings and black-stained oak floors on communal living in 17th-century rural Japan. That, and his own childhood in a one-room farmhouse in Nakajima.


Takaaki Kawabata’s design for the house he shares with his wife, Christina Kawabata, and their two young children was inspired by communal living in 17th-century Japan and by the one-room farmhouse in Nakajima where he grew up. Bruce Buck for The New York Times


“There wasn’t much in the way of heating,” he said. “So my mother would be cooking and my grandmother was always knitting by the fire. That was my memory: everyone living all together in one room.”

The couple decided to leave Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 2008, because they could afford more space here. (The house and the two-and-a-half-acre lot was $335,000, and thanks to help from friends, the gut renovation added just $50,000 more.) But even so, when they moved into their new home the following year, Ms. Kawabata said, “We actually threw away half our stuff.”

Summing up their philosophy, she said: “We love the things that we have and try not to be wasteful. The rest, we edit.”

On a recent Saturday afternoon, their son, Tozai, 6, poured barley tea for a visitor, and Akari, their 3-year-old daughter, carried pastries to the table, displaying poise and dexterity beyond their years. They also behaved like children everywhere, competing for the adults’ attention by dancing, singing and showing off their drawings.

“The children are always surprising and delighting us here,” Ms. Kawabata said.


The dining table was custom made, as was the  bench. An MR chair from Knoll ($1,200) sits beside an adjustable Tripp Trapp high chair from Stokke (about $300). Bruce Buck for The New York Times


Mr. Kawabata added, “Without walls, there is constant communication.”

Eventually, there will be an addition, a 1,500-square-foot structure that may be connected to the main house with an open walkway. But that’s a few years off. For now, instead of walls, the family makes do with transparent room dividers created out of metal frames wrapped with nylon string.

The children have a designated space for playing and sleeping sectioned off by one of those frames, and at the end of the day, it is their responsibility to clean up their toys and set up the futons on which they sleep. Pillows are tossed down from the parents’ sleeping loft above.

“They are allowed to make a mess in their specified area — their bedroom — and every time they use their toys, they have to put them back in the bin before going on to the next one,” Mr. Kawabata said. If they ask properly, are on good terms with each other and are doing well in school, he continued, they can request that the toys they are using be swapped out for other toys stored in the unfinished basement.

Recently, however, Tozai, who is in first grade, has begun to realize that not everyone lives this way. His parents have handled the situation by repeating what has become an informal family mantra: How many toys can you play with at the same time?

So far, it seems to be working.

“We’re basically brainwashing him,” Mr. Kawabata said. “That’s how my father did it to me.”

Original Post by Sandy Keenan, NYT

The Anti-McMansion

Latest Posts
Most Viewed
Text Widget

Here is a text widget settings ipsum lore tora dolor sit amet velum. Maecenas est velum, gravida Vehicula Dolor

facebook instagram House Pinterest Twitter LinkedIn YouTube

© Copyright EcoCustom Homes | 5784 Lake Forrest Dr | Suite 216 | Sandy Springs, Georgia 30328 | 404.303.7280
Costs of Custom Homes

The first thing most people want to know is: What does it costs to build a 3000 sqft custom home in the Atlanta, GA. market?  The first thing you have to calculate is the square footage you want.  Once you have that, the numbers below give you a good starting point.

Adjusted Square Foot Calculation:

New Construction: