Sayaka and Oliver

Sayaka, a writer and mother of two, lives in Matsumoto with her husband and two children. For them, home was more than just four walls. It was a personal labour of love that came to life through a self-renovation project.

Sakaya and her husband Oliver wanted a home without limitations for their children. Their journey started in rental apartments and ended with a renovation they did for themselves.

For Sayaka, the meaning of home carried a heavy responsibility. She originally saw a home as an anchor that meant tying herself to one place for a long time. It also held the weight of a big financial commitment. But living in rented apartments was no longer ideal once she and her husband had a family. Renting brought constraints like noise restrictions, little-to-no freedom to renovate, and a lack of personality. Having children sparked a new wish in her, to have a home of her own.

When their current house became a reality, the potential for personalisation was enticing. It wasn’t just about buying a house. It was about creating a home.

“I didn’t really think about buying a house at first. But becoming parents made us want to create a home where we could all live comfortably”.

Buying their house was the start of an interesting journey for Sayaka and Oliver. Since price was an important consideration in their decision, they opted for an older property and took on a renovation project.

“We could buy it for less money than I thought without needing a loan. So that was a huge factor. When we started looking for a house, I ran across this place from time to time. This house made me feel that perhaps I could do this and that and all the things I wanted to. That’s how we made up our minds that we should buy it.”

Sayaka believes children’s rooms should mirror the tastes of the little people who live there. “If the kids don’t like their room, there’s no point.” The freedom to renovate the whole house or individual rooms as needs change was a freedom she and her husband craved.

“Comfort for my kids matters, but I also feel like comfort is a concept that continuously changes. My ideas about my own comfort will change and my kids’ ideas will change as well. When it does, I don’t want to feel that my home is holding any of us back. So I really want a home that lets us all feel the freedom to grow as we do.”

Although she cherishes her family time, she also deeply values her personal space. Their home, spacious and welcoming, allows that. She finds solace lounging on the sofa immersed in her thoughts or a good book.

“I very much want time to myself. I value my personal time, but enjoy spending time with my family, too. However, if I don’t consciously create time for myself, I feel like it’ll have a detrimental effect on me”.

They gave a lot of thought to ambiance. Sayaka’s husband, Oliver, said they kept the ceiling very dark in the living room to have a more relaxed vibe. The rest of the walls are white so it’s still bright. They installed large windows in the kitchen to let natural light seep into the home.

“This house is very unique. In Japan, you usually, have houses clustered together, but our house is surrounded by greenery and nature. We wanted to boost all that was in it and around it. And we really wanted to enhance the natural aspect within our home.”

New Delhi, India

The Jhalanis

Three generations of one family, ages 10-80, live under a single roof in New Delhi.