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Bed and Bakery: A Low-Key Café + Living Quarters in Japan

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Bed and Bakery: A Low-Key Café + Living Quarters in Japan

November 6, 2023

Business up front, domestic quarters in the back. Yuko Kim Safu, a floral designer and café owner in Yokohama City, Japan, wanted to transform her “Western-style” wooden house into a small café with living space and a commercial kitchen included.

She and her husband, Chris, an American businessman, had built their place 28 years ago and were ready to give it a new guise. They hired No. 555 Architectural Design Office to sweep in and do a quick and economical fix.

The Tokyo firm is a longstanding Remodelista favorite for its inventive use of humble building materials and its embrace of low-key living: see, for instance, The Nonchalant Family Home and A Wabi-Sabi Surf Shack.

Join us for a tour:

Photography by Shunichi Koyama, courtesy of No. 555.

the front porch of the house was originally yuko&#8\2\17;s flower shop but  17
Above: The front porch of the house was originally Yuko’s flower shop but in recent years had been used as storage. The architects introduced a greenhouse-like enclosure composed of polycarbonate.

The Peace Flower Market Factory is open weekends only, and is an offshoot of Yuko’s main Peace Flower Market, a combination café and flower shop a mile away in bustling Motomachi. “I’m a hippie at heart,” says Yuko.

takuya tsuchida, principal architect at no. 555, says he chose polycarbonate no 18
Above: Takuya Tsuchida, principal architect at No. 555, says he chose polycarbonate not only for affordability but the soft light it casts: “Glass is too direct. The house is in a quiet residential area, and I wanted to create a glow similar to fireflies.” He used leftover decking wood for the floor and counter.

Adds Yuko: “The neighborhood is residential, but it’s near early settlement houses and other historic sites, and is zoned for some commercial—which is how I was able to have a café in my house.”

the ceiling has exposed wooden beams and wood fiber cement blocks, also known a 19
Above: The ceiling has exposed wooden beams and wood-fiber cement blocks, also known as wood wool and excelsior (and typically used as insulation).

The café’s baked goods are made in the new kitchen in the back. Yuko offers flower arranging classes in her establishments, which are also known for their wide-ranging music: Yuko keeps her large collection of vinyl records in bins under the counter.

the architects were also enlisted to update the couple&#8\2\17;s main livin 20
Above: The architects were also enlisted to update the couple’s main living area, which they enlarged by removing nonessential walls and lining the perimeter with built-in steel-framed benches.

The antique chest of drawers is a Japanese medicine cabinet from a pharmacy. A signature No. 555 touch when space is tight: in lieu of a front coat closet, there’s a steel rod hung from the ceiling.

the existing room had tall ceilings and skylights. no.555 designed the minimali 21
Above: The existing room had tall ceilings and skylights. No.555 designed the minimalist dining table for eight, which works as a counterbalance to Yuko’s collection of chairs—”they’re mostly antiques; some are actually from an old church.”
the table is an extension of the new kitchen, which serves as the home kitchen  22
Above: The table is an extension of the new kitchen, which serves as the home kitchen during the week and the café kitchen on weekends. Yuko holds flower arranging classes at the table and adds a marble slab to it for kneading bread. The mezzanine is used for storage.
the veneered plywood cabinets and island are topped with a thin layer of stainl 23
Above: The veneered plywood cabinets and island are topped with a thin layer of stainless steel. The simple brass hardware is a No. 555 design.
black ink illustrations by toshiko kimura, an artist friend of yuko&#8\2\17 24
Above: Black ink illustrations by Toshiko Kimura, an artist friend of Yuko’s, appear in her cafés and here on a birch plywood panel. Note the unobtrusive under-cabinet range vent.
there&#8\2\17;s a small living area off the kitchen and another living room 25
Above: There’s a small living area off the kitchen and another living room downstairs, both of which open to wooden decks.
the weekend only café occupies the front of the house and the couple&# 26
Above: The weekend-only café occupies the front of the house and the couple’s new kitchen/dining area is in the back. There are bedrooms and another living area on the floor below.

Here are three more No.555 projects:

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Frequently asked questions

Who designed the Cafe and Living Quarters by No. 555 Architecture in Japan?

The Cafe and Living Quarters in Japan were designed by No. 555 Architecture.

What is the purpose of the building?

The building serves as a cafe and also provides living quarters for the residents or employees.

What is the architectural style of the building?

The architectural style of the Cafe and Living Quarters is modern and minimalist.

Where is the building located?

The building is located in Japan.

Are the cafe and living quarters separate or integrated spaces?

The cafe and living quarters are integrated spaces within the same building.

Is there outdoor seating available in the cafe?

Yes, the cafe provides outdoor seating options for the visitors.

What are the special features of the living quarters?

The living quarters feature a combination of functional and aesthetic design elements, with a focus on simplicity and efficiency.

Are there any unique design elements in the building?

Yes, the building incorporates unique design elements such as large windows for natural light, open floor plans, and a rooftop garden.

Can the living quarters be rented or are they exclusively for employees?

The living quarters can be rented by individuals who wish to reside in the premises or are open to employees as well.

Is the building open to the public or private?

The cafe is open to the public, while the living quarters are private spaces.

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