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Kitchen of the Week: A Modern Space Thanks to a Traditional ‘Tsubo-Niwa’

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Kitchen of the Week: A Modern Space Thanks to a Traditional ‘Tsubo-Niwa’

May 27, 2021

A while back, we wrote about Fraher & Findlay‘s inspired update of a Georgian home. Today, we’re sharing another project, a renovation of an old Victorian in Hackney, London, featuring a Japanese-inspired tsubo-niwa.

Tsubo is a unit of measure equal to the area of two tatami mats (about 3.3 square meters); niwa means garden. As a compound word, it describes a small courtyard garden—and that’s precisely what was added to the property to connect a new rear addition to the original building.

Inserting a classically Japanese feature into a classically European house may seem like an odd mismatch, but it somehow works—and nowhere is this more apparent than in the kitchen and dining areas.

Let’s take a tour.

Photography by Adam Scott, courtesy of Fraher & Findlay.

The kitchen and dining room are housed in the new rear extension of the home. To the left (just beyond the glass door) is the small courtyard (or tsubo-niwa) &#8
Above: The kitchen and dining room are housed in the new rear extension of the home. To the left (just beyond the glass door) is the small courtyard (or tsubo-niwa) “to help articulate a relationship between the existing house and the new architecture,” says Fraher & Findlay.
The cabinets were custom-made by the joinery experts at Oblique Furniture in London. The marble used for the countertop and backsplash was sourced from J&R Marble.
Above: The cabinets were custom-made by the joinery experts at Oblique Furniture in London. The marble used for the countertop and backsplash was sourced from J&R Marble.
The backyard is on the other side of the kitchen, directly across from the tsubo-niwa.
Above: The backyard is on the other side of the kitchen, directly across from the tsubo-niwa.
An above-the-counter narrow ledge and ridged-glass upper cabinets allow for partial open storage.
Above: An above-the-counter narrow ledge and ridged-glass upper cabinets allow for partial open storage.
Above: Artful brass pulls and knobs from Swarf Hardware.
A steel and glass door opens into the interior courtyard.
Above: A steel and glass door opens into the interior courtyard.
The view from the tsubo-niwa into the kitchen. The door is by Josko. &#8
Above: The view from the tsubo-niwa into the kitchen. The door is by Josko. “We wanted an external environment to act as a pivot point between the spaces, whilst acting as an environmental tool to bring in lots of natural light and to aid natural ventilation,” says Fraher & Findlay.
A built-in bench in the lofted area cleverly transitions into a kitchen peninsula.
Above: A built-in bench in the lofted area cleverly transitions into a kitchen peninsula.
A glass and brass Atelier Areti Row Pendant Light is a glamorous touch.
Above: A glass and brass Atelier Areti Row Pendant Light is a glamorous touch.
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Above: “It feels like a quiet force, providing life energy to the house. It is visible from all the rooms in the house with the exception of two bedrooms and one bathroom,” says Fraher & Findlay of the courtyard. Faye Toogood’s Roly Poly Polyethylene Armchair in Flesh for Driade anchors a corner.
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Above: “The internal spaces were to feel textured, calm, and lived-in; as such, a raw plaster finish was used to reflect the softness of the house,” says Fraher & Findlay.
In a home that celebrates smooth transitions and meaningful connections, naturally the indoor bench extends into an outdoor one in the yard.
Above: In a home that celebrates smooth transitions and meaningful connections, naturally the indoor bench extends into an outdoor one in the yard.

For more kitchens with access to outdoor space, see:

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