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Discover how one homeowner pushed beyond traditional design


We recently spent time with California homeowner Sasaki Momoe and discussed the dramatic transformation of her traditional Bay Area home from ranch-style to Asian-influenced gem. Nichiha’s Empire Block panels were used in both the interior and the exterior of the home.


Q: What can you tell me about how your house looked originally? Was it always a contemporary design?

A: Oh no, the original house was a ranch-style house.

Q: Okay…so why contemporary? What was it you were looking for?

A: I like simple, clean, lean lines. That’s what I wanted to do. There are a lot of contemporary houses in urban Tokyo, and it’s very familiar and comfortable to me. And everything is easy to maintain and easy to clean up.

Q: That’s important?

A: It is.

Q: Do you recall how you became familiar with Nichiha’s product? My notes indicate that you used it throughout the interior as well as the exterior of your home.

A: Yes, we used it on the outside AND the inside, too. Originally the architect and I were talking about using the look of concrete as a kind of decoration, really, but concrete is too heavy for our structure and also too expensive. He brought me a Nichiha panel and I liked it. We used it as more of a design element inside.



Q: Okay. So weight was a consideration, but you wanted a certain design. You got that from Nichiha. Where did your architect find the panel?

A: He researched it and he found it. He may have used it before. I’m not sure if that’s where it came from, but he brought it to me…and it was exactly what I was looking for. It’s really good-looking…very handsome. I really like it.

Q: I’m sure your architect was quite proud of the project.

A: Oh, I think so…and he did such a great job.

Q: How did you select him?

A: My husband’s business friend had used the firm before and knew that one of their architects is Japanese. I’m Japanese…my English is not good, and I wanted someone to communicate with in Japanese. I wanted to understand what they were doing. He was very good at listening to what I wanted to do…and he could reflect my vision. His vision and my vision were artistically similar, so everything went very well.

Q: That’s great. Do you think a Japanese architect might have a different perspective on modern design?

A: Yes. If you look at old-style buildings, everything is very simple, especially in the middle of the Tokyo urban area. They have very limited space, so they use what they have to create the illusion of more space. The clean line is more useful, and people like it. It’s practical, too, and very fashionable, and I think recently the very contemporary design is a trend and that’s why people like it.

Q: I’m a fan of it, too…and by the way, I think your English is quite good!

A: Oh, you’re so kind. Well, my kids still correct me. When you’re talking about details, I wanted the architect to understand what I’m feeling and what I what I really wanted to say. That’s why I prefer speaking in Japanese…for a really serious project.

Q: Have you gotten any feedback from neighbors or friends?

A: Oh, they were really interested in what the product was, and at first they thought it was concrete. But I said, “No, it’s not concrete,” and they came up to it and touched it. “Ooh, wow, that’s cool.” That was the expression, wow, it looks like it totally is concrete and they said it’s amazing that it looked so real.

Q: Well, thank you for your time.

A: Oh, no problem. Any time. I’m a hundred percent satisfied with these panels. I really like it, so I’m happy to repeat that again. Any recommendation, I’m happy to do it.

The Momoe home of Hillsborough, California made extensive use of Nichiha’s Empire Block inside and out. It’s just one of the many projects highlighted in Nichiha’s latest edition of the Modern Homes Look Book. Get your copy here.

Learn more about how Nichiha is impacting modern home design