As an architect, interior designer, and culinary artist who lived and worked in Tokyo for over 2 years, I’m happiest in minimal spaces and maximized uses of space. In Tokyo, I was very well accustomed to living in my tiny, 100 sq foot washitsu (Japanese style bedroom) But due to personal matters, I moved to Los Angeles, jobless, homeless, and faced some severe reverse culture shock. Moving to Los Angeles and adapting to LA lifestyle was surprisingly much more difficult for me physically, mentally, and emotionally than it was for me when I moved to Japan.

Yet Kyle, my loyal friend of over 15 years, invited me to move into this studio attached to the house he and his new Japanese-American wife recently purchased. A week after arriving Los Angeles as this disheveled mess, I lugged all of my boxes of furniture and luggage into this LA studio, fell asleep on my blankets spread out on the floor, and woke up to a hipster neighbor’s rooster cukoo-ing. On my way to adjusting to the neighborhood of my new office in downtown LA, I walked through alleys that wreaked with piss and pot, and accidentally ran through Skid Row.  I was so terrified and overwhelmed by all of the clutter, chaos, and a personal life crises I was struggling with, that I seriously considered to move back to Tokyo. Tokyo, which I considered my home, is one of the world’s cleanest, safest, and most organized metropolitan cities, qualities of what a home should have. Yet after consulting with my friends, and reflecting on my experience, situation, and future, I became determined to make my LA home a comfortable and cozy haven to wake up and return to, just as I had in Tokyo.

After I’ve switched my weekday role as an interior designer with up to 80 hour weeks in Tokyo to now, an architect with 40 hour weeks in Los Angeles, I’ve pledged to myself to invest my additional time, money, energy by exploring, designing, cooking, building, and decorating my home into my personal sanctuary. Through personal time and the help of many incredible friends on weeknights and weekends,  I/we researched, drilled, screwed, and assembled everything altogether. While I’ve still been transitioning between Japanese and American lifestyles and cultures, I gathered my favorite design elements I grasped from Tokyo and brought them into my LA home. Again, I utilized mid-century Scandinavian, American, and contemporary Japanese design and maximized my space to be multi-functional. I firmly believe that comfortable living consists of stripping everything down to simple lines, organic curves,  and blending a palette of whites, grays, neutrals, and blue hues.

When you first step in, you’ll step into a spacious entrance foyer with an alcove for what should contain a fridge, counter, and stove. But to my horror, I was informed that the kitchen was removed and I was prohibited from having a kitchen because the city law prohibits one home for having two kitchens and my friend’s house was already fully equipped with one. Fortunately, Tokyo living had taught me to improvise well, so I assembled my kitchen and dining to consist of this: a compact wine bar from CB2 that contracts and expands into a functional work and dining station.

My LA home isn’t just an ordinary square-layout studio. It consists of a corridor and bathroom that separates two spaces, which enables me to designate spaces for specific uses. I designated the entrance area to function as my work / food experimentation for my blog and hospitality purposes. Meanwhile, the other functions as my resting / reading / dresser space.

For my bedroom, I rolled out my 8′ x 10′ cream rug and found this mid-century table and chair from Wayfair, this gorgeous Belgian flax linen duvet cover at West Elm that paired well with my brother’s bedsheets, and I covered my pillows with linen pillowcases hand-sewn from an Etsy designer in Lithuania. Behind the bed was a huge 75″ x 55″ x 20.5″ crawl space (an ugly pitch in the wall) that the previous owner designated for entertainment purposes. But because I don’t have the attention span/interest to regularly watch TV and the unrefined crawl space disturbed me, I covered it with a work in progress painting to make my sleeping space more therapeutic. I combined (4) – 30″ x 40″ canvases into one giant quatych that can still be conveniently detached and transported through cars. Installing the canvases onto the wall was the most challenging task, but many thanks to Home depot’s 2×4 plywood and Benny’s quick thinking and determination, we were able to suspend 4 canvases (without them all falling on my face) and I’m able to continually paint over whatever and whenever I want.

Although I’m still working on my painting and replacing/adding elements, my studio has definitely become my sanctuary that is an ongoing home project in progress. Thanks again Jonathan Vu for this fun collaborative styling photoshoot! And of course, thank you friends for making my every day of living – a little sweeter, a little brighter.

Details on the interior:

CB2 swig white mini bar

CB2 Odyssey dining table

Eames Eiffel style chairs

Ikea MALM bed / desk / shelves

West Elm Belgian Flax linen duvet cover

Muji linen storage and organizers

Customized Idee curtains (from my last Tokyo apartment)

Succulent from Home depot, re-potted into World Market dinnerware

Wayfair lounge chair

Wayfair mid-century table