Our home ~ featured on Somebody’s Home

Christine Martin is an interior designer and international educator who is now building a life and business with her husband Craig Morton in Luang Prabang, Laos. She blogs at Somebody’s Home and Happy Impermanence.

Christine participated in last year’s Interiors Project and you can see her home in Seoul, South Korea here.

Two months ago, on March 5th, Christine featured our home in Yokohama. Here is that feature:

I met Monna online after my sister turned me onto her blog. As a fellow international educator and lover of home design, it seemed likely that we would connect. Her writings include poetic thoughts on living in Japan, wonderful photography including her lovely Thankful Project, and a look at the interiors and lives of expats living overseas. Monna’s collection of travel pieces and art are what make her perfect for the current home away from home feature. Enjoy.

How would you describe your first impression of your current home?

When we first saw our apartment 18 months ago, it seemed like three tiny shoe boxes. Because Japanese homes are always wall-papered with white textured paper, the apartment felt, quite literally, like a blank canvas.

What aspect of your home caught your eye (architecturally or other)?

In two of the rooms, we have floor to ceiling windows that are actually glass doors leading out onto the balcony + the amazing view of Mount Fuji.

 What challenges did you find (dark rooms, irregular shape, unfavorable rug, etc)?

The biggest challenge in our home was that the three primary spaces ~ the living room/dining room, bedroom and office ~ are all small, long and narrow. We worked hard to furnish it in a way that would be both comfortable and appealing. In this sense, it was a blessing that Japanese apartments are rented without furniture, appliances or light fixtures; we started from scratch. First, we covered all of the white carpets with our own rugs ~ most of which are in red tones. This really warmed up the rooms. We bought two large couches and placed them across from each other without a coffee table in between. The television, which we waited a while to buy, is not a focal point of the room; we wanted it to blend into the gallery wall. In the office, we placed a sofa bed and desk and chair on the same wall to maximize space.

What items/objects instantly make you feel happy or at home?

Our collection of art makes me happiest.

Which room is your favorite? Why?

I feel torn about this question. The gallery wall in our living room always makes me feel happy while our bedroom makes me feel calm. The wall hanging above our bed is from Istanbul and the life-sized painting at the foot of the bed is by a Balinese artist.

Do you incorporate travel items into your design? If so, give an example.

Other than a few pieces of Teak furniture we brought from Bangkok, most of our furniture is from Ikea. It is the pieces from our travel that give the apartments its visual interest… a large ceramic caftan from Istanbul, a Balinese bridal couple, an enormous white ceramic bowl from JJs market in Bangkok and, of course, the art.

Is any of your interior design influenced by the culture of the country you live in?

A couple of graduates from our international school visited us during September of our second year and commented, “It doesn’t even feel like we’re in Japan.” They meant this as a compliment. :) The design choices we have made for our apartment are accidentally antithetical to the minimalism of Japanese design. When decorating a space, I like to mix old with new and I always incorporate a wild assortment of colours and textures; this playful style is inspired by things I love: cafes, bookstores, art galleries and the circus. Our view, however, is very Japanese.

How do you feel when you get home?

When I get home each afternoon, I feel comfortable and relaxed. I feel like myself.

Visit Christine’s design blog for the rest of the feature including more information on getting this look, for lovely features of other expat homes and for design ideas for your own house or apartment.

What is your favourite part of your home? Tell us a story about it.


    1. Hi Spike!
      Six feet remain between the Balinese painting of the cocktail party and the bedroom door. That will be more than enough room for our beautiful new quilt.
      {I promise to post photos here as soon as we’ve hung it!}

    1. Thanks, Marina Sofia.
      It’s a pretty lovely home. This will actually be the first time, since I left my parents’ home for university, that I have lived in the same apartment for three years in a row.
      Best wishes with your re-thinking and redecoration!

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