The heart of the home, however, is an authentic tatami room surrounded by elegant shoji screens that is elevated from the first floor. In a typical Japanese home, such a space can be used as an eating area, a study, an area for contemplation, and often, a bedroom. The Crawfords use theirs primarily for entertaining and dining. “This works out really well for breakfast when you have overnight guests, or for dinner or cocktails, and it’s also a good relaxing, reflecting area,” says John. Materials for the room were crafted and shipped by a Japanese carpentry supplier based in California who, at first introduction, gave Miao pause. “Andrew was a little skeptical because his name was ‘Clyde,’” laughs John, but with Miao’s design, the Crawford’s vision and the determination of builder Michael Squier of Hyannis-based Squier Construction, the room has become the home’s masterpiece. The alcove pillar is made from tokobashira, a tree grown in Japan, a corner post in the ceremonially important alcove called tokonoma, the recessed space that is the focal point of the room where a decorative scroll hangs. Japanese wallpaper in an earthen hue offers a grass-like texture on the walls and ambient lighting illuminates the space. Underfoot lay a series of tatami mats that hold special meaning for the Crawfords.

In Shoto, Shibuya, their Tokyo neighborhood, the couple habitually passed a little workshop for four years, curious about the shopkeeper’s trade. Their quest to bring authentic tatami mats back to U.S. when they moved led them to the neighborhood shop, where an order for 10 mats was placed and a fast friendship forged. Before their departure, the tatami maker gifted the couple with a number of ancestral kimonos, explaining the meaning of each one. The touching gift today rests in a striking tansu, a Japanese lacquer clothing chest.

The master bedroom and bath, laundry room, storage closet, powder room and mud room are also on the first floor. “The concept is one floor living, so everything we need is right here,” says John. “In fact, the second floor is sort of an add-on for company and resale value; we don’t really use it much.” Outside, a traditional Japanese wall lends a panoramic view, says Miao, and a modern interpretation of an engawa, an indoor/outdoor veranda, is found on varying areas of the exterior.

The overall project, concedes John, has been 10 years in the making with “thousands of decisions” along the way. But it has been well worth the journey.

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Andrea E. McHugh, a former editor at Newport Life magazine, is a freelance writer living in Rhode Island.

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