A Contemporary Apartment for People and Cats by ALTS Design Office

This apartment was redesigned for a “husband who is keen on furniture and a wife who loves plants”. The property is set within a building that overlooks lake Biwa from Otsu in the Shiga Prefecture of Japan.


The owners contacted ALTS Design Office in order to create a home fitting for them, their newborn, and their two cats. The recent addition to their family was the main motivation for the renovation.

Nionohama Apartment House Renovation - ALTS Design Office - Japan - Kitchen - Humble Homes


The apartment contains a total of 914-square-feet (85-square-meters) and was completed in early 2017. According to ALTS Design Office, the concept for the apartment revolved around “cats, furniture and plants” (I suppose “people” is implicit). They ultimately settled on a design in which the living spaces of cats and people are connected through furniture.

Nionohama Apartment House Renovation - ALTS Design Office - Japan - Living Room - Humble Homes


The interior is finished in a contemporary style: white walls, wooden furniture, and elements of greenery are scattered across the living spaces. To accommodate their feline friends, furniture pieces were set against the walls, both high and low, allowing them to explore every nook and cranny of apartment.

Nionohama Apartment House Renovation - ALTS Design Office - Japan - Living Room 2 - Humble Homes

From ALTS Design Office: “By this, we designed the room as a space where both the cats and humans find where to stay, with some places where the eye levels of the cats and humans are equal, so that they can feel the presences of each other.”

Nionohama Apartment House Renovation - ALTS Design Office - Japan - Hallway - Humble Homes

The floor plan is roughly divided up into two main areas. The first is the public living room, dining room and kitchen. About half of this room is dedicated to the living room. The kitchen has been carved out of a corner nook. It’s quite small but it’s purpose built and tailored to the owners needs.

Nionohama Apartment House Renovation - ALTS Design Office - Japan - Floor Plan - Humble Homes

The other half of the apartment contains the home’s two bedrooms, a bathroom (with a separate room that’s dedicated to the bath), toilet, and an entrance hallway. Unlike most apartments, this one features a balcony along three of its four sides. From ALTS: “It was improved to be a wonderful space for humans and cats by designing it to maximize the utilization of the unused space and taking the two factors, the storage furniture and the cat walk into consideration.”

For more Japanese properties check out the Loft House, a minimalist home for a family of 5 from Tokushima. Or, Olioli, a family home inspired by nature from Mitaka, Tokyo. See all Japanese houses.

Via ArchDaily
Photos: Fuji-Shokai / Masahiko Nishida

Niall Burke

Structural engineer by day, tiny house designer by night. Niall has a keen interest in small spaces, green design, and sustainability. He started developing Humble Homes while studying for his masters degree in engineering. He is the founder and managing editor of Humble Homes.

  1. Nice but need curtains or blinds across the windows for privacy especially if you are by yourself.

  2. I love this idea, however, I have combed websites for permanent tiny house sites in the uk but to no avail. Buying land is so expensive as you can appreciate. Please give me some links or advice. Many thanks

  3. Hello,

    You aren’t alone, there is a growing interest in the UK with tiny houses, as well as a shortage of land we all feel. On facebook there is a Tiny House Community UK group which may be worth investigating. You also may be able to find some land cheaper under ‘permitted development’ rules – am still learning about that myself but there is a seminar on it at the Home Building and Renovation show in B’ham this weekend if you can make it.

    Also thank you to Humble Homes, really enjoy several of your articles.

    All the best,