The prolific interior designer and co-founder of Design Intervention, Nikki Hunt, shares the look of her alpine apartment home in the snowy region of Hakuba, Japan. 

When Nikki Hunt first visited Hakuba in the Japanese Alps, she fell in love with the place immediately. The founder and principal of interior-design firm Design Intervention liked this area within the Nagano prefecture so much, she purchased a house there.

“We bought a tired old pension which had been a 13-bedroom small hotel, and restructured it to form a five-bedroom chalet,” says Hunt, a UK native based in Singapore. After successfully renting out the chalet when the family was not there, they bought an apartment, too.

Hunt rents out her Hakuba apartment when she and her family are not using it. A local property- management company, which she describes as “very efficient and reliable with quite reasonable management fees”, manages the rental for her.

“This gives us peace of mind,” says Hunt. “Besides, Japan is a safe nation, with a strong, well-organised legal system, so we are confident about the property contract we have purchased. The Japanese people here are lovely, kind, honest and reliable, and the properties have all been well maintained and any problems easily solved.

Besides the rental yield, Hunt and her husband believe the area has great potential for capital gain. “Japan has suffered from a huge recession in the property market over the last 20 years but prices have begun stabilising over the past two years. There is quite a bit of building activity going on in the area and a pickup in interest from foreign buyers. But values are still very cheap (though off their lows), both compared to those of international ski resorts as well as compared with Niseko in the north of Japan. We are quite optimistic that we will see price appreciation,” she says.

“But of course the reason we have bought in the area is simply that we love going there,” she says.


My Hakuba Apartment

A neutral palette and fur and leather finishes lend warmth to the Alpine apartment.

The Hakuba apartment in the ski Alps of Japan was designed by Nikki Hunt of Design Intervention as a bolthole for her family. When not in use, she rents it out to holidaymakers looking for a luxurious, chic retreat in the mountains. The apartment combines Alpine luxe with the essence of Japan.

Luxe touches like a crystal chandelier add visual drama.

“I wanted the interiors to be imbued with a contemporary Japanese aesthetic, so the guests would feel they were
in Japan but have all the luxury and comforts that the international traveller expects,” says Hunt. This explains the oriental elements such as wood panelling, pillars and beams, and Japanese-style ofuro (bathtub) in the bathrooms.

The apartment features timber beams and 12 shoji-style windows.

Modern indulgences such as large, plush bedrooms and lavish furnishings complete this perfect hideaway in the Japanese Alps.


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Article by Wyn-Lyn Tan, originally appeared in The Peak