Japanese interiors have gained a lot of attention in the recent past for their exemplary display of minimalism. The design is impeccable and there is a great display of precision and sophistication. Because of their deep roots in Buddhism and philosophy, the Japanese are also big fans of integrating their homes with nature. And if that appeals to you in a way that you want a piece of it, let’s dive deep into understanding the Japanese style of interior design and find a way to replicate it in your home.
The Main Japanese Style Features
According to the Japanese, beauty begins at home. And those who long for beauty actually long for home. So, their design philosophy revolves around creating a relaxed and simple space that offers calm and peace. Far away from the troubles of the outside world, your home offers you the sanctuary that you have been seeking. How do you get a little bit of that for yourself? By being mindful of these features.
Keep It Light
Lightness is at the heart of this style of design in a literal and figurative way. When we talk about it in a literal way, we are talking about weightlessness which is the result of using very few materials. Figuratively, it is supposed to indicate emotional lightness that comes from a lack of clutter. This idea of lightness, unfortunately, comes from the turmoil and scarcity of resources that the nation experienced after World War II.
One of the pillars of the philosophy of minimalism is also about decluttering the living space. When we consider the things that matter most to us and keep only those items, we will realize the number of “possessions” we depend on and how letting go of a lot of them is a healthier choice for our minds. And now more than ever, there is a great need to take care of our minds, isn’t there?
Keeping it modular is another strong aspect of the Japanese style of design. This is because land is pretty expensive in their urban spaces. This is why a lot of their homes are quite tiny. This has inspired designers to make better use of the little space at hand and popularized modular living. When you divide your home into smaller spaces with multiple functions, even a small house can be spacious and dynamic.
Creating a Void
You must have noticed that a lot of these features are intangible. Add this one to the list but remember that creating a void is a key factor in Japanese designs. The emptiness is supposed to be a symbol of a cup that is waiting to be filled, a blank canvas awaiting an artist’s touch. It is like they say, silence is the loudest sound there is. This emptiness is supposed to inspire our imagination and strengthen our powers of perception of things. The clean space is supposed to balance the spaces that we fill with objects we need.
Now, it is not easy to keep your house and yourself deprived of things. But this becomes completely doable and worth it if you focus on the details. Even the simplest of things can be highly sophisticated when planned well. In fact, this is something we need in life too. It is the hallmark of a good craftsman. If you want to hide something in plain sight, it is tricky only till you plan the details right. Once you nail that part, the rest is a piece of cake. For example, look at any kind of Japanese wood joinery. Think of the details they needed to focus on to make two items look like one. The engineering of each of the objects you place in a particular room is what you need to focus on.
How to Use Light in Japanese-Style Rooms
This is a very important part of interior design, Japanese or otherwise. The visual aesthetics of daylight and how it causes living organisms to respond has a profound impact albeit invisible on our emotions and in turn our lives. The Japanese style of design usually focuses on the idea of using light in tandem with the natural materials in the room. It is also a scientific fact that natural light makes us feel better and is good for our health. And isn’t that the essence of this style?
How to Use a Japanese Color Palette
Next up is the use of color. While there is a wide spectrum of colors to choose from, white is the most delicate and fragile of them all. For the Japanese, this is a symbol of purity and emptiness (the one we talked about earlier) and it is used rather generously. Reducing bright colors from the space is a sign of focussing on something greater. It also helps in bouncing light off the surfaces and helps illuminate spaces with a small or no source of light.
How to Pick Japanese Furniture Designs
Now, let’s look at the kind of furniture you need to design your home in the Japanese style. A lot of their designs come back to one motto—awareness of the transient beauty of nature or ‘mono no aware’. The Japanese believe that materials can amaze you if you study and listen to them. That is why Japanese furniture is mostly made of natural materials. They have found many clever ways of using wood. This is applicable to windows, openings, partitions in rooms and even staircases. But remember that this needs to be done while respecting nature. So all of it must come from sustainable raw materials. This is why most of what they use is biodegradable.
How to Design Your Home
This style of design is obviously a promoter of zen and mindfulness. With natural light and close contact with nature, you can create the house of your dreams while preserving privacy regardless of the location. Let’s see how to do this, one room at a time.
Traditional Japanese Living Rooms
Forget about unnecessary details like photos, paintings and metal or glass decor items. Make sure the walls are bright and add white or cream wallpapers if you please. These can be plant based.
For comfort, pick a few traditional plants like bonsai or hieroglyphs with inscriptions. Pictures of sakura branches and katana swords are popular too. Use bamboo or laminate flooring for the interiors. It is durable and also practical because it is easy to clean and is good with temperatures.
Japanese Bedroom Decor
Next is the bedroom. This is possibly the most important room of the house. And if your whole theme is zen, this is going to be great fun. Always start with the floor, which in this case will be to cover it with a Japanese mat called Mat-tatami. These mats are made of rice straw and are great to walk on, especially without shoes. If you don’t like the idea, just place a little mat in front of the bed.
Oriental furniture has low legs so check if that works for you. Their beds are quite low. In fact, they go as low as possible. But if you have health issues you might want to re-think that. If possible, avoid the bed entirely and place the mattress on the floor.
You also need a chest with drawers next to the bed. But always make sure that you are only buying things you need for functionality. Otherwise, you end up cluttering the house. There cannot be any excesses.
Let the decor be made of materials like bamboo, wood or rice paper. The bed and chair must have silk pillows. The curtains can also be silk. If you want to decorate the space, consider rice paper lanterns that hang from the ceiling. Get a picture of something that is related to nature like cherry blossoms.
Japanese Kitchen Design
This is not a place that comes with a particular mood in the Japanese style of design. It just needs to be warm and cozy while balancing restrain. You need decor that is pretty but also small.
Consider placing bamboo in a floor vase. Let the curtains here be cotton with rice paper shades. The tea sets, bowls and plates are typically chinaware or of Japanese style. You can pick mats for seats and tablecloths.
What Does a Japanese Bathroom Look Like?
The traditional Japanese bath is completely hidden in the floor. It is in the shape of a deep bowl. It is made of natural wood and requires you to take a shower before entering it. The shower is placed separately in the bathroom. There is also a dressing area in the bathroom that is separated by a screen or a partition. Use ceramic tiles and panels to style the space. Light and calm tones are preferred. You can, however, have the main wall made of wood or straw. If you like it, add a diffuse spotlight.
The Japanese style of interiors is all about using natural materials and creating an atmosphere of zen. They believe that this can be done by reducing the number of “things” in any given room to a bare minimum, keeping just the essentials and using the color white and natural light to keep the mood breezy. Can’t really argue with that, can we?
If you aren’t sure that the Japanese style is what you are looking for you need to read through out list of Interior Design Styles to see what else there is. Who knows, maybe you will find something which suits you perfectly.