The stressful careers and hectic lifestyles of today make it difficult to find peace and relaxation. Since your own home is one of the few options left to experience a tranquil and comfortable oasis, the zen style of decorating has been popular. It’s a movement towards minimalism and simplicity on the home interiors that can help the senses relax. It’s not an interior design style – its principles are inspired from a Japanese spiritual state of Zen, which refers to meditation. When translated to interior design, it means making the home a place of relaxation, harmony, balance, simplicity, and freedom from clutter. To achieve the zen look for your home, follow these helpful tips:
1. Eliminate clutter
A zen home is a clutter-free zone. If you like all your everyday items, products and accessories readily visible and accessible, then the zen style is not for you. If you’re considering the zen lifestyle, the first and most important thing for you to do is to clean, clear and organize. Clear your rooms of as many items as possible, and just keep enough stuff that you really need. This means reconsidering your needs and getting rid of the things you don’t need – most probably you would lose a serious amount of stuff. Once you did it, keep your most of your remaining belongings out of sight. Then, feel free to add anything that may bring you extra comfort, but don’t overdo it (remember, focus on your needs). And this means you have to keep decorative items to a bare minimum.
2. Use earthy colors
Homes that are Zen-inspired are all about natural, earthy colors in soft tones. White, gray, shades of beige and shades of pink beige can create a calm and relaxing atmosphere. Creating harmony in terms of colors is very important, as well as the visual continuity between the floors, walls, and furniture. Zen interiors are often made up of stone, bamboo or stripped plank floors; simple white ceilings; matte white or light neutral walls; neutral or natural-colored upholstery and furniture; and unbleached fibers. To avoid blandness in your space, pick a dominant hue (for example, the color of walls or floors) and combine it with textured matching textiles or objects.
3. Choose simple and natural furniture
Your furniture picks must have clear and simple lines – no classic ornamentations and intricate sculpting details. Avoid tables with cabriole legs or sophisticated wingback chairs. The furnishings you pick must be made of natural materials. Your best picks would be modern, contemporary and Asian furniture in neutral solids. For the bedroom, which is the most important room in a zen interior, it’s best to place the bed close to a window or any source of natural light. Use headboards that are made of either leather, upholstery or patchwork.
4. Make room for more storage
Since decluttering and keeping distractions out of sight is the key to a zen home, storage is very crucial, but it should be camouflaged as much as possible. Have built-in cabinets installed, and keep them in a color that matches walls. Store your cookware, china and other kitchen tools and gadgets in a floor-to-ceiling laminated kitchen cupboard that is as white as your walls. Use benches that have storage underneath. For a modest take, consider using wabi-sabi-style cabinetry for the hallway or mudroom for shoes, coats, jackets, umbrellas, and bags.
5. Make a free-flowing space
See your home as a free-flowing, open and unrestricted habitat wherein rooms soundly dissolve into each other. It doesn’t mean you have to tear down the walls – it just means you have to remove all the distractions so the eyes are focused into an empty, calming space. If you don’t use a coffee table in the living room, get rid of it to make more space. Incorporate glass walls that can give you a great view of your outdoor garden. A big glass window allows a bedroom to connect with nature. Polish bare wood or slate floors; remove bold draperies and wall art; get rid of your patterned, accent wallpaper; and uninstall your ceiling medallions and door frames. The key is to set your imagination free so you can experience a peaceful state of mind.
6. Add comfortable finishing to the floors
Parquet flooring is a popular flooring material for people who want to ensure maximum comfort in their homes. Pick those colored in white, gray, tan or any light color, but you may also prefer a more colored version if it matches the room better. Resin flooring is also a great choice, especially for loft type of homes. To make the floors friendlier to the feet, use a carpet that is made of wool or cotton. Make sure the carpet you choose matches the color of the floor. You can also use area rugs that are made of sisal or woven reed.
7. Maximize natural light and play with soft lights
Keep your window treatments simple – natural sheer or plain white draperies are great for living areas or in any room where the outdoor view is great. If you need privacy, use bamboo blinds or go for wool or linen draperies that match with the rest of the room. For your artificial lighting, use soft and calming lights instead of harsh, fluorescent lamps. Mix different light sources, like an accent lamp, a floor lamp, and an overhead lamp. If you want diffused lights, opt for nature-inspired, scented candle lights.
8. Steer clear of visible electronics
We are living in a generation where we can’t live without electronics like a flat screen TV, a laptop, a good sound system, and computer games, but they are often a source of distraction. Thus, they don’t belong in a zen interior. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice them for you to have a zen home – you just have to hide them. Built-in cabinets that disappear into the walls with the same color can hold a collection of your electronics. You may also hide them in your desk drawers or specially designed cupboards. If you have a desktop set that is used every day, then you can keep it on top of your desk. Just make sure that you hide wires and cables so it would not ruin the serene atmosphere you’re trying to achieve.
9. Engage the sense of smell
Zen interiors make use of scents to evoke different emotions, as well as to provide a calming and invigorating space. Use essential oil burners, scented candles, homemade linen sprays or fresh flowers to enhance the scent of your room. It’s about getting a bit of aromatherapy in your own home.
10. Add sources of relaxing sounds
Relaxing sounds made by water fountains and chimes make a great addition to a zen home. You may also integrate music so you can immerse yourself in your own type of peace. Consider playing instrumental music that will allow you to relax. And of course, you will be likely to use an MP3 player or an iPod, so remember to place this electronic gadget out of sight so your overall visual zen décor would not be distracted.
11. Opt for natural textiles
Bed covers, rugs, and throws should be made of natural materials with neutral colors, like wool, fleece, linen, mohair and plant fibers. Fabrics must be natural and comfortable. For pillows, silk fabric covers with texture would be the best bet.
12. Place green plants
Plants have this calming effect that only they can provide. Their soothing green colors and ability to provide air would help you achieve a more relaxing interior. One of the plants that are ever-present in a zen space is bonsai trees in low pots. You can also add hanging terrariums and ferns. Just avoid flowering plants that are high-maintenance or any plant that emits unwanted scents.