Simplistic, modest, yet sophisticated – that’s a Japanese interior. It shows that beauty relies on natural harmony. It helps you appreciate the unadulterated state of nature and brings you to tranquility. It rejoices in the clean and uncluttered living and holds tightly to balance and order. If you are inspired with the Japanese culture and style, try to imitate it by following these tips and guidelines for you to achieve a Japanese-styled home:
1. Keep your interior clean and minimalistic
If there’s a word that can describe the Japanese concept of interior design, it’s Zen – a Japanese ideal inspired from Mahayana Buddhism that emphasizes the value of meditation. And what words usually come to mind when we talk about meditation? Yes, it’s peace, contemplation and serenity. To translate to interior decoration, the Japanese style is all about clean and simple lines, and a clutter-free environment. It maintains an open, flowing sensibility. To achieve it, get rid of the things you don’t really need and strip your home to the essentials. Remove clutter and undress your walls. Leave your garden or vista visible and unobstructed from the inside of your home.
2. Use natural colors
The Japanese style is inspired with the beauty of the world around us, like the earth, wood and stone. So the color choices for this style is derived from natural elements, as well. Use neutral, natural and subtle colors through using wooden panels for walls or floors, grey tones of stone for floors and wall paint, grass green accents and wooden shelving. To make it look modern, light and airy, choose creamy whites, light tans and beige, mid-tone wood hues, and subdued greens and grays. For an accent color, red is often used.
3. Use low and simple furniture
Most Japanese furniture are low-to-the-ground, simple and clean-lined. Tables for dining and tea ceremonies are very low, so chairs are missing – these are replaced by mats, pillows or low puffs. If there are chairs, they are also low and certainly made of wood, and the table has a height proportionate to it. Wardrobes, shelving and cabinetry are built-in and fitted to the wall. Couches are upholstered with cotton, leather and linen; and it’s also low.
4. Incorporate natural elements like wood, bamboo, rocks and stones
Japanese style interiors are known for the use of wood everywhere. From flooring to walls to screen grids and frames are made of wood. Try bringing it to your home using Western versions of Japanese-like woods such as maple, red pine, cypress and hemlock. Use bamboo for flooring or for decorative purposes like bamboo wall panels as an accent. Rocks and stones are essential to Japanese style too. Use rocks on the floor surrounding the bathtub area, or as an accent tile in a bathroom or kitchen. For your outdoors, you can add a rock garden to your landscape.
5. Add greenery
Among the natural elements, the one thing that will make your home look Japanese is plants. Traditional Japanese plants like bonsai and bamboo are perfect for your Japanese interior to give it a cultural touch, but any kind of deep greenery will do. If you really want to achieve a Japanese look, try ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arrangement). Having flowering plants like orchids are okay, but tone it down. Green foliage is still more preferred than colorful blooms.
6. Embrace natural light and sculptural lighting
Another important factor in a Japanese aesthetic is letting in plenty of natural lighting and at the same time, providing serene views of the beauty and colors of nature. It makes use of large, expansive windows and ceiling openings like skylights. So, thick and heavy draperies are avoided; instead, sheer and gauzy curtains or bamboo blinds are used. In terms of artificial lights, fixtures are not showy and bold. Instead, they are often concealed or diffused as much as possible. Recessed lighting and minimalist pendant lights are the best choice. Plus, the lighting levels are low, since bright lights are not calming. However, if you want to use lights as decoration, try paper lamps, cricket pendant lights and pendant lights made of rattan or wicker.
7. Install sliding doors and add screens
Because of the high cost of housing in Japan, their homes tend to be small. So residents try to conserve every square inch of space (that’s why removing clutter is also important). Sliding doors are used since they just slide open, saving space that swinging doors would take up. Shoji screens, which are made of translucent paper anchored by a wooden frame, is a traditional element in Japanese interior design. You may use these for your bedroom doors, or go for modern versions of these that are made of glass panels held in a wooden grid. Meanwhile, shoji screen dividers are typically used for defining areas or for decorative purposes. It’s best not to obscure them with furniture or accessories as you will block the light that filters through.
8. Add a soaking tub
Create a spa-like environment by adding a small, deep tub on your bathroom. In Japan, ofuro (which is bath, in English) is a tranquil tradition that are worth adapting to your Japanese-styled home. Water elements like small indoor fountains near the tub also adds to that peaceful vibe, encouraging meditation and calming the body from stress.
9. Cover your floors with tatami mats
The Japanese floors, which are usually made of bamboo or wooden planks, are often decorated with natural materials like tatami (straw) mats. Besides the shoji screens, tatami mats are one of the traditional items that symbolize Japanese style. These are sleek, minimalistic and natural looking – just the right flooring accessory for a tranquil Japanese interior. Besides floors, tatami mats are also used as table coverings or table runners.
10. Allot space for the entryway
A traditional Japanese home, no matter how small it is, has an entryway that is called a genkan. It’s where visitors are greeted, and where shoes are immediately taken off to put on indoor slippers. It is very important since the Japanese do not wear shoes inside the home, so the living areas are kept clean. For the flooring, stone or wooden tiles are commonly used.
11. Decorate with Japanese-themed items
Now, to really transport your guests to Japan, add minimal decorations that are traditional in Japan. Use bonsai trees in ceramic plants; Japanese lamps made of rice paper; Japanese ceramic vases and decorative china; decorative fans; a scroll with haiku; wall-mounted painting of a mountain, a wave, cherry blossom trees, autumn leaves, dragons, birds, flowers or a Japanese temple; or a portrait of a geisha, women in kimonos, samurais or ninjas. If you use portraits, paintings or any type of wall hangings, it’s best to display just one oversized piece. Also, remember to limit your decorations to just one or two in a room, since too many would be considered as clutter.