This minimalist aesthetic will give your home a calming, meditative feel. With its emphasis on creating a proper balance and keeping everything in its proper place so good energy can flow efficiently, this is not the design style for pack rats. With this decor philosophy, you will learn how to make the best use out of space (making it ideal for anyone looking to maximize the space of a tiny condo in the city), light and water.
A Brief History
It was 1190 AD when Zen Buddhism became popular in Japan, the ancient belief system which later developed design principles revolving around simplicity, functionality and minimalism. And ever since medieval times when people returned to the Western world from travels to Asia, we have been enamored with this Eastern design aesthetic.Even the fervor for bathing stems from the Japanese longstanding tradition of using the country’s natural hot springs.Thanks to the Japanese passion for ritual bathing (which in Buddhist and Shinto beliefs will purify you), the bathroom is one of the most important rooms in the home.
How to Get the Look
- The key principle of this spare aesthetic is to create a space that promotes peacefulness; one that is calm, understated and uncluttered by possessions. It is ideal for a refined lifestyle in a small space.
- Clean lines are essential l— so drapes should be replaced with Venetian slat blinds or roman blinds.
- In terms of colour palette, stick to a neutral palette of whites, with contrast accents in muted blues, greens, pinks and browns. To keep all of the neutral shades from becoming boring, play instead with texture.
- Add a sense of drama, with hits of black and white, such as using a Shoji screen to delineate separate areas within your living space.
- Bamboo is trendy now for its sustainability, but it’s long been the favoured material in Japanese decor. Shop for a few decorative bamboo accents or bamboo furniture, or pick up a fresh bunch of bamboo shoots (which according to feng shui will bring good luck, health and prosperity).
- For floor coverings, lay down seagrass and traditonial tatami mats in the areas where you want something soft underfoot.
- Opt for a low table to mimic the traditional Japanese “kotatsu” and invest in a few cushions with covers made of silks and patterned kimono fabrics for floor seating. Traditional kotatsus have built-in heaters to keep feet warm — as an alternative, consider installing under floor heating if you plan on laying down new floors.
- The Japanese believe that clutter is stagnant. Look for furniture that multitasks so that items can be discreetly tucked away.
- Light, especially natural light, is a key component to Japanese interiors — so heavy window treatments or anything interfering with natural light coming into the home, such as window boxes or large furniture placed in front of windows — is a no-no. Skylights and atriums are a great way to gain more natural light, if it fits your budget. And create a good balance of lighting in your home by using a variety of ceiling, table, wall and floor lamps, all installed with dimmers.
- Water is the third component essential to Japanese interiors. Invest in a fish tank as your water element (according to feng shui, fish bring good luck). If installing a large water feature in your home is not possible, a simple tabletop water feature works just as well.
- With water such an essential part of Japanese beliefs, the bathroom is of great importance. In fact, the Japanese believe that bathing is essential to wellbeing and traditionally, the shower is used to get clean, the bath to meditate. For a Zen bathroom, use materials and accessories made of natural goods, such as stone and wood, and as with the rest of your Japanese décor, tuck away towels, soaps and potions to maintain a streamlined, clutter-free existence.