What are the 10 key steps to introducing Japanese design into your home?
- Illumination & Lighting
- Natural Materials
- Ikebana (Flora and Fauna)
- Zen Space
- Clutter Free
- Modular Styles
- Shoji (Room Zoning)
- Void Windows
- Bright White
- Indoor Outdoor Flow
Illuminating Japanese Interior Designs
Lighting is a vital part of interior designs in a Japanese style. The illumination is seen as art and considered to be of significant importance to the zen appeal and philosophy.
Natural daylight is of foremost importance but is generally not at it is brightest when most of us are at home. We therefore have to turn to clever lighting that adds to the style and space we’re looking to create.
These clever interiors offer a fresh, enlivened addition to the room, connecting a positive vibe to enhance the inhabitants’ sense of balance and well-being.
Starting with the hallway (Genkan), it’s a place for ordered storage of shoes and a bright, welcoming illumination.
Subtle is key. Wall sconces and washers are ideal, as they provide a warm wash of light against the wall.
Ceiling lights can incorporate other key elements of Japanese design, which we’ll move on to later, but wood teamed with clean lines is a great option here.
Natural and sleek, unobtrusive lights work best in living rooms and lounges (washitsu). Using modular style aesthetics, providing a practical lighting solution that leaves every usable space illuminated.
You can use this space to create a real welcome for guests (Tokonoma), showcasing a prized focal point such as wall art or faux indoor trees.
Traditionally, dining tables are low and seating is provided on tatami mats. These are made of rush grasses that are woven around a rice straw centre. Gentle, yet firm, they are also comfortable enough to sleep on.
Whilst the aesthetic of these low tables encourages a unobstructive openness akin to adhering to the style, it’s not the most practical, or comfortable for those who are used to a more English way of dining.
You can, however, create a similar look by using clever, flush ceiling lighting or minimalist designs and choose low backed chairs, where the tallest part is of a similar height to the table.
Airiness is key to this space. Mattresses are generally kept low, or on the floor, so minimal ceiling lighting is a key look to use in the space over the bed.
Sleek bedside tables are great to keep clutter at bay. Ceiling pendant bedside lights are ideal in this space, creating a floating appearance. If wiring doesn’t allow for this, consider plugged in wall lights instead.
Keep a neutral colour scheme that is warm and inviting, grids on the walls to recreate the look of bamboo panelled doors (shoji) is a fabulous way to zone the window, inviting the outside in.
As a high traffic area, the kitchen can be a hard area to evoke a sense of calm. However, by applying the principles of Shibui (minimal and modest), with Kanso (clutter free), you can really help to achieve this look.
Using natural woods of a similar tone for the floors, cupboards and worktops will instantly bring a sense of calm. Ensure that you have plenty of storage and that you utilise it well. Utensils and other items should be stowed away.
Choose simple lights that don’t add clutter, but provide a good spread of illumination.
Wood. Blonde woods are best, but every Japanese styled room needs to feature this material.
Always show the grain and natural elegance of this material; stain it, don’t paint it.
Incorporating natural elements, such as flora and fauna, is key to the design and is often the only adornments expected in Japanese designs.
You won’t need to worry about sticking to native plants to Japan, instead, choose ones that you enjoy, or mirror what you have planted in your garden. Choose faux flowers and house plants to keep your home evergreen.
Carve out a bit of space for relaxation and meditation. Although meditation has been around for centuries, the NHS has started to prescribe this for patients’ mental wellbeing.
I’m sure we can all agree that having a bit of peace and quiet, away from our devices in an analogue alternate universe will benefit our sense of inner calm.
We live in a world where we can treat ourselves and once parted with our hard earned pennies, can tend to hoard them a bit!
Take the time to donate items that you no longer want or use. This will appeal to your charitable notions as well as helping you to have a cleaner, sleeker home.
Choose to only keep ornaments and keepsakes that have sentimental value or are in-keeping with the design of your room. Perhaps the others can go into a room which has less of a Japanese calming vibe?
Japanese homes in the urban cities are at a premium price and therefore can be amongst the smallest in the world. Modular ideas that can be used or adapted to suit a rooms’ changing needs are really popular.
Traditionally made of translucent panes within a lattice, grid or geometric frame, they are used to zone spaces within an open plan room.
For a modern twist, why not checkout lighting room dividers? These offer a modern convenience, a dual purpose of screening and light; perfect for Japanese philosophy!
Whilst not all of us are lucky enough to have the prettiest view from our windows, natural light is a win in any interior design.
Using lightweight materials, such as voile for window dressing is perfect to keep the outside flowing in. You can choose to pair with a blackout roller blind which works behind the scenes when privacy or darkness is required.
Many of us will choose a colour to kick start our creativity in a room design. White is often overlooked for being bland and clinical, yet it’s perfect in Japanese rooms. It’s a symbol of purity, a perfect backdrop for a serene living experience.
Why not choose some white lights to add to this sense of calm?
Indoor Outdoor Flow
Back to the view from the window, if you’re only treat is the neighbours fence or wall, add a window box to the outside of your window. Pop evergreens and bulbs that flower throughout the year.