Clean, fresh lines, the use of co-ordinated colours, natural materials and feature walls – these are the dominant features of Japanese interior design. They work on the concept of minimalism and the principle of zen – meaning that you should aim for an enlightened and meditative state in your daily life.
The design of Japanese homes is based on ‘Ma’, which can be translated as ‘negative space’. This idea is about creating a balance between the space you live in and the furniture and objects you fill it with. It is about fostering a calming atmosphere in your home.
The clean, defined lines of this living room emphasise the notion of ‘ma’ – that the most powerful aspect of your design is often the space between your furnishings. In the example above, there is a clear separation between areas, and the neutral colours really add to the feeling of space.
The Japanese aesthetic is balanced between simplicity and an artistic exuberance often influenced by western style paintings and architecture. A bold feature wall is a key part of contemporary Japanese design, but it is also an excellent way to add traditional Japanese motifs to your home.
To Colour or Not To Colour?
If you’re concerned that a simple colour palette will leave your home feeling stark and cold, then consider including natural materials in the design. They will help to soften what might otherwise have been an austere space, giving it a light yet warm feel.
A home inspired by Japanese design ideas should express a sense of balance, and this bathroom certainly manages to do that. It has strong, symmetrical lines, which convey the feeling of a thoughtful, meditative space.
Bring the Outside Inside
The use of natural materials is one way to achieve this, but the design of your home can itself create a window onto nature – quite literally as this imaginative example, where the view has been beautifully framed by the circular window, demonstrates. In fact, many Japanese interior designs use clever methods to break down barriers between the inside and outside.
Zone Your Home
This interior uses many of the essential elements already mentioned – natural materials, negative space, a feeling of balance – but it also utilises zones. In the picture above, we can see how different levels have been employed to break up the space, although it is more usual for screens and curtains to be used in Japanese homes to create or conceal areas within a room.
Use of Light
Lighting is another important element for creating an authentic Japanese-style interior. Most, if not all, of your lighting should be concealed or diffused in order to fill your home with a soft, warm atmosphere. This will highlight the natural, clean aspects of the Japanese design.
A Minimalist Palette
When it comes to adding colour to your minimalistic Japanese interior, less is, of course, more. The example above shows how a small injection of a bright colour into a space can make all the difference. If you’re looking for more than just a splash, though, consider more muted shades like chocolate, moss-green or beige.
One of the main features of traditional Japanese homes is the way in which people sit and interact on the floor. This doesn’t mean you have to fill your home with tatami mats, though. Large floor cushions can produce the same kind of atmosphere; and they’re often just as comfortable to relax on as a sofa.
A Taste of Japan
Of course, stark minimalist designs aren’t for everyone. If you’re only after a touch of Japanese style, then incorporating some of the aesthetic, the cultural motifs, or the common materials into your interior will be enough to give it a Japanese flavour. Here, the vibrant cherry blossom silk wallpaper adds a gentle touch to the room without overpowering it.