Photo: Texture in a mostly neutral room can add an extra element of design. Shutterstock
There are so many interior design styles and combinations, and sometimes our taste doesn’t fit into one category. That’s when we look to hybrids of styles for more inspiration, and Japandi is one such hybrid. It’s aesthetic combines the modern, rustic feel of Scandinavian design with the elegance and fine lines of Japanese styles. It’s the best of both worlds! Scandi design favors a humble, monochrome pallet to create a simple and peaceful environment, incorporating neutral shades of creams, grays, and natural warm wood shades for a cozy home feeling. Japanese style has deeper, richer tones and utilizes darker woods and bold colors.
Japanese and Scandi styles work well together because they emphasize the importance of functionality in simplicity, and their differences bring in different elements that complement each other well. While the Scandinavian palette tends towards more neutral, muted colors, the Japanese palette brings in a few intentionally chosen bold or bright colors, making the whole room feel light and open without feeling clinical or stark. Now that you know a bit more about what Japandi design is, let’s look at how to incorporate it into your home!
15. The marriage of the two design styles follow minimalist design ideals.
True minimalism can be hard to achieve, but there are ways to fake it! Minimalistic style is a design and art concept that contradicts excessiveness. Thus, it refers to extreme spareness and simplicity. It began in the 1950s in a movement away from consumerism and abstract expressionism. It seeks to bring all elements down to their roots or their essential qualities. Likewise, Japandi strives to take things down to their primary function while keeping their warm, timeless elegance. Japandi adopted other minimalist elements like the open floor plan and clean lines, but we will discuss them later.
If you have too many things and can’t pare down your belongings to the roots, then you can try “faux minimalism.’ To do this, use natural containers like boxes and wicker baskets or built-ins and folding screens to hide excess items and create the illusion of minimalism. Having a home for all your things will make your space feel clutter-free and maintain your Japandi aesthetic without depriving you of the things you want or need. In fact, using sustainable materials like wicker and bamboo is part of the Japandi aesthetic, so keep that in mind as you select your items!
14. Focus on maintaining simple, clean lines for Japandi style.
Minimalism aims for a “less is more” mantra, but Japandi is not entirely like minimalism. With minimalism, the focus is on the simplicity of the design. In Japandi decor, simplicity is the aim rather than extreme spareness, so look for sleek lines and clean edges when choosing your items. The lines do not have to be vertical or horizontal, of course, but they are more satisfying to look at. Focus on functionality and look for flat, smooth surfaces that create bold statements. Ideally, Japandi furniture should be lower to the ground and of a similar height to make an equal amount of wall space. We will touch on color palettes later, but keep neutral colors in mind for now.
Japandi is human-centric, not style-centric; it is not rigid. It places the needs of the human above the aesthetic desires, so do not stress about whether or not something “fits” perfectly in style and go more with what you think works. After all, this is your space, and it is about you. The beauty of a hybrid style in design is that you can take all the best parts of each design and leave out whatever you don’t like. As long as you are happy, no one else’s opinion matters!
13. Use natural materials whenever possible while employing a Japandi design.
There are endless natural materials at our disposal for design purposes, so choosing these over more synthetic or industrial items is more in line with the Japandi aesthetic. Minimalism is not just a physical aspect of the design; it also considers the spiritual connections humans form with their surroundings. If you need suggestions on some natural items to use when decorating a room, here are some you might not have considered: iron, marble, leather, wood, bamboo, rattan, seashells, and feathers!
Utilizing natural materials in your design is calming, elegant, and timeless. Natural accessories look even more inviting in natural light and create a relaxing, intimate home day or night. Make sure to choose pieces that resonate with you; you don’t want to select items just because they are composed of a particular material. Your home should be your shelter. And don’t forget the best natural element of all: sunlight. Try to let in as much natural light as possible, as that is the cheapest and most beautiful natural element we have!
12. Japandi is about simple and warm textures in addition to the natural elements and straight lines.
Texture in a room is not just about the fabric type; it is also about the design and texture. Choose your textures carefully to create a warm, cozy environment. Texture may be an easy buzzword to say, but let’s explore what it means. It is not just about a fuzzy blanket artfully thrown on a couch. It is more about creating visual texture – marrying rough and smooth to create something pleasing. The texture is a great way to create accents and draw attention to a room or part of a room.
To create a rich design, consider layering different sources of texture. It does not need to come only from fabric or furniture finishes, though that certainly is a great way to achieve it. Anything in the room can create texture. A polished mantle can contrast beautifully against a fuzzy or tassel rug, for example. Contrast can also create beautiful levels of surface in a room! If you are a fan of statement pieces, go for bigger, understated furniture like velvet sofas in neutral colors – the fabric would be the stunner in this case.
11. Using plants in interior decorating is easier than you think!
Though indoor plants can be seen as yet another chore to worry about, there are huge benefits (both physical and emotional) to having plants in your space. Many plants are easy to care for, so make sure you pick one you are comfortable taking on. Some of the easiest plants to care for include snake plants, pothos, aloe vera, and money trees. Choose plants or flowers that connect with other textures in the space regarding their leaf’s glossiness or shades of green, for example. Similarly, you will want to match their vase or pot to the textures in the room as well.
Try for a difference in petal or leaf shapes and sizes, again creating texture with your living furniture. Large plants work great in a sparser space, while smaller plants are great in areas where overcrowding is not a concern. Placement is also easy: you can put larger plants in corners, and smaller plants can be used as centerpieces or accessories on shelves. Try not to overcrowd your space; remember that we strive for a more functional space than an overwhelming one. Most importantly, consider the lighting of where you place your plants. You do not want to doom them to death by over — or under-lighting them. The Japanese art of flower arranging, called Ikebana, actually encourages you to spend time arranging your plants. That gives you time to reflect on your day and learn from nature, an integral part of Japanese culture.
10. Blend geometric and playful patterns for the perfect Japandi look.
With Japandi’s “imperfect beauty,” you can blend bold and beautiful Japanese patterns with the more playful Scandinavian patterns for a fascinating hybrid look. Japanese decor is known for utilizing beautiful designs to incorporate lovely cushions and curtains, for example. Though you should avoid too much decorative detail, statement pieces are welcome. Japandi doesn’t mean boring walls – consider a gorgeous Japandi wallpaper to contrast your more neutral furniture pieces. Other options to bring in a playful mix could be as easy as adding a comfy afghan or blanket!
Though you want patterns that are different, try to make sure they have a common thread. Does the blanket you chose have a hue that ties it in with the rest of the room, for example? Try to connect it into at least three areas. For example, maybe the green in one of the cushions matches the green plant you chose. No matter what, you don’t want your elements to look mismatched; some cohesion element is lovely and brings the room together nicely.
Japandi colors are typically based on the more Scandi palette, like beige, cream, oatmeal, tan and stone colors rather than basic whites and brights. Instead of bright contrasts, think of muted, harmonious colors that flow together without being boring, like pinks, blues, greens, greys, or darker accent colors that draw inspiration from Japanese design. These blends of colors introduce warmth into your space rather than stark, sterile colors. Think carefully about the art you display. Japanese and Scandinavian art are very different, but they both can be utilized to liven your spaces up and add other elements and tones where needed.
Japanese design is based on bold colors, like red, black, and gold. These colors carry significant meaning: red denotes strength, blood, and passion. It is often worn to weddings, and red dishes are even served on important occasions! Gold, predictably, refers to wealth and prominence, while black denotes mystery, night, and anger, so think twice before incorporating a lot of that color. Dragonflies, which is frequently seen in Japanese symbology and Japandi patterns, is considered a symbol of happiness, courage, and strength. Brushstrokes, typography, and gradients are also commonly seen in Japanese design, so these would be outstanding elements to incorporate to make your Japandi more authentic to its original inspiration. Scandi design relies much more heavily on airy, neutral colors in its design. Because of the long, dark winters in Scandinavian territories, the interiors are usually painted lighter, more neutral colors to help keep spaces bright and airy. Any colors used are soft and understated to keep the area feeling bright. Since Japandi is less concerned with endless winter and surviving it, you can incorporate some contrast and cite artistic liberties.
8. Be an advocate for the use of eco-friendly, sustainable, and local materials.
Though you might have had to at one point, you no longer have to choose function over style when it comes to eco-friendly or sustainable materials. There are endless designs that can satisfy the Japandi aesthetic while remaining eco-friendly. Sometimes, you can even find these items locally! For example, driftwood can be turned into beautiful decor items. If that’s not your style, look for specific things in your area in local shops. That will save you (and the environment) any shipping costs you might incur.
You may be wondering how to keep an eco-friendly home without sacrificing style. You can make sure your light bulbs are all CFL, LED, or halogens. For the fixtures themselves, bamboo or jute goes excellent with the Japandi aesthetic! If you plan to utilize wood in your decor, look for reclaimed wood instead of new wood since wooden furniture requires cutting down living trees. Other materials you may not have considered might include recycled metal, bio-glass, and cork!
7. Invest in high-quality furniture. Bespoke is better if you can afford it!
One component of Japandi is the exact craftsmanship of the items we own. Both Japanese and Scandi designs emphasize the importance of function and aesthetics. Though mass-produced furniture is convenient and affordable to most, it does not usually consider the concepts of Japandi. To stay true to Japandi, we have to ask a few questions. Are the materials used eco-friendly and sustainable? Who is making them? Can we get multiple uses out of the same item?
Wabi-sabi, one of the concepts of Japanese design, is the simple form executed through craftsmanship. It contends that each created item is beautiful in its tiny imperfections; it is uniquely imperfect. The world is more beautiful when we accept these imperfections instead of trying to combat them. Characteristics of wabi-sabi are far from emphasizing perfection as mass-production does. Instead, it focuses on simplicity, asymmetry, roughness, and the appreciation of natural objects.
6. Focusing on one or two statement pieces can take your space from ordinary to extraordinary in no time.
The thing about statement pieces is that they have to stand out. In a Japandi-style room, the space will be decorated with mostly neutral tones, so you can allow yourself to have a few surprise pieces in there. That is where you can mix it up. Juxtaposition is the name of the game here. Try to do something in this space you haven’t done yet. Statement pieces don’t just have to be a pop of color, though that is undoubtedly allowed; they can be anything that speaks to you. If you are excited about a specific pattern or color, then go for that too.
Though you don’t need to match your statement piece to anything, it must not stand out like a sore thumb. Instead, try to tie it into the area in three accent areas, as we talked about with blending geometric patterns. Once you are done adding your statement pieces, colors, and patterns, take a step back and look at the overall space. Consider taking a picture to see how it all blends. Sometimes moving something from one spot to another makes all the difference!
5. Though low bed designs are more Japanese than Scandi, Japandi has taken on this design element.
Japanese people have a long history of sleeping on tatami mats – straw mats made of rice – and continue to employ this habit even today. These mats are lightweight and breathable, making them perfect for climate regulation. Many experts believe that sleeping on them is better for the spine, though someone unused to the habit may not think that! As an evolution from the tatami mats, Japanese beds are very low to the ground and tend to have a wooden platform surrounding the mattress, mimicking the tatami mat.
As with most of the Japandi style, stay away from metals when looking for a frame. Try to stick to wood or other natural materials. If you prefer, you could go with the mattress and low box spring, though you will want to make sure your comforter hides that. Some experts claim that lower beds are healthier and can eliminate back pain, improve blood circulation, and even create a sense of motivation and lead to positive change. No guarantees, but it might be worth a try!
4. A significant element to incorporate from the Japanese style is the Shoji wall or panel.
A shoji screen is a translucent folding or sliding screen usually used as a divider or partition to offer privacy and still provide light through the room. It is typically made of a wood frame covered with paper, wicker, or a piece of thin fabric. More ornate ones may have artwork of blossoms or bamboo covering the panels, though that is not the standard style. More Westernized shoji screens would be considered room dividers, though shoji screens are typically placed on tracks and slides.
Shoji acts like curtains and offers visual privacy but does not block sounds, encouraging a home’s inhabitants to speak and move softly, calmly, and gracefully out of consideration for the other inhabitants. If you are considering a Japandi style, you most likely do not have ready-made Shoji screens, but you can buy them almost anywhere online these days. Though they may not be entirely authentic, consider yourself lucky – original shoji were the exterior walls too, which meant no central cooling and heating!
3. Multi-functionalism is not only fun — it is a necessity in Japandi design!
Having a minimalistic viewpoint is great for the wallet and the soul, but you still need a place to put your earthly possessions, right? Storage is one of the most important things when considering a space to live, especially if you watch any of the shows on the home design network, but there is only so much storage money can buy. If you are trying to keep a space free of clutter, you will need items to serve more than one purpose. Remember, we’re looking for quality over quantity here!
Multi-functionality serves a great Japandi purpose because it also addresses a few other Japandi components: eco-friendliness and wabi-sabi. Don’t forget to look for something with clean lines and natural materials to make it fit perfectly with your newly chosen aesthetic! There are so many ideas out there of transformational furniture that can serve multiple purposes. The sunflower chair, a bookshelf, or a storage ottoman also serves as a table or a bench. Interestingly, the multifunctional aspect can also apply to spaces, not just your items. That is where a Shoji screen, or a room dividing panel, would be useful.
2. Art in Japandi style can follow either of the inspiring designs – Japanese or Scandinavian – but it should be displayed very thoughtfully.
Japandi’s marriage of Japanese and Scandinavian styles isn’t entirely out of the blue. Danish architects and artists began traveling to Japan over 150 years ago, searching for new inspiration, which was then incorporated into their work. This early Japanese influence can be seen in Scandi’s open floor plans and their love of minimalism. The two styles highly respect artisanal handiwork and local craftsmanship, so their combination into a hybrid style makes sense on many levels.
Art can be a perfect finishing touch in most rooms. It adds something you might not have known was missing until it was there. As we discussed with craftsmanship, it could be valuable to look for unique or local art pieces instead of canvas prints or mass productions of an image. That can only add to your home’s individuality and make it more special to you. And remember, art does not necessarily mean paintings! Your art could mean a wall tapestry, a sculpture, or a handmade pottery piece – any special accessory that speaks to you.
1. Japandi is more than a design aesthetic; there are philosophies connected to the designs.
We have mentioned hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), but let’s explore it a bit more. It’s essentially the concept of creating happiness in your everyday life and making your home a sanctuary. It is a state of mind. Though we would all love for our homes to look like magazine covers, that seems like it would be devoid of happiness and full of stress – nothing could be out of place. Hygge allows for family, friends, and memories to take up our space. But with less clutter, it maintains that open and clean atmosphere.
If you want more hygge in your life, add soft, comfy cushions and large, fluffy blankets. That will make it impossible to walk into your home and not think, “I want to live here!” For the ultimate hygge, however, you will want to create a spa-like experience in the bathroom. That means going all-out: rainfall showerheads, plush rugs, giant garden tubs, candles to set the right ambiance, fluffy towels, and all the best aromatherapy smells to make your stress melt away!