Photo: Texture in a mostly neutral room can add an extra element of design. Shutterstock
9. Use neutral colors with a bold contrast tone.
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!