Japanese interior design

How to Decorate a Room Japanese Style

Japanese Interior Design: Philosophy, Tips and Ideas

A peaceful Japanese room with shoji screens, tatami mats, and simple wooden furniture
The simple beauty of a Japanese interior is quite astonishing. Meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail are cast against a natural, minimalist backdrop to create something simple yet intricate; an elegant harmony of contrasts. If you want to bring this kind of aesthetic to your home, read on to find out how to decorate a room Japanese style. I’ll take a brief look at the philosophy behind traditional Japanese interior design then offer up some tips to demonstrate how these principles can work in practice.

Philosophy Behind Traditional Japanese Interior Design

The Japanese aesthetic is deeply rooted in philosophy. Taoist and Shinto influences on interior design were covered in a recent post on Japanese table decoration. In short, the key principles include:
  • Simplicity and minimalism
  • Beauty, craftsmanship, intricacy and delicacy
  • The natural world
  • Impermanence and versatility
  • Imperfection and insufficiency
At first, these principles might appear to contradict one another. Yet when carefully combined, they can be made to work together in perfect harmony – as I’m sure you will have seen in photos or when visiting Japan.

How to Decorate a Room Japanese Style: 10 Top Tips

Here are ten tips that demonstrate how to decorate a room Japanese style in accordance with the aesthetic principles listed above. Red peony tenugui1. Keep spaces as open as possible with minimal furnishings. Furniture should be natural, simple and delicate. 2. Neatly stow away any clutter, preferably using hidden storage. 3. For the décor, stick to a neutral colour palette of black, white, off-white, grey and brown. 4. Incorporate natural materials and finishes such as fine wood, bamboo, paper, silk and lacquer. You could furnish the room with bamboo blinds, tatami mats and paper shoji screens, or decorate it with washi prints and lacquer boxes, for example. 5. Natural materials in their raw form, such as bamboo, pay homage to the aesthetic ideal of imperfection. 6. Ideally, the room should back out onto your garden. If not, place a pot plant in the room to enhance the natural element. 7. Add beauty and atmosphere with intricately crafted accessories. You could place an authentic Japanese vase on a sideboard or hang up a decorative Tenugui scroll, for example. 8. Alternate minor decorative elements on a seasonal basis for an sense of impermanence. 9. Shoji screens will enable you to make fundamental changes to the room’s shape, size and layout with minimal effort. They also cast interesting patterns of light and shadow. 10. You can further increase the room’s versatility with multipurpose furniture, e.g. a futon or ottoman. Large Sarasa fluted vaseThese examples of how to decorate a room Japanese style don’t cover everything, but they should at least give you an idea of the kind of effect you should be aiming for. Plenty of further inspiration can be found by browsing photos of Japanese interiors on home design websites like houzz, or simply by doing an image search on Google. Alternatively, head over to The Japanese Shop for a fantastic selection of authentic, high quality accessories with which you can decorate your home, including artwork, vases, tableware and more.
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