Bring Nihon Into Your Home
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Bring Nihon Into Your Home

How to Create a Japanese-Inspired Interior Design

We recently visited Japan, and as the title of this post implies, it was a bit difficult to bridge the language gap there, as not many people spoke English. However, that didn’t let us stop from enjoying our time there and discovering the key Japanese interior design and architectural elements.

Traditional houses in Kyoto

Traditional houses in Kyoto

Balance, nature and simplicity are all popular in Japanese interior design. In order to achieve this look, we need to be careful about keeping spaces clean and avoid accumulating clutter. Special attention should be given to the lighting design. 

The lobby of The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto

The lobby of The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto is a mix of traditional elements with a contemporary twist.

There are many interesting and practical natural materials that are common in Japanese homes, like bamboo, and many ways in which the interior designer can incorporate them into space.

Planning the Layout

Floor plans are the first thing to consider when building or renovating a residence. Not everyone will want to do such an extensive remodelling, but those who can should seek authenticity. Open floor plans are common, with sliding panels allowing spaces to be closed off when needed. Large windows for an abundance of natural light and glass doors with easy access to gardens make it possible to feel as if the inside and outside of the home are one. The rooms should have solid paint colours, traditionally white or beige. Wood trim and bamboo floors are common throughout.

Sliding panels

Sliding panels

Plants are common in Japanese style

Plants are common in Japanese style

The design of a Japanese bedroom is simple and clean.

The design of a Japanese bedroom is simple and clean.

Designing the Bedroom

The design of a Japanese bedroom is also simple and clean. A minimalist approach with low beds and white, beige or pale yellow walls helps the room look serene. Window covers are usually blinds or rice paper panels. The panels are actually sliding doors called shojis, and they can be installed to just cover the windows, or they can act as a partition to create a separate space within the room. The doors and the shades are able to provide privacy, but still allow the natural light to filter in.

Inside of the typical Kyoto Machiya house

Inside of the typical Kyoto Machiya house

Building the Bathroom

In order to truly achieve an authentic Japanese-inspired bathroom, there has to be a soaking tub. These can take any shape, recessed into the floor or raised, but they must be large enough to allow the user to be completely immersed. Additional bathroom ideas include adding more natural elements. Plants, bonsai trees, natural stone features or wall coverings, and bamboo floors are common in this style of design. Clear glass shower doors and large windows that make the room look larger, brighter and more open, are also important.

Bonsai

Bonsai

Adding Artificial Light

Staying true to the Asian design concept means selecting the right lighting fixtures as well. Shoji lamps are a popular decorative option. These are rectangular lantern-style lights that use rice paper rather than glass around the bulb. The paper can be plain or decorated with Japanese designs like bamboo or other patterns. They can be table lamps, floor lamps or hanging lanterns. Additional light fixtures include globes, often crafted from bamboo and rice paper. Many homes also use recessed lighting in order to keep the design clean, or pendant fixtures which can provide ambient light to specific work areas.

Rice paper lighting fixture

Rice paper lighting fixture

In order to mimic the style of Japanese interior design one should feel peaceful, comfortable and relaxed. Avoid adding too many accessories or hanging too much wall art. Do not use area rugs, but let the beauty of the flooring show. Each room should look meditative and include the bare minimum of furnishings necessary, in order to keep the space open and free from any distractions.

 

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