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9 classic features of Japanese interior design

April Kennedy April Kennedy
Classic style living room by 宇佐美建築設計室 Classic
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Classic Japanese interiors brim with natural warmth and have a quiet, meditative feel. They encourage the occupants to enjoy the simple things in life and maintain a strong connection to the natural world. So it's no surprise that Japanese interior design is often minimalist and deeply connected to the concepts of ancient Zen philosophy.

But what makes a classic Japanese interior so immediately recognisable? Well, here at homify we love to pore over Japanese homes. So we've collected some of our favourite interiors that showcase a few key features in Japanese design. Who knows? Perhaps this might spark a few ideas on how to make your home that little bit more serene…

1. Sliding shoji walls

Sliding shoji walls or Japanese screens are one of the most recognisable elements in Japanese interiors. They are traditionally made from rice paper and used for internal walls. But modern variations are often have glass on one side and are used for external walls such as this. This project comes to us courtesy of Japanese architect Usami Sekkei.

2. Furniture set low to the ground

Japanese furniture is often set low to the ground. Sometimes chairs without legs are used to offer back support. More often, large flat cushions (zabuton) are used instead of chairs. Furniture is almost always wooden and minimalist in design.

3. Warm natural colour scheme

Colour palettes are often drawn from nature. Soft greys, subdued browns, greens and golden hues predominate. This results in a very neutral, calming decor.

4. Rock garden or natural elements

Japanese interior designers almost always design with a strong reverence for nature. Natural materials such as wood are a key part of design. Other common natural features include simple internal rock gardens, courtyards or houseplants. Some interiors even have stippled screens on the windows that filter sunlight and create beautiful, moving mosaics of natural shadow art on the wall.

5. Tatami room

A tatami room is such a key part of Japanese design that rooms are often measured by how many tatami mats they can fit. Shoes and even house slippers should always be removed before entering these rooms.

6. Genkan entrance

Shoes should always been removed at the entrance (Genkan) of a Japanese home. These areas are often set at a lower level from the rest of the home so dirt and dust doesn't enter. Shoes are usually arranged facing so the door so they can be slipped on again when leaving.

7. Minimalist aesthetic

A minimalist aesthetic is totally and utterly interwoven into the Japanese aesthetic. Homes are free from clutter and minimally furnished with simple bed rolls that can be placed to one side during the day. Built-in wooden furniture is prevalent and some authentic Japanese homes barely have a stick of furniture at all!

8. Transitional points that draw attention

Areas such as hallways and passageways are almost always carefully designed to draw attention to transitional points. They often feature a step that is meant to encourage one to acknowledge a shift in focus when ending one activity and starting another one.

9. Perfectly-framed views

A natural view is often framed to highlight the beauty of nature and turn it into a piece of decorative art. Just look at the simple wooden frame in the doorway here. While many other designers might have eliminated any visual barriers altogether, this Japanese design has added a horizontal rail. It runs parallel to he horizon line and highlights the gentle symmetry of the sea view.

If you are starting to fall in love with the simple serenity of Japanese interiors, you'll adore this project: A Modern Home with a Traditional Touch.

What do you think of the peaceful aesthetic of the Japanese interiors we have explored today?
Modern houses by Casas inHAUS Modern

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