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How to Add Japandi Design Flourishes to Your Home

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Japandi interior design marries the timeless elegance of Japanese design with the modern flair of Scandinavian style to create a clean, serene aesthetic that's the perfect antidote to a stressful world.  Who couldn't use more calm and serenity today? Here's what you should know about Japandi style history and elements as well as some tips to help incorporate Japandi style into your home.

In This Article:
  1. What Is Japandi Style?
  2. Elements of Japandi Interior Design
  3. Choosing Furniture for Japandi Spaces
  4. Accessorizing Japandi Style

1. What Is Japandi Style?

Japandi is a portmanteau word made from Japan and Scandinavian. It describes an interior design style and aesthetic that combines the clean, modern lines of Scandinavian furniture and architecture with the simple, timeless elegance of Japanese design. It's a marriage of styles made in interior design heaven. The rounded angles that make Scandinavian furniture so modern and appealing soften the hard corners and lines that characterize Japanese furniture, while the simple, natural colors and design elements of Japanese interior design bring a natural warmth to the modern, almost mechanical lines characteristic of Scandinavian interior design. The end result is clean and uncluttered, but comfortable and serene. When executed well, Japandi style feels lived-in, but in a beautiful way.

Where Japandi Style Came From

One of the elements that Japanese and Scandinavian styles have in common is the belief that the things around you should be simple, functional and beautiful all at once. A main principle of Scandinavian furniture design is that form follows function, but function and form should never detract from eye appeal. 

Similarly, Japanese interior design takes its cue from the concept of wabi-sabi — the belief that we find beauty in humble simplicity, being connected to nature and recognizing the beauty that lies in imperfection. At the core of both is the belief that removing distractions from our environment — and by extension, our lives — we can find both beauty and meaning.

The Japandi design aesthetic has been around since around 2017, an offshoot of the minimalist design trend that has captivated interior designers since the early 2000s. It reflects the growing tendency among modern stylists to combine elements from different design styles, refreshing them and making them new again. (Check out our article on cottagecore design for another example.) Similar to another popular trend, fusion cooking, it's an innovative and beautiful result of the cross-pollination of cultures in our increasingly interconnected world.

2. Elements of Japandi Interior Design

Japandi style starts with the elements that Scandi and Japanese styles have in common — light neutral colors, natural materials, open spaces and uncluttered design — and blends them into each other in a way that the differences between them accent rather than clash with each other. If you're looking to create a Japandi-inspired space, these are the main elements to incorporate into your design:

  • Uncluttered space
  • Neutral colors in a natural palette
  • Natural materials: wood, stone, fabric
  • Simplicity
  • Few pieces of furniture
  • Functional but beautiful accessories

Here's how to incorporate each of those elements into your living and working spaces.

Uncluttered Space

The main element of Japandi design is open, uncluttered space(s) — not just the whole room, but every part of it. 

Do a full Marie Kondo, and remember that it's not a one-time fix or tidying up. Japandi, like other modern design trends, is as much about lifestyle as it is aesthetics. Interior designer Rhiannon Lee of Oleander and Finch Design explains that Japandi minimalism isn't bare, it's intentional. Each piece that you decide to keep should have a purpose, and bring something meaningful to your design.

Tip: One way to open up space and promote that uncluttered feeling is to choose just a few pieces of furniture, and keep them low to the ground. Hero pieces — sofas, beds, dining tables — can anchor a space, with a few smaller pieces to accent and accessorize them. By keeping furniture profiles low, you create open space at eye level and increase the natural light flow throughout the room.

 

Neutral Colors and a Natural Palette

The Japandi color palette borrows from both Scandi and Japanese interior design. Walls and floors feature neutral, natural colors — soft cream, beige or warm gray create a peaceful spaciousness and reflect natural light. 

Add wood furnishings — blond wood works well, but also consider darker woods like teak and mahogany, or woods with an espresso or driftwood stain finish. Use accent colors sparingly in your design, focusing on muted blues and greens, deeper grays, lavender, pink, and pearl gray. Bring in richer colors with plants and a few pops of lacquered red or deep gold.

Tip: Use rich colors, like indigo, forest green or lacquered red, as color pops, but use them sparingly and intentionally — the picture frame on a Japanese print, for example, or vases on a set of floating shelves. They should draw the eye without distracting from the overall feeling of calm and peace.

 

Natural Materials

The focus in Japandi style is on natural materials — wood, stone, jute, cotton, linen, silk and wool. 

Natural wood and stone floors — usually in lighter colors — maintain the light airiness of the space, and give you a background for large pieces of furniture and functional rugs or floor pillows. Keep the colors neutral on larger pieces, but have fun with small accents, like throw pillows — only a few! — or a piece of handmade pottery. 

For woods, consider rattan, bamboo, wicker or cane — left natural, please — in addition to teak, mahogany and walnut. Choose upholstery with an eye to both color and texture — linen, cotton and flax blends in light gray or beige work well within the Japandi aesthetic — and opt for pieces that are easy to clean — duvet and pillow covers that can be removed, for example.

Tip: Don't be afraid to add your own favorite colors, even if they don't properly "fit" the color palette. The beauty of the warm neutral palette is that it will complement just about any color you choose. So go ahead and hang that print with huge red poppies, or stand that tall, teal vase in the corner (filled with feathery palm fronds, perhaps?)

 

Simply Functional and Beautiful

Everything in a Japandi style home should embody the principles of simplicity, functionality and beauty. Luckily, the popularity of minimalist design trends means that you've got a lot of choices when it comes to furniture and accessories. Look for simple, clean lines and natural materials in furniture, and colors taken from nature for fabrics, upholstery and accessories.

3. Choosing Furniture for Japandi Spaces

Choose functional furniture with few fussy design details. The clean lines of Danish modern furniture — think Ikea — work very well within this style, but go for pieces that have rounded or natural edges and a low profile. If your rooms are larger, you can choose bigger (or more) pieces without making the room look crowded and cluttered, but in smaller spaces, keep the furniture footprint smaller. 

Dark, warm wood (espresso brown, walnut, and teak) help anchor the furniture against light neutral background colors. Futons and low tables help maintain the flow of color and light in the room. In the kitchen, consider bar seating with minimalist tables, or a set that allows stools to slide completely beneath the table to preserve the flow of movement. In the bedroom, a platform bed with storage drawers combines the functions of two pieces of furniture, opening up floor and wall space. In the bath, swap out boxy cabinets and vanities for pedestal sinks and slatted shelves, and bring nature in with potted plants that add life and greenery for a spa feeling.

Accessorizing Japandi Style

Keep design accents simple and few in keeping with the uncluttered simplicity that characterizes Japandi style. A few ideas to spark your inspiration:

  • Simple floating shelves with one or two accent pieces on each
  • A tall modern lamp to stand behind the sofa
  • A bamboo stand in the corner holding a stunning fern or palm
  • A moveable bamboo folding screen to set off areas of the room
  • A hand-crocheted blanket folded across the foot of the bed
  • Nesting ottomans to serve as extra seating and tuck away when not in us

4. Accessorizing Japandi Style

Keep design accents simple and few in keeping with the uncluttered simplicity that characterizes Japandi style. A few ideas to spark your inspiration:

  • Simple floating shelves with one or two accent pieces on each
  • A tall modern lamp to stand behind the sofa
  • A bamboo stand in the corner holding a stunning fern or palm
  • A moveable bamboo folding screen to set off areas of the room
  • A hand-crocheted blanket folded across the foot of the bed
  • Nesting ottomans to serve as extra seating and tuck away when not in use
Tip: If there's one thing recent design trends have in common, it's minimalism — everyone is looking to declutter, de-stress, and make their lives simpler. Minimalism offers many benefits — it's easier to maintain when you don't have a bunch of stuff to clean up, for one. Even better, research shows that you and your brain work better when your environment is free of clutter. That's why the first step in redesigning your home involves moving all the non-essential stuff out of your living space. If your home is short of storage for off-season decorations, out-of-season clothing, and just about anything else, we can help. Check out other design ideas on our blog for more inspiration to create your perfect living space.
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