Depending on where you live, there are interior design approaches and styles that you will naturally gravitate towards. However, there are also those design trends that are growing in popularity worldwide. One such design style is Japandi.
Derived from fusing together traditional Japanese aesthetics and modern Scandinavian touches, Japandi, sometimes called ‘Japanordic’ or ‘Scandinese’, was born. In recent years, it continues to grow in popularity and preference for living room interior design.
Photo source: House and Home
Let’s begin by telling you a very brief introduction into Japandi interiors and what their core principles are.
Despite being of very different cultures and geographically far apart, the Scandinavian Peninsula and Japan share very similar ideals when it comes to the sanctuary of home. Japandi follows the concepts of ‘hygge’ – a Nordic term pertaining to a cozy and homey feeling – and ‘wabi-sabi’ – a Japanese ideology of finding beauty in the imperfect.
In essence, the Japandi interior design style embodies the idea of calm serenity and authenticity by being more connected to nature and yourself.
As we go along discussing the must-haves for your Japandi living rooms, we circle around four core principles: functionality, simplicity, craftsmanship and respect for nature.
Here are the 10 must-haves to recreate that gorgeous Japandi style in your living room:
1. Pick a warm white base color
When you visit homes in the Scandinavian regions or in Japan, you’ll notice that interiors are often covered in white walls. The western influence uses this approach as the best way to maximize natural light – bright, white interiors bounce this off better. On the other hand, the eastern direction sees it as a perfect complement to their preference of natural touches, shades and wood.
In a Japandi-inspired living room, your best bet is to pick a warm white base color for your walls. Veer away from going full-on white because it might seem stark, sterile and maybe too clinical. Instead, the warm white base allows you to stay true to the neutral palette while giving room for contrast and variety using texture and furniture.
Photo source: @japandi_interior
2. Build it up with a neutral color palette
With the Japandi-style interiors, you’ll play around with the neutral palette. Technically, it’s a hybrid between the bright and cool Scandi colors and traditional dark, rich earth tones of the Japanese. It’s all about neutral minimalism; therefore, don’t overwhelm your living space and only choose around a maximum of three to four colors to stay true to the style.
Combining that warm white wall with other neutral colors will result in a zen-like living room that can be both cozy and sophisticated. For the neutral palette, you can go for nudes, greys, terracotta, muted chocolate, earth and stone colors.
Sometimes, you might want to get more Scandi touches. In this case, you should try mixing it with minimal touches of soft greens and very pale blues and pinks. The easiest options for these are the pillows or throws, and maybe a vase and painting or two.
3. Play with contrast
In order for your Japandi living room not to fall flat or become too plain, make full use of those three to four shades to add contrast and keep the living space alive while maintaining coziness. Stay true to the muted touches and earthy tones and light, warm neutral colors to create that restrained contrast effect that is the signature Japandi style.
To create that healthy contrast, go for light colored wood, some metal and even cork. In Japandi, you’ll see a lot of wood usage, especially in furniture; you can follow this and play around with various dark and light stains for your wooden decor. Opt for richer wood stains when it comes to central furniture like the coffee table and keep this true for the side table too. Only go lighter for other accents.
Don’t be afraid to go a step further. Incorporate white or pale grey for your couch and rug. These will enrich and perfectly complement the cozy palette going on. And for the final touch, use deep grey or black as an accent or anchor for small decor and timeless pieces.
4. Add full wall or ceiling textures
As you continue to bring more warmth and coziness to your Japandi-style living room, the next step is to layer it with some texture. To achieve that visual contrast while keeping to the theme of minimalism and simplicity, you’ll have to go for textures that maintain the color palette.
In many Japandi living rooms, you’ll see one full length textured wall, sometimes ceiling, that creates visual interest but doesn’t stray from the style. Most commonly used are thin wooden panels, equal in width and space and placed side by side – this serves as your accent wall but it doesn’t overwhelm the space.
Photo source: Wallsauce
Another option is to use bamboo or cedar panels for a similar effect but just gives it a little more natural feel. Wood slats are also another way to create wall texture and will also allow you to go for a very dark tone compared to what you’ll achieve in wood and bamboo.
You can also bring in brick as an attractive textured and rustic element. It’s color shade and jagged, imperfect edges embrace the wabi-sabi concept of flawed natural beauty. If you feel the brick is rather on the dark side, you can easily paint over it to slightly mute the shade without losing its natural feel.
Alternatively, if you want to bring in a very Japanese touch, go for shoji screens. Very simple clean lines that can serve as wall design or clean, decorative dividers.
Photo source: Design to Inspire
5. Inject natural elements
Japandi interior style has profound respect for nature. Harsh natural conditions – earthquakes, typhoons, extreme cold – in Scandinavia and Japan taught them to respect nature and its power in order to live peacefully with it. As such, true Japandi style sees the space embracing diverse natural elements.
You already have wood, bamboo, stone or brick going on in your living room. To keep that balanced and unified Japandi design, be careful and limit your wood tones and textures to three varieties.
Therefore, to inject more natural elements, you can use indoor plants instead – they add a healthy, attractive pop of color that stays true to your Japandi scheme. Or, you can add stone decor which can inject class and style to your overall living space.
Other design elements that evoke that natural feel are terracotta pots – eye-catching clay-color that adds depth to the space also because of its sometimes unpolished textures. Others are jute or sisal rugs, linen or hemp, all very earthy, the type of add-on that doesn’t make noise when elevating the warmth of a space.
6. Create a free-flowing space
Since the tenets of Japandi interiors are simplicity and functionality, it follows that the space will look and feel like a minimalistic living room. Furthermore, when we adopt this popular style, we believe in quality over quantity. Furniture pieces and decor have their own purpose and do not crowd the space.
In this step, we allow our living rooms to breathe by promoting natural light and ventilation. You can say, it is akin to Marie Kondo’s idea of decluttering as you only keep things that are meaningful to you.
7. Wide indoor-outdoor flow
In order to maximize that concept of a free-flowing space, you blur the lines between the indoor and outdoors. Similarly, this part fully espouses the idea that nature is a central element and driving principle in the Japandi design. This harmony between the outdoor and indoor spaces embodies yin and yang. In Japan, this is called, ‘Onmyōdō’.
Photo source: Valverdi
Since you already have indoor plants – beautiful big house trees or elegant dried foliage on a table top – both breathing new life into your space, it’s time to up the ante more. Living rooms become expansive if you are able to create the perception of space. The best way to do that is by having floor-to-ceiling glass doors that allow you to experience your outdoor space without much effort.
But of course, not all living areas have this opportunity. So, the next, and equally best thing is to transform one side into a glass wall or a giant window – welcoming a generous amount of natural light with calming views of the outdoors.
Photo source: Design Anthology
8. Simple, clean furniture
When sprucing up and decorating your Japandi living rooms, always remember the four main principles – functionality, simplicity, craftsmanship and nature. Besides being known for its muted, earthy, neutral tones, this style also showcases low-profile furniture. Following the zen design principle of ‘Yūgen’, referring to the magnetic power of subtlety in design – suggesting there might be ‘something more’.
Simple furniture with clean lines, especially those showcasing craftsmanship in wooden designs, evoke feelings of serenity; being closer to the earth, nature. Clean Japandi furniture adds to the calmness of the place; it’s never chaotic to look at and to be in.
At the same time, the functionality and quality of each piece is given much thought because each element has a role to play in the space. No overcrowding, no overshadowing.
Mix the darker, elegant Japanese-style furniture with the lighter-colored Nordic accent pieces. This way, you maintain the sophistication while adding the coziness and comfortable feel.
9. Wood trickles to flooring
You can probably tell by now that wood is an important element in the Japandi style. Not only does it embody nature, maintains that neutral palette and provides simplistic elegance, but it is also versatile in its uses and forms.
While you have wooden tables, chairs and wall or ceiling texture, many Japandi spaces also use wood as flooring. This adds to the overall cozy and homey feel and makes the entire space more inviting without overwhelming or clashing with the other elements.
Side point, if you notice in bedrooms, wood floorings are a popular choice because it uplifts the comfortable feel of the room, compared to tiles.
However, for your Japandi living room, if you’re not feeling the wooden floors here, you can try having stone floors. Dark or light grey stone flooring keeps with the theme and can add more depth to the space because of its richer, more sophisticated shade. Just ensure that you don’t put the metallic or shiny type; otherwise, it might contrast the calming, earthy tones overall.
For either option, you can also add a light, textured rug to soften the effect of the hardwood or stone floors and keep to that calming aesthetic.
Photo source: Headerpop
10. Minimalist decor and accessories
Lastly, as you add the finishing touches to your Japandi living room, your small decor and accessories should also stay true to the minimalist approach. These are added textures and layers that will bring more warmth and coziness to your space while also bringing in your personality to the room.
First step, you can layer soft textiles with pillows, throws and sheer curtains. Or try a textured, super soft rug – you can go white or dark for this one.
Photo source: Cozyhome 101
Next, for your warm white walls, add a few artful statement pieces; these could be minimalistic paintings or graphic art. If you feel like your living room needs a tiny bit more contrast, you can add those during this finishing step.
And then, add a few warm lights or lamps here and there to brighten up the overall space. These could be statement decor on their own or another option is to install cove lights on the ceiling, on walls (behind the textured wall), or behind your couch. Warm lights do not disturb the serenity of the place; conversely, adding more to it.