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Holiday Homes

Using an exotic foreign holiday as the basis for a design theme is a fantastic way to inject some verve and excitement in your home. Obviously the more far flung and mysterious the country you visited was the better, so if you spent a boozy two weeks in Majorca or Tenerife its probably best that you relive your hols strictly through the snaps you took whilst there- wicker donkeys and dentist chair shot drinking games just don’t look right in anyone’s living room!

With cheaper and more regular flights taking us to all corners of the globe, the world is getting smaller so it is not too unlikely that many of you have been to some incredible, and culturally alien places over the last few months and it is those kind of places that can provide really exciting themes. As an example, I’m going to look at how Japan can be used to particularly great effect.

As there are a quiet a few aspects to Japanese design and it would be bad for the serenity of the room to attempt to include all of them, it is best to spend a little time identifying what you enjoy most about Japanese design. Whether it’s a mass of cherry blossoms, warm wood or clean lines, let it guide your choices for a room.

While highly stylized furniture and accessories can be expensive, using one particular element as inspiration can help you pick items of lesser cost but of high impact in a room. For example using a typical Japanese feature such as the lacquering of furniture as your main point of reference when choosing what to buy, keeps your brief simple and therefore less likely to incur lots of hidden costs that eventually mount up to an expensive exercise.

You should definitely try to keep clutter to a minimum. Japanese design is all about clean lines and simple beauty.

Too much clutter in a space can detract from a Japanese room’s charm and impact- besides, less clutter means less furniture and accessories to buy, which obviously means less cost.

Use a variety of woods. High contrast is another signifier of Japanese room design. White walls blended with bamboo and white shoji screens and dark wooden armoire pieces can add contrast to a room and give it a distinctly Japanese feel.

Save lots of money by choosing areas rugs over whole-floor carpets. Tatami mats are a typical feature in Japanese rooms. While genuine tatami mats made from rice straw can be quite expensive, a sisal or seagrass rug can be a convincing and inexpensive stand-in and provide the warmth and mood of a Japanese room.

Consider art carefully. Japanese artwork is often simple and streamlined. For the more creative minded, Japanese themed artwork can be created easily from ink and paper. If you are in the market for something more elaborate, search local art dealers or department stores for Japanese-inspired pieces. Also consider using typical Japanese design elements like shoji screens as hanging art pieces.

Japanese culture is closely intertwined with nature, and nature reflects in Japanese design so remember to add some greenery. Consider adding a plant like bamboo to a room to give it additional colour and a burst of life. Bamboo is easy to care for and you can purchase it at most DIY or department stores.

When looking to finish off with the sort of details that make a house a home, simply being careful to choose the correct material finishes can make all the difference. When looking for a table lamp for instance, a paper shade lamp will already have a Japanese feel. Or with window curtains, any material featuring elements of nature (especially birds and flowers), will also intrinsically have an oriental feel.

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