Interior Design Styles: Japanese

Adele Shotton-Pugh | Posted

Japanese Interior design focuses on simplicity, high-contrast natural colours and balance. The Japanese philosophy of Ying and Yang promotes the idea of how important balance is for all areas of their lives. Try to achieve a good balance between the colours, objects and textures in the room.


The most traditional floor covering found in all Japanese homes is Tatami mats. These are placed onto the wooden floors in a pattern and are made of straw and rice. The borders are normally a dark tone to create balance.


Natural and neutral colours are common with a single splash colour that is brighter. Tatami mats under a black wooden table with a bright red bowl in the middle is a very typical look. Try to avoid multiple colour or too much colour as it is important to stick to neutral tones as the primary colour.

Window dressings

Shoji Screens and sliding doors are more common than windows with a curtain. These rice paper screens allow the light to come in as well as air once slid open. Shoji screens have a geometric frame and design to again focus on creating a look of balance and harmony. To create a similar look you can use white curtains as they will fit well with neatural colours needed.


A common area is a Japanese room is a display area called a tokonoma. These can be a collection of stones in a dish, a scroll or a holiday/special occasion item. They are normally in an alcove or in a corner on a small table and the object placed in the center. Using an overhead light to shine on the object will help to create the perfect look. A decorative table lamp is also a popular choice to display in your tokonoma.


There are many different kinds of Japanese accessories for every room in your home. Things like Buddhist statues and artwork, such as scroll painting are popular. A more Japanese country style home might also have folk art such as fabric kimonos or hand-painted tiles to add interest to the room. It is vital you keep accessories to a minimum though as empty space is a huge part of the Japanese look.

Getting it right

Minamilism is a key factor in Japanese interior design. De-cluttering by putting away knickknacks and magazines will help to keep the room looking correct. Open space is very important to allow for freedom of movement. It is not uncommon for a room to have a simple low table placed on a tatami mat with cusions around it and nothing more. You do not have to be this extreme but just try to keep things simple.

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