Japanese minimalism: create that zen-like feeling in the home

Autumn’s here already. Embrace the season of change by letting go – organising, decluttering and making space for a calm and harmonious home.

Over the years, a movement that continues to grow in popularity is minimalist design. Japan is an established leader when it comes to minimalism, taking the aesthetic of its traditional Zen Buddhism which focuses on keeping life simple, clean, and uncluttered by living with just the essentials.

According to an article published by the New York Times, research has shown a direct impact our busy homes can have on our overall health and happiness: “Clutter can negatively impact mental well-being, particularly among women. Clutter can also induce a physiological response, including increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone,” writes journalist Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi. So, it’s no surprise that this pared-back way of living has become so prevalent in the home today, especially for those short on space.

Japanese minimalism is functional, simple, yet refined and tasteful. If you are keen to unclutter your home and create a sense of calm, here are some good places to start from the experts in small space living:

Stay grounded
Create a feeling of space with low furniture – Japanese minimalism is about being grounded and connected to the earth, letting natural light flow, and embracing negative space that would otherwise be filled with bulky and ornate items.

With this in mind, bring zen into the bedroom with low-level pieces such as the . The has been inspired by a floating platform and combines clean lines with a robust frame to create a feeling of space and peace. It comes with an option of four under-bed drawers, perfect for storing away your summer wardrobe and keeping your room clutter-free. Complement with the Mirage bedside table, which is compact yet big enough to hold your essentials.

Natural materials
One important concept in the Japanese aesthetic is Wabi Sabi, finding beauty in the simple, imperfect and impermanent. Furniture made from natural materials embodies this notion perfectly. Take the , crafted from bamboo with its wonderfully rustic markings. Sturdy yet lightweight, the comprises four generous shelves and a hanging rail. Its slatted design keeps the room light and airy, as does the tall, narrow version.

Marie Kondo your home
Another key principle of Japanese minimalism is Danshari, a word consisting of three “kanji”, meaning ‘refusal, disposal and separation’ – getting rid of the non-essential and allowing for a clean and clutter-free environment. The idea is that by removing what you don’t need, you can appreciate what you do have.

Danshari forms the basis of the famous KonMari method introduced by Japanese author and tidying expert, Marie Kondo. It encourages tidying by category – not by location – beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, “komono” (miscellaneous items), and, finally, sentimental items. Keep things that speak to the heart, and discard those that have stopped bringing joy.

Make it a habit to regularly rummage through your belongings and recycle items that are no longer needed. Furniture with function is the way to go – compact, extending pieces are a great example of this. For instance, the is neat and unobtrusive; it can be used as a coffee or side table and when friends or family come over, it’ll stretch out to accommodate hosting.

Embrace Japanese culture
Get close to the elements and incorporate a key aspect of Japanese culture with an authentically natural, dual-purpose . This ingenious creation is designed to offer a sleeping surface on the floor or under a mattress. Many people also buy a tatami mat to use as warm comfortable flooring, which provides a beautiful textural element to the home.

Popular for its calming scent, natural texture and tactile feel, each tatami mat is kiln-dried and made from heavily compressed rice straw with an authentic igusa rush straw cover in relaxing green which, over time, matures into a golden yellow – combining grounding and natural elements in one piece.

If you’re planning an overhaul for the new season, consider these points and enjoy a new way of uncluttered living. Check out our website for more space-generating ideas for your minimalist home.