If you’re finding yourself particularly inspired by the Land of the Rising Sun, consider decorating your living room in the Japanese style. There’s no better place to recreate this beautiful, zen style than the living room. Take a look at these photos to help you get inspired. You can recreate these amazon interiors by focusing on natural textures and fabrics, big outdoor views, and minimalist decor, and use these tips to find your zen.
20 Ideas for a Japanese-Inspired Living Room
- All About Minimalism
- Incorporate Asian Houseplants
- Warm/Natural Overhead Lighting
- Decorate with Natural Colors and Textures
- Frame Your Outdoor View
- Take Inspiration from Traditional Tea Ceremonies
- Include a Statement Art Piece
- Embrace Natural Light
- Feature Sliding Paper Doors
- Decorate with Eclectic Japanese Art
- Keep Your Room Functional
- Showcase Your Decor in Streamlined Displays
- Keep Your Color Palette Warm
- Neutrals Are Your Best Friend
- Use Paper Lanterns as Decor
- Use Red as an accent
- Include Japanese Screens
- Contrast Round and Straight Shapes
- Try Hanging Pendant Lamps
- Keep Your Furniture Low
1. All About Minimalism
The biggest and most important element of a Japanese interior is a clean and minimal design. Japanese interiors work by keeping clutter out and embracing the less is more mentality. Before fully adopting a Japanese design style, try de-cluttering and working to find storage solutions for anything you don’t want front and center.
2. Incorporate Asian Houseplants
One of the quickest ways to transform your room and give it a brand new atmosphere is to include houseplants from the location that inspires you. Japanese decor is minimal, but it relies heavily on the natural world by incorporating outdoor views, natural textures, and plants. Choose houseplants like jade, spider plants, bonsai trees, and more, and be intentional about where you place them.
3. Warm/Natural Overhead Lighting
Japanese decor and cool, cold lighting do not mix well. This design style is all about warm tones, natural lighting, and creating a welcoming and inviting space. Choose lighting that gives off a warm glow and steer away from cool-toned or daytime LED lights. I love this example because while the decor and paint scheme is grey, the soft lighting brightens up and warms the space.
4. Decorate with Natural Colors and Textures
When choosing the decor for your Japanese-inspired space, look for lacquered wood, baskets made of reeds and grasses, paper fans, or ceramics and porcelain. You don’t have to look for Japanese-themed items per se, since that can come off as too much of a stage set; it’s more about the atmosphere you create with your colors and textures. Your room should feel at one with the natural world.
5. Frame Your Outdoor View
Traditional Japanese architecture is all about big, open spaces that allow for beautiful outdoor views. If you’ve got a large window or balcony door in your living room, or if you’re lucky enough to have beautiful natural surroundings around your house, take advantage of the view by leaving out the curtains altogether. Not only will this allow natural light to pour in, but you’ll bring the outdoors into your space as a feature.
6. Take Inspiration from Traditional Tea Ceremonies
When choosing your decor for a Japanese-inspired space, it’s important to be intentional with each piece you choose. So why not take inspiration from the traditional Japanese tea ceremony? To create an inviting atmosphere while instantly upping the Japanese inspiration in your decor, place a tea set on your coffee table or in another prominent place. You can use it for entertaining, but in the meantime, it serves as a beautiful and functional piece of Japanese art.
7. Include a Statement Art Piece
I adore the screening tapestry in this example that blends seamlessly into the decor scheme while also serving as a central feature. Even just including one main piece of Japanese art can really pull together your scheme and give your room focus. Choose a silkscreen, tapestry, scroll, kimono, or any other beautiful piece of art that you love and keep it in a central focal point of your living room.
8. Embrace Natural Light
One of the best ways to keep your furniture and decor light is by using whites, off-whites, tans, and beiges to soak in that natural light and create a bright and airy space. You don’t want too many dark features in your room as this can cause the room to look heavy, cluttered, or smaller than it actually is.
9. Feature Sliding Paper Doors
One of the trademarks of traditional Japanese design is the sliding paper doors, called fusuma, that separate rooms and even serve as windows. If you want to instantly add a sense of Japan to your living room, incorporate these sliding doors by placing them in front of your window or door. It’s a great way to add a sense of style without too much effort.
10. Decorate with Eclectic Japanese Art
Just because most Japanese styles are on the minimal side, you don’t have to settle for bland walls or lack of personality. I love this photo of a colorful and unique Japanese apartment that makes use of the space available but adds fun and quirky details to keep the space fun and refreshing. Wall art is a great way to do this without cluttering up space, and you can replicate this with a collage wall of your own.
11. Keep Your Room Functional
Many homes in Japan are short on extra space, especially in large cities. To combat this, the Japanese have engineered and designed excellent methods to keep their homes both beautiful and heavy on storage space. If you’re also working with a small space, take a hint from this apartment. The desk chair doubles as a second living room chair and there’s no extra furniture or clutter in the way to impede the flow of the room.
12. Showcase Your Decor in Streamlined Displays
If you’ve got a collection of decor like in this example that adds to your Japanese theme, show them off against the wall in coordinated and simple displays. I love this wall of teapots because the shelves are backlit with LEDs. Whether you collect figurines, fans, or teapots, this shelving design is a great way to add a pop of color to your space without having the effect feel cluttered.
13. Keep Your Color Palette Warm
Just like lighting, your color scheme should also be on the warmer side, even your neutrals. Japanese rooms typically make use of a lot of wood accents, so if your room has wood flooring, beams, or trim, take advantage of that and have them stained in a rich, warm tone. Then, think about your decor and choose warm accents in natural fibers and textures. I also love the red and yellow accents because they brighten the space and add interest and space doesn’t come off too bland.
14. Neutrals Are Your Best Friend
Japanese decor schemes are perfect if you’re looking to create a calming space to relax. Part of what makes Japanese decor so calming is the absence of lots of colors. Most schemes in this design style rely heavily on neutrals, from dark to almost white, and all in warm brown tones. Try not to rely too heavily on black or stark white, and pick only one or two accent colors to tie the whole scheme together.
15. Use Paper Lanterns as Decor
You don’t have to stick to the classics when decorating your space, and it’s always a good idea to look around at your space and how you can make the most of it in unique ways. This fun take on a Japanese room uses paper lanterns all across the ceiling and the effect is fun, upbeat, and quirky without being too over-the-top. Using white lanterns helps them to blend into the wall and ceiling so they’re not the focal point of the room, just a fun detail.
16. Use Red as an Accent
If you’re looking to add a pop of color to your living room and you want it to work with your Japanese theme, you really can’t go wrong with red. It’s a bright, bold color that injects a shot of energy into any space, but it certainly looks great paired with dark lacquered wood and paper lanterns. Choose a red that’s on the warmer side and one that you can live with (you don’t have to do the whole room, an accent wall is also great).
17. Include Japanese Screens
Check out this example of an antique Japanese screen that would make an amazing addition to any living room. Its dark frame contrasted with the metallic paper and stunning design can help separate your room with style.
18. Contrast Round and Straight Shapes
Japanese style is all about the contrast between nature and the man-made world. In this example, the furniture is beautifully curved and contrasts with the sharp lines of the doors, mats, and windows. The overall effect is clean and simple while still feeling soft.
19. Try Hanging Pendant Lanterns
When you’re lighting your living room, try to go for something dramatic that calls attention to the center of the room. This example shows off a great way to add dramatic pendant lighting and make use of the high ceilings. The lighting fixture also echoes the shape of paper lanterns, adding a modern twist to a traditional Japanese design element.
20. Keep Your Furniture Low
Traditionally, Japanese rooms would feature mats and cushions for seating but would not feature chairs. Today this is not the case, and many prefer to keep our sofa just where it is. But if you’re looking for a more authentic experience, or you simply want to save money in style, consider a mat like this one with a mattress that folds out, perfect for guests.