The ultimate guide to Japandi style

An homage to east meets west interiors, discover our inspirational Japandi interior design ideas for the home, from the origins to the main elements.

With its surge of popularity in the last few years, Japandi style has become a go-to interior design choice for people who appreciate tranquil, minimalist décor with purpose. An east-meets-west trend that brings together simplicity, functional design and natural materials, Japandi is an interior style that’s here to stay.

From the colour palette, natural elements, and lighting to accessories, Japandi interior design will add a soothing touch to all parts of the home. Whether it’s your living room or dining room, Japandi style not only places importance on aesthetics but also what makes you feel good in the comfort of your home.

Discover more about the history of Japandi, ties to Scandi and Wabi Sabi design and how to incorporate these elements into your own home. After you're done reading our styling tips, browse our range of modern sofas to start decorating your Japandi home.

What Is Japandi?

A hybrid trend that combines Scandinavian modern-rustic vibes with Japanese design, Japandi focuses on simplicity, comfort and natural elements. This aesthetic can be traced back to the 1850s when Danish designers started travelling to Japan and discovered their mutual love for minimalism and practicality.

With Japandi having roots in Wabi Sabi design from Japan and hygge from Denmark, it’s no surprise that it favours a neutral palette, high-quality materials and sustainability. It’s an interior design trend that places importance in its connection with nature and how to bring the outdoors inside.

What Is The Difference Between Japandi And Scandi?

Even though Scandinavian design and Japandi have a lot of similarities, they have a few key differences that set them apart.

The first is the colour palette. “Scandi interiors tend to have a lighter colour palette focused on whites, greys and beiges to give the room a lighter and brighter feel,” says Stacey Sheppard from The Design Sheppard. “Japandi interiors on the other hand tend to have a darker more dramatic vibe. There is a more earthy colour palette with shades of black, browns, and greens being more prominent.”

“Japandi design tends to focus more on the value of craftsmanship and tradition and incorporates elements that emphasise the Japanese culture and history. It focuses more on warmth and texture to create that cosy, calm, zen vibe that you see.”

Stacey Sheppard

(Credit: Stacey Sheppard)

Stacey Sheppard

Freelance Writer and Professional Blogger

Stacey Sheppard is a freelance writer, journalist and multi-award-winning interior design blogger. She started her blog, The Design Sheppard, in 2009 and it is ranked as one of the top interior design blogs in the UK. She has written for various print and online publications including, Warehouse Home, Devon Home, and Designer Kitchen & Bathroom magazine amongst others. She has appeared on panels and presented at industry events, judged industry awards and featured on national TV as an interiors expert.

What Is The Difference Between Japandi And Wabi Sabi?

As we mentioned earlier, Japandi takes a lot of inspiration from Wabi Sabi, a Japanese lifestyle philosophy that accepts transience and finds beauty in imperfection. “Wabi Sabi is about celebrating the unique, the aged and the weathered. It is not about being pristine, flawless and immaculate,” Stacey says. “Instead, Wabi Sabi champions the hand-made, the obscure, the rough and the asymmetric.”

She goes on to explain, “Due to its Scandinavian influence, Japandi has a more polished and refined feel to it, whereas Wabi Sabi feels more lived in. There is a definite sense of experience, memory and story embedded into a Wabi-Sabi interior.”

The Key Elements Of Japandi Design

The main elements of Japandi interior design are:

  • Clean, minimalist style
  • Incorporating natural materials
  • Emphasising quality craftsmanship
  • A colour palette of earthy hues

By channelling these characteristics, you will be able to achieve that feeling of zen that’s essential to Japandi interiors.

1. Choose A Neutral Colour Scheme

Japandi living room with cosy fabric sofa and wooden coffee table
Furniture And Choice neutral and cream sofas

Japandi focuses on simplicity, comfort and natural elements. The easiest way to bring Japandi into your home is by opting for a neutral colour palette. Think cream, taupe, beige, oatmeal, ivory and light brown. You can also go darker with browns, stone shades and greys to break up the light base.

For example, paint the walls for instant impact or go for textured wallpaper to add depth. This aesthetic also applies when choosing a sofa, as it will serve as a calming anchor. Go for white, cream or beige to make it easy to accessorise. You can also add subtle hints of colour to this neutral palette. Add hints of pale pink, light green or darker accents like black for a stylish contrast.

2. Emphasise Natural Materials

Japandi home with wooden accents and accessories
Furniture And Choice

Feeling connected to our surroundings is an important part of Japandi interiors and natural textures and materials are an easy way to ground us. Bring in wooden accents through flooring, furniture or accessories. Different types of wood like rattan, bamboo, oak or mahogany will add depth to the space. Besides wood, introduce other natural textures to your space such as cotton, linen or wool when the temperature drops.

3. Create A Clutter-Free Space

Japandi living room that has been decluttered and minimalist in style
Manhattan 2 Seater Sofa

Less is more with Japandi so it’s best to declutter your home for a clean slate. This is what makes Japandi interiors look so chic without having to splurge! Embrace minimalist living by only having items that bring you joy while still serving a purpose. If you’re unsure what you want to keep it’s best to be intentional. Make a list of things you feel are essential in your space and what you’re undecided. If the cons outweigh the pros then it’s time to say goodbye to your items.

4. Maximise Natural Lighting

Japandi living room with lots of natural lighting
Furniture And Choice fabric sofas

Do you love seeing the sunlight stream into your space during the day? Creating a calming and airy space is essential in nailing the Japandi look. Make the most of natural lighting by keeping the area around your windows understated or with sheer curtains so the light gets in.

Cleverly placed mirrors will make the space feel bigger and lighter for homes that don't get much natural lighting. If you need more than that, investing in sun lamps might be the trick for the extra vitamin D.

5. Bring In Organic Shapes And Soft Furnishings

Japandi living room with organic shapes
Furniture And Choice

When choosing furniture or accessories for a Japandi home, it’s important to consider the types of shapes and silhouettes. Choose accessories with curves, soft edges and asymmetrical shapes as a contrast to break up the clean lines.

Meanwhile, decorating with a neutral palette can make your space feel flat or one-dimensional. Bring in soft furnishings like cushions, throws or rugs to create a layered look. Even though they’re all soft textures, mix them up for variety - layer a cotton sofa with a wool throw or choose a shiny fabric for the cushions that you’ll place on your sofa.

6. Introduce Lots Of Indoor Plants

Japandi living room with indoor plants
Furniture And Choice

With Japandi’s links to the outdoors, it’s only natural to bring in touches of green throughout your home. Potted plants or leafy bouquets are a quick way to achieve this. You can introduce them as accessories on your shelves or coffee table. In your dining room, for instance, use leaves as part of an elegant Japandi table setting alongside linen, wooden tableware and clay plates.

7. Install Wooden Wall Panelling

Japandi living room with wooden wall panelling
Loren 3 Seater Sofa

As you already know, wood plays a big role in bringing the Japandi trend to life. Transform your living room with wooden wall panels. The great thing is that you don’t have to add panels to the full wall - half is fine! The type of wood you choose for the panelling will set the mood of your space. Dark wood will add a hint of drama to your living room while oak or other lighter woods keep it understated.

8. Prioritise Ceramics When Accessorising

Japandi living room with Japanese-inspired ceramics
Furniture And Choice grey fabric sofas

While Japandi styling leans towards minimalism that doesn’t mean you can’t accessorise. Like decluttering, you have to accessorise with intention. Choose what you like to display - for example, vases made from clay, stone and earthenware give a natural yet minimal feel.

Since it is Japandi, opt for Japanese-inspired pieces, whether it’s vases, a tea set or bowls. Besides that, prioritise handmade or vintage pieces that are handmade or eco-friendly - and budget-friendly too! This is where the Wabi Sabi elements come in and will make your space look more unique and inviting.

If you’re interested in styling a Japandi-inspired shelf, read our guide to find out more.

9. Set The Vibe With Lighting

Japandi living room with paper lantern lights
Loren Armchair

Besides natural lighting, room lighting is essential in creating the mood. Just like furniture pieces, the lighting you choose for a Japandi-style room should be understated yet practical. Round paper lantern lights will give your room a soft glow, while pendant lighting is good for highlighting specific areas of your home such as your kitchen-diner or reading corner.

Another good option would be rattan or jute lampshades as it combines Japandi’s love of natural materials and a neutral palette. Choose this for an open plan living room as this will make the space feel warm and inviting.

We hope you enjoyed reading our Japandi interior design ideas. Looking for more living room décor tips? Check out our Scandinavian living rooms ideas guide for more inspiration.

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