Japandi interior design: Explained | CNN Underscored
Move over, modern farmhouse decor; there’s a new design aesthetic in town. Blending Japanese minimalism and Scandinavian hygge, Japandi is the latest trend gaining traction in the interior design world, bringing with it a cozy but simplistic look that’s popping up in homes all over the world…and piquing the interest of design lovers like us. Case in point: Searches for Japandi on Pinterest in 2021 were up 100% since 2020 alone.
To get to the bottom of what exactly Japandi is — and how we can channel the serene style in our own homes — we talked with interior designer Shanty Wijaya, founder of Allprace, a boutique home design, build and landscape firm that recently completed an incredible Los Angeles home flip that epitomizes Japandi style. Dubbed “Project Japandi,” the home is rife in Japanese and Scandinavian influences, from a neutral color palette and an emphasis on natural materials (think wood, stone, living finish metal and leather), indoor/outdoor living and greenery throughout.
What is Japandi?
Overseeing the entire stunning renovation, Wijaya says, “Japandi is the East meets West design movement that blends Japanese artistic elements and wabi-sabi philosophy with Scandinavian comfort and warmth. Both the Japanese and Scandinavian design aesthetics are focused on simplicity, natural elements, comfort and sustainability. Japandi is not purely an aesthetic but also a way of life. It’s about recognizing, accepting and embracing the imperfectness of life and opting for simplicity-authenticity as a conscious choice.”
While we’re more familiar with the Scandi hygge principles — creating rustic, cozy, warm spaces that foster togetherness — Wijaya brought us up to speed on Zen Buddhism’s key elements of the “wabi-sabi” aesthetic, which is rooted in appreciating the imperfection of things.
“Opt for reclaimed pieces or something that is original or handmade,” she says. “Use materials that can naturally patina in time, like wood, natural stones and living finish metals. To create depth, use different stained colored woods. Opt for simple, low-profile furnishings, and bring nature in by using potted and hanging plants and greenery inside the house.”
The result? A gorgeous mix of cozy details, natural materials and clean lines, all engrained in a minimalist, earthy color palette. With Wijaya’s help, we curated a slew of beautiful, well-made pieces — from bed linens and couches to dinnerware and lighting — that will get you on your Japandi way.
Japandi style for your bedroom
Comfort and sustainability are two key tenets of Japandi, and Parachute’s lovely linen duvet cover fits the bill. Made of 100% European flax, the light and airy cover comes in Japandi-approved hues like white, cream and light gray in sizes twin to California king, and the goods deliver — more than 1,000 customers have written glowing reviews. More to know: Parachute is an Oeko-Tex 100 certified company, meaning all of its products are free of harmful chemicals and synthetics. Parachute made our favorite linen sheets of this year too.
Jute rugs are always a good idea, and given their neutral color and natural fibers, they’re perfect for Japandi settings too. We love this one from Studio McGee’s collab with Threshold, where the rug is woven with natural wool, creating a subtle textured pattern. Did we mention it has fringe? Done and done.
Handpicked by Wijaya, this gorgeous bamboo fan can be used as a headboard or as artwork — she placed it in Project Japandi above a guest room’s headboard. Wherever it lands, it’s sure to be the focal point of the room.
Zipcode Design Alcantara 15-Inch Platform Bed
Platform beds are all the rage right now, and given their minimalist design and clean lines, they fit right into the Japandi realm. This low-profile frame comes in three finishes and has short, tapered legs — just sayin’, but it could be a match made in heaven with the above Palmera Fan Headboard!
A home can never have too many mirrors, and this modern version is perfect for your space. We love the light-colored wood stain too.
Japandi style for your living room
Serena & Lily Teak Stool
$78 at Serena & Lily
We’re calling this little guy perfectly imperfect! Handmade in India and crafted of solid teak, the decorative stool is utterly Japandi in that it’s full of natural marks and cracks. How to style it? Use it for propping up plants, holding a stack of books or as a side table.
Open-air furnishings fit right into the Japandi style, which makes this bookcase a winner for any room. Composed of metal and oak laminate fashioned to look like reclaimed wood — we know, the real thing would be better, but it would also be a lot more expensive! — the bookshelf is perfect for harnessing clutter, and it’s an Amazon favorite too.
$224 at Joss & Main
Crafted from solid mango wood, this gorgeous side table is both interesting and sleek all at once. We love its natural wood grain coloring and the fact that it has a 4.8-star rating on AllModern.
Simple and full of clean lines, this affordable shelving unit comes in four finishes and takes advantage of unused corners. More to know: It boasts over 32,000 5-star reviews.
The Japandi aesthetic calls for lots of greenery inside the home, but for those of us with a black thumb, going faux is the best route. This maintenance-free ficus tree comes in six sizes and features lifelike leaves and branches that look so natural your friends and family will think you mastered horticulture during quarantine. More to know: This ficus is Amazon’s No. 1 bestselling artificial tree, and it’s raked in more than 9,000 5-star reviews.
This ultra-cool couch from Anthropologie has a minimalist silhouette — and a low profile! — that will make it right at home in your space. Looking to outfit an entire living room? Consider pairing the sofa with this coordinating chair.
Just as important as filling your home with greenery is housing those plants in beautiful holders. Enter: This distressed terra-cotta planter that Wijaya handpicked. Perfect for hosting smaller plants like ferns or succulents, this pot will lend an earthy vibe to your home.
Lighting is all-important in any space, and this stylish floor lamp will get the job done while also adding some seriously chic style to your space.
Corral your household’s clutter with this ultra-simple leaning ladder rack from Yamazaki. Boasting clean lines and simple design, the rack’s rungs can each hold 2.2 pounds’ worth of items (from towels to scarves).
If you’re looking for a sofa that’s going to last, Floyd is a home run. One of our favorite couches in a box, the Floyd Sofa has a cultlike following, thanks to its quality and minimalist design, and we’re psyched that its look (and mission) make it perfectly Japandi too.
$368 $129.99 at Serena & Lily
There’s nothing more crucial than having a blanket to snuggle under on a freezing winter night and this one from Serena & Lily ticks all the boxes. Crafted from a chunky cotton yarn and woven by hand, the ultra-thick blanket will add the “hygge” to any space. Looking for a cheaper alternative? Check out this cozy option from Target.
If you want a show-stopping plant, there’s nothing better than a towering monstera. Plus, through Bloomscape you can select from five different pot colors to fit your style. We think the clay option meshes particularly well with other Japandi-inspired pieces.
Filling rooms with well-curated, quality furnishings is an important part of Japandi, and we can’t find a better contender than this rattan coffee table. Featuring concentric rings spiraling into the center of the tabletop, it’s the perfect place to rest your cup of tea on a cozy night in.
Speaking of rattan, we’re similarly obsessed with this editor-approved lamp that reviewers love too. With different shades of wood in a cool geometric pattern, it’s truly calming to look at.
Japandi style for your kitchen
Sustainably sourced, this gorgeous wooden drum shade will certainly be the focal point of your room, thanks to its super-cool geometric design and natural uddo-oil finish.
Hargrove Expandable Dining Table
The centerpiece to your Japandi kitchen, this expandable dining table from West Elm comes in two sizes and features a minimalist, natural design.
Sin Handmade Uni Wall Hook
Keeping a clutter-free home is key to nailing the Japandi aesthetic, which is why this minimalist hook is a big win (and a favorite of Wijaya’s!). Full of cool design details — it’s made by a small Brooklyn studio firm — the stoneware hook is just begging to hold some towels in your bathroom.
An elevated bar cart is a great way to tie everything together in your kitchen. This one from Urban Outfitters has a gorgeous yet simple design.
We’re obsessed with everything in Studio McGee’s latest collection, and that includes this marble-topped metal console table that will blend seamlessly in entryways, halls and living spaces alike. With clean lines, the piece is slender too, taking up just 15 inches, making it a great option for narrow nooks.
Threshold Ventura Bench Natural
A lovely mix of hygge (that cozy cushion!) and Japanese (that slim, natural-stained wood!), this bench is a must-have for anyone looking for some extra seating in their entryway or mudroom.
Bring the outdoors inside with this sleek plant hanger that can accommodate a 5-inch plant and comes in black, gold and gray hues. It’s a sleek way to add some real (or faux) greenery into your home.