Crafting Tranquility: Embracing Japandi Interior Design Aesthetics with Wabi-Sabi Principles

Japandi Living Room

What is Japandi Interior Design?

Japandi design has been making waves in the interior design world. A fusion of Japanese and Scandinavian styles, it combines the minimalist elegance and tranquility of Japanese design with the warmth and functionality of Scandinavian decor. This trend started gaining popularity around 2016 and has since captivated designers and homeowners, particularly in multicultural urban centers like New York, Tokyo, and London.

As a Japanese interior designer with roots in Hawaii and a career influenced by the rise of Scandinavian mid-century styles, I’ve been practicing Japandi design even before it was officially named. The charm of Japandi lies in its ability to create spaces that are not only beautiful and functional, but also deeply connected to nature.

Key Characteristics of Japandi Interior Design

1. Harmony with Nature

Japandi design is all about embracing nature. Japanese interiors often incorporate natural materials like wood, stone, and bamboo, which are also key elements in Japandi design. It draws inspiration from the natural world, incorporating materials like wood, stone, and bamboo. These elements, combined with a neutral color palette that reflects pebbles, sand, and other natural tones, create a serene environment. Houseplants play a crucial role, adding greenery that enhances the connection to nature and breathes life into the space.

2. Minimalism with Warmth

Both Japanese and Scandinavian designs are renowned for their minimalist approach. The Japanese style is known for its minimalist principles, clean lines, and use of natural materials, which are integral to Japandi design. Japandi takes this minimalism and infuses it with warmth. Soft textures, such as wool throws and woven baskets, along with warm lighting from paper lanterns or strategically placed lamps, create a cozy atmosphere. And importantly to have a curated selection of high-quality pieces that serve a purpose and bring joy.

3. Functionality with Beauty

Functionality is at the core of Japandi design. Scandinavian design emphasizes functionality and simplicity, which are key elements in Japandi design. Every element in a Japandi space is practical yet beautiful. Clean lines in furniture maximize space, hidden storage solutions keep clutter at bay, and multi-functional pieces adapt to various needs. This focus on functionality creates a sense of order and calm, making it easier to relax and unwind.

What is Wabi-Sabi Interior Design?

Wabi-Sabi (better known than Japandi) is a Japanese aesthetic philosophy that celebrates imperfection, impermanence, and the beauty of natural materials aged by time. It’s about finding beauty in the worn and weathered, and infusing your space with a sense of peace and acceptance. Incorporating Wabi-Sabi principles into Japandi design can add depth and character to your space.

Key Characteristics of Wabi-Sabi Design

1. Appreciation of Imperfection

Wabi-Sabi shuns the idea of flawlessness. A chipped mug or a table with visible wear and tear aren’t seen as defects, but rather as reflections of time and use. These imperfections tell a story and imbue the object with a unique character.

2. Embrace of Nature

Natural materials like wood, stone, and clay are the stars of the show in Wabi-Sabi design. The focus is on organic shapes, textures, and the subtle variations that occur in nature itself. Think rough-hewn wooden beams, unfinished stone walls, and pebbles displayed as decorative accents. (I recently wrote about bringing more of Mother Nature into our homes.) 

3. Acceptance of Impermanence

Wabi-Sabi reminds us that everything is impermanent, and that beauty can be found in the fleeting moments. This philosophy encourages us to appreciate the present moment and find beauty in the natural cycle of decay and renewal.

4. Celebrate the Passage of Time

Wabi-Sabi values the beauty that comes with age. As an interior designer, I love to incorporate vintage or antique pieces that show signs of wear and history. These items tell a story and add a layer of richness to a Japandi design.

5. Focus on Simplicity

Wabi-Sabi also emphasizes simplicity and the importance of empty space. Avoid overcrowding your space with too many items. Instead, focus on a few meaningful pieces that create a sense of calm and tranquility.

Japandi Style vs. Wabi-Sabi: Key Differences

While Japandi and Wabi-Sabi share a love for natural materials and simplicity, their aesthetics and philosophies differ. Japandi combines elements of modern Japanese and Scandinavian interior design, creating a unique and harmonious style.

1. Core Philosophy

Japandi: This style blends Japanese minimalism and functionality with Scandinavian warmth and light, resulting in clean lines and cozy textures.

Wabi-Sabi: Here, the Japanese philosophy celebrates imperfection, impermanence, and the beauty of aging materials. Again, it finds beauty in the worn and weathered. (I find this element particularly valuable in a world that is often obsessed with the new, and often expressed in material and throwaway culture.)

2. Aesthetics

Japandi: Focuses on clean lines, functionality, and a minimalist approach with light, airy spaces and pops of warmth.

Wabi-Sabi: Embraces a rustic, natural look with imperfect textures, organic shapes, and a muted, earthy color palette.

3. Approach to Space and Clutter

Japandi: Strives for spaciousness by minimizing clutter and simplifying design with uncluttered surfaces and streamlined furniture.

Wabi-Sabi: Emphasizes the story each item tells, welcoming imperfect, well-loved pieces and a touch of curated clutter.

4. Furniture and Decor:

Japandi: Features minimalist pieces with clean lines, texture, and functionality, such as sleek wooden tables and woven baskets.

Wabi-Sabi: Values natural and handmade pieces with visible imperfections, showcasing the beauty of aging materials.

It’s the combination inherent in Japandi design that offers a blend of Japanese minimalism and Scandinavian warmth, creating serene, functional spaces that are deeply connected to nature. In contrast, Wabi-Sabi celebrates imperfection and the beauty of aging materials, creating rustic, natural interiors with a touch of curated clutter. Both styles promote a tranquil, nature-inspired environment, allowing you to choose the one that best suits your preference for a calm and balanced home.

Combining Formal Beauty and Human-Oriented Functionalism

Japandi interiors aim to create spaces that are both beautiful and functional. Every object in a Japandi home is more than just utilitarian; it’s a piece of art, a fragment of memory, and a reflection of lifestyle. This design philosophy encourages mindfulness and appreciation of every small moment, infusing homes with a meditative and peaceful quality. Japandi style interiors are characterized by neutral tones, a mix of textiles and textures, and a focus on craftsmanship.

1. Traces of Handicraft and Nature

Japandi design draws heavily on the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, which, as noted above,  values imperfection and the beauty of age. This is evident in the use of natural materials and traditional craftsmanship techniques like yakisugi, a method of preserving wood through charring. The textures and aged surfaces bring warmth and authenticity to the space, transforming it from a cold, clinical showroom to an inviting, relaxed home.

2. Minimalism With a Human Touch and Emotional Warmth

While Japandi values simplicity, it also incorporates the Scandinavian concept of hygge, which focuses on creating a warm, inviting atmosphere. Unlike stark minimalism, Japandi design includes elements that add a sense of coziness and human touch. The result is a space that is minimal yet filled with warmth and humanistic care.

Crafting Japandi Style in Different Spaces at Home

When incorporating Japandi style into your home, it’s essential to focus on different elements in various spaces to create a cohesive and harmonious look.

1. Crafting Tranquility: Mastering the Japandi Living Room

The living room is often considered the heart of the home, where relaxation and socialization come together. This interior style captures the essence of both Japanese minimalism and Scandinavian functionality. In a Japandi-style living room, furniture has a low profile and is unassuming. Think sofas and armchairs in shades of gray, beige, and other muted tones. Pieces made from wood are essential, including bamboo and rattan. Simple, clean lines dominate, but the mix of darker pieces adds depth. Natural materials such as woven rugs and cushions enhance the coziness, while clutter is kept to a minimum to maintain a tranquil atmosphere.

2. Feast for the Senses: Elevating Togetherness with Japandi Dining Room Design

The dining room is where family and friends gather to share meals and create lasting memories. In Japandi design, functionality is prioritized without sacrificing a subtle and sophisticated aesthetic. A minimalist dining table crafted from natural wood, paired with chairs that feature clean lines or subtle curves, creates an inviting setting. Adding potted plants and simple floral arrangements as centerpieces brings harmony and serenity to the space.

3. Culinary Zen: Crafting Harmony in the Japandi Kitchen


The kitchen is a place of function and style in Japandi design. Streamlined cabinetry in light wood or matte finishes, complemented by sleek hardware, creates a clean look. Countertops should be clutter-free, displaying only essential items. Ceramic bowls and wooden utensils can serve as decorative accents. Incorporating elements like stone or wood for countertops and backsplashes adds texture. Appliances with minimal designs and clean lines enhance the overall aesthetic, while soft under-cabinet lighting and pendant lights with warm bulbs create a cozy ambiance for cooking and gathering.

4. Japandi Bedroom

The bedroom is a sanctuary for rest and relaxation. In a Japandi-style bedroom, simplicity and functionality are key. Opt for a low-profile bed frame made from natural wood, complemented by neutral-colored bedding. Keep the decor minimal with a few carefully chosen accessories, such as a soft throw blanket, a couple of pillows, and a piece of wall art. Incorporate natural elements like a wooden nightstand, a potted plant, and soft, diffused lighting to create a calming atmosphere.

5. Japandi Bathroom

The bathroom is another space where Japandi design can shine. Choose natural materials like stone and wood for countertops and vanities. Keep the color palette neutral with shades of white, beige, and gray. Use minimalist fixtures and fittings with clean lines. Incorporate storage solutions that keep toiletries and other essentials out of sight, maintaining a clutter-free environment. Add touches of nature with bamboo or wooden accessories, and consider using a simple, elegant Japanese soaking tub for a spa-like experience.

6. Japandi Home Office

A home office designed in Japandi style should promote productivity and calmness. Opt for a sleek, minimalist desk made from natural wood, paired with a comfortable chair that offers both support and style. Keep the workspace organized with smart storage solutions that hide away clutter. Use a neutral color palette with occasional pops of green from potted plants. Ensure good lighting with a combination of natural light and strategically placed lamps. Personal touches like a simple piece of artwork or a small, decorative object can add character without overwhelming the space.

7. Japandi Entryway

Japandi Entryway

The entryway is the first impression of your home, and a Japandi design can make it both inviting and functional. Opt for a simple door, console table, or bench made from natural wood. Keep the color palette neutral with shades of white, beige, and gray, creating a calm and welcoming atmosphere. Use baskets or sleek storage solutions to keep shoes and other items organized and out of sight. Add a touch of nature with a small potted plant or a vase with fresh flowers. Minimalist hooks or a simple coat rack can provide practical storage without cluttering the space.

8. Japandi Outdoor Space

If you have an outdoor area, extend the Japandi aesthetic to your garden or patio. Use natural materials like wood and stone for furniture and landscaping elements. Choose minimalist outdoor furniture with clean lines and neutral colors. Incorporate elements of nature with potted plants, a small water feature, or a Zen garden. Soft outdoor lighting can create a serene and inviting atmosphere for relaxing or entertaining.

Practical Tips for Implementing Japandi and Wabi-Sabi Design Aesthetics

1. Choose Quality Over Quantity

In both Japandi and Wabi-Sabi design, less is more. Focus on selecting high-quality pieces that are functional, beautiful, and meaningful. Avoid clutter by choosing items that serve a purpose and contribute to the overall aesthetic. Wabi-Sabi emphasizes the beauty of imperfection, so consider items that have character and tell a story.

Embrace Natural Materials: Incorporating Natural Materials in Japandi and Wabi-Sabi Design

Wood, stone, bamboo, and natural fabrics are essential in Japandi design and resonate with Wabi-Sabi’s appreciation for nature. These materials bring warmth, texture, and authenticity to your space, creating a strong connection to the natural world. Incorporate these elements in furniture, flooring, and decor, and appreciate their organic imperfections and aging process.

3. Maintain a Neutral Color Palette

Both design aesthetics favor a neutral color palette with shades of white, beige, gray, and soft pastels. The use of various textiles and color palettes helps to create a cozy and inviting atmosphere in Japandi design. These colors create a calm and serene environment. Use darker tones as accents to add depth and contrast, enhancing the tranquil and balanced atmosphere. Wabi-Sabi’s earthy tones and natural hues can also enrich the color scheme.

4. Incorporate Greenery

Houseplants are a key element in Japandi design and align with Wabi-Sabi’s love for nature. They add a touch of greenery and bring life to the space. Choose plants that thrive indoors and require minimal maintenance, such as succulents, philodendrons, and fiddle leaf figs. The presence of plants enhances the sense of serenity and natural beauty.

5. Focus on Functionality

Every item in a Japandi space should have a purpose, echoing the Wabi-Sabi principle of valuing simplicity and utility. Opt for furniture and decor that offer both form and function. Look for pieces with clean lines and simple designs that maximize space and utility. Functional items should also bring joy and be aesthetically pleasing.

6. Appreciate Imperfections

Wabi-Sabi celebrates imperfection and the beauty of aging materials. Choose decor and furnishings that show their history and craftsmanship. Items with visible wear, handmade details, or unique textures add character and authenticity to your space, creating a sense of warmth and history.

7. Create a Sense of Balance

Balance is essential in both Japandi and Wabi-Sabi design. Ensure that your space feels harmonious by balancing light and dark tones, natural materials, and minimal decor. Avoid overcrowding your space with too many items, and focus on creating a tranquil and balanced atmosphere. The interplay of simplicity and imperfection fosters a sense of calm and mindfulness.

By incorporating these practical tips, you can create a home that embodies the serene, functional elegance of Japandi design and the soulful, imperfect beauty of Wabi-Sabi aesthetics.

The Journey to a Japandi and Wabi-Sabi Home

Creating a Japandi home is a journey that involves thoughtful selection and a deep connection to the elements you choose. It’s about crafting a space that reflects your values and lifestyle, promoting peace, mindfulness, and a connection to nature while embracing the beauty of imperfection through Wabi-Sabi principles.

1. Start with a Clean Slate

Begin by decluttering your space. Remove items that don’t serve a purpose or bring joy. (I know this is often a hard task for people…but it’s a wonderful process that offers a cleaner “slate” to work with – both physically and psychically!) This blank canvas is the start for your Japandi design. As Wabi-Sabi emphasizes simplicity and the appreciation of space, embrace the opportunity to pare down to essentials that hold true value.

2. Choose Natural and Sustainable Materials

Focus on sustainability by choosing natural and eco-friendly materials. This not only benefits the environment but also adds authenticity and warmth to your space. Incorporate wood, stone, bamboo, and natural fabrics, appreciating their organic textures and imperfections, which bring a sense of grounding and connection to nature.

3. Invest in Quality Pieces

Invest in high-quality furniture and decor that will stand the test of time. Look for pieces that are both beautiful and functional, ensuring they will be cherished for years to come. Wabi-Sabi values longevity and the story of aging materials, so choose items that will develop character over time. This is paramount to my interior design work. I truly believe these investments will pay rewards over time and allow my clients to become “collectors” with objects that have meaning and a sense of legacy. Dare I say, I believe this is an important “fit” when potential clients go about the process of how to choose an interior designer.

4. Incorporate Personal Touches

Personalize your space with items that reflect your personality and history. This could be a family heirloom, a piece of art, or a handmade object. These personal touches add character and meaning to your home, aligning with Wabi-Sabi’s appreciation for uniqueness and personal history. Again, think of creating a legacy!

5. Create a Sense of Balance

Ensure your space feels balanced and harmonious. Pay attention to the proportions and placement of furniture and decor. Balance light and dark tones, natural and man-made materials, and empty and filled spaces. Wabi-Sabi’s principle of balance extends to the harmony between simplicity and complexity, creating a tranquil and cohesive environment.

By incorporating these principles, you can transform your home into a Japandi sanctuary that embodies both the serene elegance of Japandi design and the soulful beauty of Wabi-Sabi aesthetics. This journey is not just about creating a beautiful space, but about fostering a home that promotes mindfulness, tranquility, and a deep connection to nature.

Combining Japandi and Wabi-Sabi With Other Styles

While Japandi is a blend of Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics, it can also be seamlessly integrated with Wabi-Sabi and other design styles to create a unique and personalized space. Embracing the beauty of imperfection and natural elements from Wabi-Sabi, alongside Japandi’s minimalist and functional approach, allows for a harmonious and authentic home environment that reflects individual tastes and stories.

1. Japandi and Wabi-Sabi and Modern

Combining Japandi and Wabi-Sabi with modern design can create a sleek and sophisticated look. Modern design elements such as clean lines, metal accents, and contemporary furniture can complement the natural materials and minimalist approach of Japandi and Wabi-Sabi. This fusion results in a space that feels both current and timeless.

2. Japandi and Wabi-Sabi and Bohemian

For a more eclectic and relaxed vibe, blend Japandi and Wabi-Sabi with Bohemian design. Incorporate Bohemian elements like textured fabrics, colorful rugs, and eclectic decor pieces. The key is to maintain the balance and simplicity of Japandi and Wabi-Sabi while adding a touch of boho flair. This combination can create a cozy and inviting space with a unique personality.

3. Japandi and Wabi-Sabi and Industrial

Japandi and Wabi-Sabi can also work well with industrial design elements. Exposed brick walls, metal fixtures, and raw materials can add an edgy, urban feel to the natural and minimalist Japandi aesthetic. The contrast between the rough industrial elements and the serene Japandi design can create a visually interesting and harmonious space.

Japandi and Wabi-Sabi: Serenity, Authenticity, and Mindful Living

Japandi design is a beautiful fusion of Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics, offering a perfect blend of simplicity, functionality, and warmth. By incorporating natural materials, a neutral color palette, and a minimalist approach, you can create a space that promotes peace, mindfulness, and a deep connection to nature. Whether you’re drawn to the sleek lines of modern design, the eclectic vibe of Bohemian decor, or the raw elements of industrial style, Japandi can be adapted to suit your personal taste and lifestyle. Japandi design is a fusion of traditional Japanese and Scandinavian styles, creating a sophisticated yet easygoing aesthetic.

Embrace the principles of Wabi-Sabi by celebrating imperfections, valuing the passage of time, and focusing on simplicity. This will add depth and character to your Japandi design, creating a home that is not only beautiful but also meaningful and authentic.

Creating a Japandi home is more than just a design choice; it’s a journey towards a more mindful and connected way of living. By carefully selecting each element and focusing on quality over quantity, you can transform your space into a serene and inviting sanctuary.


About Jarret Yoshida

Jarret Yoshida has worked in the New York interior design world for more than two decades. With a varied portfolio of projects including residential and commercial spaces, he draws inspiration from his Asian interior designer heritage to create stylish, welcoming, and sophisticated design solutions.

Get In Touch

We can’t wait to hear more about what you’re dreaming up for your space. Every project begins with an “Ask Me Anything” call, where you can tap into our expertise about what’s possible for your project and budget. We welcome you to book an appointment today!