Japandi style is a blend of Japanese and Scandinavian design ethos that blends Japanese art (think wabi-sabi and feng shui) and Scandinavian hygge (creating a cozy and warm atmosphere that encourages harmony and gratitude) for a tranquil space. While Japan and Scandinavia may seem worlds apart, their design sentiments have plenty in common. They’re both rich in history and focus on simplicity, sustainability, and neutral color schemes. The combination of the two styles results in minimalist yet functional interiors that invite you to stay in and relax. It’s no surprise that designers are leaning more into Japandi style as it leads with intentionality for what should be brought into your home. Because it’s kind to minimalists and encourages “more is more” aesthetics to relook at what they prioritize in their designs, this feel-good design style is like a breath of fresh air, and thankfully it’s not difficult to achieve.
“Fusing some of the most sought-after elements of Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics, a Japandi style brings a sense of serenity and harmony to any home,” says London design duo Black & Milk. “A Japandi style in design helps to create a spacious feel and calming ambiance, a welcome respite from the chaos of the external world.”
To learn more about the naturally warm, cozy, and balanced aesthetic, read for our expert guide to Japandi interior design style and how to apply it in your own space.
More From House Beautiful
What Is Japandi Interior Design Style
Beyond aesthetics (you’re guaranteed to see this design style all over your Instagram and Pinterest feeds), Japandi brings quality and function to the forefront. If you’re unsure what qualifies a space as Japandi, there are specific characteristics of the design style to be aware of. Japandi style homes feature an open floor plan, organic textures, clean lines, wood, multifunctional spaces, and calming color palettes.
According to Joel Wong and Amanda Gunawan of OWIU Design, these are the pillars of Japandi style:
- Neutral colors: Whites, off-whites, beiges, and taupes set a minimalist palette that allows other design details to stand out.
- Functional pieces with clean details: Dual-purpose furniture (such as a custom futon) maximizes the living space.
- Bright spaces with lots of natural light: Consider where the natural light source is in a project and how to work around it so it’s unobstructed.
- Design decisions that supports a healthy, meaningful lifestyle: Prioritize elements that mean the most to specific homeowners.
- Raw materials: The use of wood is a major theme; playing with different types and stains to add tonal interest is a signature of Japandi style.
According to Black & Milk, feng shui principles are often used in Japandi interior design: “This ancient and somewhat complicated science aims to bring positive energy into the home. One of the primary principles of feng shui is a separation between different areas of the home, which can be done with black paint.”
How to Decorate With Japandi Style
“We’re seeing the Japandi style manifest in limewash wall finishes and rich midtone woods to bring a sense of calm and ease to balance people’s everyday living,” says Danielle DeBoe Harper, senior creative style manager at Moen.
It’s all about intentionality. Go for soft textures like linen for bedding. Look for furniture that can serve more than one purpose; for example, a stool that can serve as a side table or sofas that have built-in storage. Prepare to organize your knick-knacks (it’s time to declutter!) and find the beauty in less, so each featured item in your home has a purpose. Japandi can be incorporated into homes through touches of nature, such as furniture or decor pieces made of knotty, raw wood in a warm color palette.
“To complement the more rustic, earthy nature of the style, homeowners can incorporate modern, refined artwork into spaces to holistically complete the look and add a more contemporary feel to the home. For many, they’ll experiment with Japandi by replacing their cool-hued whites with warmer whites,” Harper says.
Why Japandi Design Is Trending
There has been an increased interest in east-meets-west design, with an emphasis in the aesthetic applied in California interiors. But as more designers step away from regional design, Japandi style is being brought in for its love of nature, sleek spaces, and calm. “I think with the shift toward craftsmanship, Japandi design will continue to be a popular style. Incorporating pieces that are handmade with a bit of imperfection gives spaces gravitas and visual interest,” says Heather Hilliard of Heather Hilliard Design.
Harper believes we’ll continue to see Japandi style manifest in limewash wall finishes and rich midtone woods that bring a sense of calm and ease to everyday living. “We’ll see this design style flourish into 2024 through layers of neutrals paired with woods. The neutrals often possess a bit more warmth and pair beautifully with black accents and wood tones,” says Harper.
Consumers are using the natural beauty of wood in interiors to lead the way, including in unexpected ways like teak kitchen fixtures. Harper adds, “For years now, wood cabinets and vanities have taken a back seat to white, black, and even color, but we’ll begin to see more wood being leveraged.”
What Makes Japandi Different From Wabi-Sabi and Scandinavian
Japandi is a fusion of traditional elements and philosophies, so there are distinctions when separating it from Japanese and Scandinavian-based design. Feng shui has many rules, even pointing you in the direction to place your bed, but Japandi isn’t entirely hard-pressed to stick to the rules. Japandi style interiors also are a bit more earthy than Scandinavian ones.
Hilliard explains, “Japandi design is focused on clean lines and minimalist design, and heavily features natural materials. It incorporates elements of Scandinavian design but tends to be a more rustic, darker look.”
“While both wabi-sabi and Japandi lead to the same result—an environment that feels comfortable and harmonically balanced—wabi-sabi is about creating a perfectly imperfect home in general, not being too precious in your approach to design. Japandi is more of a design style; a collection of aesthetic choices such midtone woods and layered neutrals,” says Harper.
When it’s difficult to choose between sticking to the rules or going for a laid-back atmosphere, Japandi is the best of both worlds for all the right reasons.