Japandi is the mixture of two popular interior design origins: a hybrid of Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetic sensibilities. Both are rooted in simplicity, quality over quantity, and embracing nature in your home space. If you put furniture and accessories from Ikea with those of Muji, you will naturally get Japandi. Yet these styles go so well together that it is hard to tell where it begins, and one ends.

People feature Japandi bedroom and living rooms, but it has a unique application when it comes to the kitchen. In a way, current designers are already decorating in this style without even knowing it! 

Let’s look at why Japandi style is a trend, what are its characteristics, and good examples of this design worldwide.

What are the features of the Japandi style?

Japandi style
photo: Kitchen Insider

If you look at many Japandi styles, it is a natural confluence of a few recent trends existing at once. Japandi characteristics include the following:

Embracing nature for what it is: Current trends are embracing more colors and textures found in nature. Rooms display classic earthy materials like wood and stone with natural surfaces rather than painted over appearances. The use of natural materials extends handcrafted décor like rustic vases and linen curtains. “Humble materials” like jute, terra cotta, concrete, and reclaimed wood are also seen in this trend. 

Quality over quantity: Rather than an abundance of curated items, a couple of strong signature items create a more significant impression. An example is using two plants with interesting, different shapes as opposed to six plants with the same blooms. With art, a bold sculptural piece on the wall will have a stronger impact in isolation than several framed paintings. Both Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics embrace minimalism, creating clean living spaces in your home.

Playing with visual contrasts: Two-tone cabinetry and two-tone kitchens are still “in,” continuing in popularity from last year. The two tones usually contrast in dark and light, like the popular combination of a cream and navy blue. While all-black kitchens are trending, an alternative is adding light accents to emphasize darker pieces in the room. This variant distinguishes Japandi from traditional Scandinavian design; Scandinavian tends towards whites and neutrals. The uniformity of lighter and muted colors is Scandinavian, the contrasting look defines Japandi. Your monochromatic ovens and refrigerators, whether black or white, will benefit in this design.

Muted hues and neutrals: While several examples look like they are mostly white, black, brown, and grey, you can still have some color. Dusty rose and sage green are not only popular colors this year, but they work within the Japandi style. Colors are meant to be sedate and not overstimulating, so avoid saturated or vivid hues that immediately draw the eye. If you notice the tone before the design in the space, it may be too strong in the Japandi aesthetic.

Emphasis on natural light: Japandi prefers natural light when at all possible to highlight the features of the room. This usually means the interior is next to a window; the bigger the window, the better. In the evening, lighting that imitates candlelight is favored; the soft glow is comforting and warm to your spaces.

Comfort is key: This facet of Japandi comes specifically from the Scandinavian side that applies to the feel of the room. Comfort is also a prominent feature in another interior trend, hygge, described as “staying cozy and feeling at ease.” But how would you make a kitchen comfortable or warm? If you have bar stools for your island, you can add plushness to your seat or chair back. Appetizing scented candles can add to the hominess of the room when you are not cooking.

Beauty in imperfection: This detail of Japandi comes from the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, which is based on Zen philosophy. Wabi-sabi appreciates elements such as age, which gives things character, asymmetry, and modesty, including that of raw craftsmanship. What areas of a kitchen can show this? Creative backsplashes are very on-trend, and it’s an excellent place to add textured stone or nature motifs in the kitchen.

Transitional style: There have been more transitional styles in the past year because it incorporates classic and contemporary elements. Japandi looks timeless, not because it’s traditional since it’s hard to pinpoint the look to a specific period. Even though wabi-sabi is centuries old and Scandinavian design emerged in the 1930s, you cannot call this style “retro.” Retro implies a specific imitative style from a defined period, and the hybridization makes this feel fresh.

What are good examples of this Style?

Japandi style
photo: Home Journal

The interesting challenge of decorating in Japandi style is that it sits in the middle of two styles. People looking for a specific example should probably look at a few different rooms rather than a single interior.

Let’s deconstruct the elements:

-High contrast between light (the white space) and dark (the wood brown and charcoal gray)

-Minimalist décor elements such as the sculptural chandelier and the wood duck centerpieces on the dining table

-Natural textures are visible like the grain on the dark cabinet counters and even the gray stone brick wall

-Use of muted or neutrals in the room; design stands out before you notice the colors

These are the elements from the Japandi style in this interior:

-High contrast between the light and dark in the space

-The decorative elements are the plants, both artistic and embracing nature. Notice that all the plants in the room are different shapes and the plant holder is organic and humble materials

-The dark wood of the bathroom vanity has grain texture, and the style is a simple shape, not heavily ornate.

-Patterns in this room are geometric and don’t overpower the look of the entire interior

-None of the colors in this space are overwhelming. Even the green in the plants fits well into the overall design scheme.

-More use of color and yet none of the hues are vivid to dominate the eye.

-Many applications of natural textures including the wall and decorative cabinet

-Lots of comfortable materials, including the soft-looking couches and the carpet

-The decorative items are also functional like the tea set and the soft brush broom

-Large windows bring in natural light to illuminate the space

Should you convert to Japandi style?

Japandi is more than a mixture of two styles, decorating in this fashion feels like an art form. As a style that transforms the flow of the home and other rooms, it is up to the individual. A Japandi style home will prioritize function and simplicity over quantity in the home.