CNN Underscored, Apr. 8, 2021
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 are up 100% since last year 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.
Parachute Linen Duvet Cover (starting at $210; parachute.com)
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.
Threshold Designed by Studio McGee Honeyville Jute/Wool Natural Rug (starting at $129.99; target.com)
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.
Serena & Lily Teak Stool (starting at $78; serenaandlily.com)
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.
Urban Outfitters Palmera Fan Headboard ($99; urbanoutfitters.com)
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.
CaterEco Melange Stoneware 36-Piece Irregular Shape Dinnerware Set ($150.98; wayfair.com)
Stoneware dinnerware that’s also naturally misshapen? That’s a Japandi score. We love this set from Wayfair that includes 12 dinner plates, salad plates and bowls, which is a bargain at this price. More to know: If you’d prefer a light gray hue, you can nab it on Amazon for 5 bucks more.
Sin Handmade Uni Wall Hook ($42; food52.com)
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.
Nathan James Theo 5-Shelf Wood Modern Bookcase ($101.99, originally $111.92; amazon.com)
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.
Solid Wood Abstract End Table ($203, originally $230; allmodern.com)
Handmade of 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.
Greenco 5-Tier Wall-Mount Corner Shelves ($22.49; amazon.com)
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 nearly 12,000 5-star reviews.
Nearly Natural Ficus Artificial Tree (starting at $51.99; amazon.com)
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 5,800 5-star reviews.
Quinn Striped Sofa ($799; urbanoutfitters.com)
Nearly identical to the sofa that Wijaya placed in her Japandi flip house, this ultra-cool couch from Urban Outfitters 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.
Dorinda Solid Wood Low-Profile Standard Bed ($354.99, originally $599; wayfair.com)
Platform beds are all the rage right now, and given their minimalist design and clean lines, they fit right into the Japandi realm. Crafted from solid pine, this low-profile frame comes in four finishes and has short, tapered legs with a neat low spindle headboard — just sayin’, but it could be a match made in heaven with the above Palmera Fan Headboard!
Mira Modern Accent Mirror (starting at $85; allmodern.com)
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.
Bloomsbury Market Gwyneth Terra-Cotta Pot Planter ($17.99, originally $20.99; wayfair.com)
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.
Samira Task Floor Lamp ($188, originally $262; allmodern.com)
Lighting is all-important in any space, and this adjustable-arm floor lamp will get the job done while also adding some seriously chic style to your space. We love the mix of black matte metal with brass details, and the fact that its base is only 12 inches wide.
Yamazaki Home Leaning Ladder Rack (starting at $52; amazon.com)
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).
Beatty 1-Light Single Geometric Pendant ($410, originally $600.05; allmodern.com)
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.
Threshold Designed With Studio McGee Pleasant Grove Marble Top Console ($150; target.com)
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 Designed With Studio McGee Emery Wood and Upholstered Bench ($170; target.com)
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.
Floyd The Sofa ($1,195, originally $1,795; floydhome.com)
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.
Nina Rattan Coffee Table ($499; urbanoutfitters.com)
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, the piece’s geometric base is crafted from black iron that’s perfectly juxtaposed against the light, textural wood.
Ria Rattan Table Lamp ($109; urbanoutfitters.com)
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.
RiseOn Boho Black Metal Plant Hanger ($30.98; amazon.com)
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.
Brooklinen Throw Blanket (starting at $160.65, originally starting at $189; brooklinen.com)
Trust us when we say there’s no better blanket to snuggle under on a freezing winter night than this throw from Brooklinen. Crafted from pure wool and made in Germany, the ultra-thick blanket will add the “hygge” to any space. Looking for a cheaper alternative? Check out this cozy option from Target.
Casaluna Glass Jar 4-Wick Clarity Candle ($25; target.com)
Infuse your space with the glow of this gorgeous Casaluna four-wick candle, which is waaaay cheaper than most candles this size. Made from a smoke-free coconut wax, the aromatherapy is Japandi-approved, given its stark white hue and the sheer coziness all those wicks emit when lit.