Improving the Interior and Exterior of Your Home

How to take home improvement inspiration from Japan

The current trend for minimalism isn't as modern as it seems. Simple, elegant designs have been a staple of Japanese design for centuries. 

The key principle of Japanese design is that everything visible should have at least one purpose. This post will look at ways to allow as much air and light as possible in by getting rid of unnecessary clutter.

After centuries of building houses with this minimalist goal in mind, Japanese architects have some great tricks which you can adapt in your own home. One essential tool to maximise storage space is the slide robe, or sliding wardrobe. This feature is based on Japan's iconic paper doors, which retract into the wall seamlessly. Sliding doors used in the home can also be used to turn two private rooms into one large entertainment space and back at the drop of a hat.

Work with a contractor from a business like Hills Robes & Screens to learn more about sliding wardrobes and how they can be incorporated into rooms.

If the slide robe doesn't prove enough to cope with your storage needs, try incorporating a kaidan dansu, or staircase chest. Rarely seen in the West, these steps incorporate sliding drawers along on one side. Japanese architects have even found ways to work shelving into load-bearing beams and walls. Remember, the principle here is that everything should have at least one purpose.

After de-cluttering, your space will already be looking bigger, whatever its original size. This effect can be enhanced by your choice of decor. Light tones such as creams and fawns, combined with wood features and floors, are the best palette to maximise your sense of space. Japanese pine blends perfectly with this scheme; alternatively, rich, dark wood such as Japanese walnut used on a statement wall can form a dramatic contrast.

Being free of clutter doesn't mean you have to get rid of all decorations, but think natural. Plants are the best accent to a room, as they add life and colour without shouting their presence. You could also get into the art of suiseki, or stone appreciation, with a rock feature. 

If plants or stones don't speak to your personality, one clever Japanese tradition is to have an alcove in your main room to display a single item of beauty or personal significance. This is swapped for a different object however often the owner wishes. You can store your mementos in your kaidan dansu, and display them one at a time. This way, you save on space and give each object special attention, one piece at a time.