Monthly Archives: March 2014

How Can You Bring Japanese Interior Design Into Your Home? Three Tips

japanese divider screensThis week, the¬†Telegraph¬†released a list of the top fine dining restaurants in Tokyo — some of which are the best restaurants in the entire world. In reviewing Yoshihashi, a place that’s as stunning as it is hard to find, they note that the restaurant makes use of eye-catching flower arrangements, tatami mats, and shoji screens, which have been a staple of Japanese design for many years.

You don’t need to be an award-winning Japanese restaurant in order to incorporate Japanese design style into your home or business. Japanese interior design emphasizes simplicity, space and harmony. Are you interested in blending this style with your own home design? Here are three tips for doing so.

1. Using Japanese Divider Screens to Break Up Harsh Light

  • Japanese shoji screens are wooden frames with translucent paper stretched over them. They are used as sliding doors, walls, or folding room dividers.
  • Modern window shoji screens are no longer made of paper alone, but are either placed behind glass or created with more durable materials so that they can be long-lasting.
  • Shoji Japanese divider screens are a great way to segment sections of a room. The advantage of these screens is that light passes through them, but is broken up and made softer. It’s a good way to ensure privacy without casting parts of your home into darkness.
  • Hanging shoji screens can be a great way to bring a unique, minimalist look into your home.

2. Concentrate on Natural Tones, Simple Shapes

  • Japanese ceremonial tea bowls, dating back centuries, are prized for the appearance they gain during usage. The unique brown colorings derived from the original kiln burning, and subsequent tea usage, are considered a part of their beauty. This emphasis on the natural and simple shape continues through Japanese design.
  • In other words, for a room that says “Japanese design,” you’ll want to stay away from heavily ornamented pieces, like imitation French furniture. Instead, look for simple square shapes, and pieces in shades of brown, black and white.
  • Clutter is anything but simple, so look to eliminate bric-a-brac from eyesight if you want your home to have a more Japanese aesthetic.

3. Accessories That Will Bring Japanese Style to Any Room

  • Tatami mats, made from rice straw, are used throughout Japan. You can either use them as a small sectional, or cover your entire floor. The dark border on the end of the mat pieces can help draw the eye across your room space.
  • The Japanese dining table is a unique piece and can be used either as its intended purpose — a dining table — or as a coffee table. This table sits low to the floor, and the chairs lack legs. Eating at the table typically involves sitting cross-legged or in a kneeling style.
  • A Japanese tea set is a relatively inexpensive investment that you can get a lot of use out of. These sets can be ceramic, porcelain, or cast iron. Teapots are usually round and ornamented, while cups are simple, lacking the handles popular in European designs.

Will you be using Japanese divider screens in your home? Let us know in the comments.

A Few Design Tips for Using Shoji Screens Around Your Home

Japanese folding screensJapanese folding screens, known as shoji screens, have been around for several centuries. Over the past few decades, there has been an increasing call for them in Western interior design thanks to their unique properties.

Shoji screens are typically constructed of paper stretched over wooden frames. They are used as doors, room dividers, and walls. Because they are made of paper, light is diffused through Japanese shoji screens, giving a way to tone down bright or harsh lighting in a room without eliminating it altogether.

Are you thinking about using these screens in your home? Here are some things to keep in mind.

Paper and Wood Are Traditional, but Not Your Only Option

Although cypress, bamboo and cedar are popular frame woods, and translucent paper is the traditional screen, many modern takes on the shoji depart from this in order to create more durable options. Polycarbonate, for example, is popular for replacing paper in creating outdoor walls. Many people also place screens inside of windows or sliding doors — they are no longer used as the exterior surface of a building by themselves. Plastic is also a popular replacement for paper, and metals can be used in place of wood.

How to Make Shoji Screens

If you’re in a DIY mood, it is definitely possible to purchase the materials to make shoji screens for your home. You can go the traditional route, creating a grid screen with wood, and gluing down the translucent paper to the back. Hinges can be used at the sides in order to create a three-panel, transportable room divider. Many people also choose to re-design existing pieces — closet doors are often re-made in this style. You can either follow a tutorial to replace your closet doors, or you can make pseudo-shoji. 1980’s style mirrored closet doors went out of style a long time ago, but you can update them with glass frosting and by creating the frame with wood veneer sheets.

Consider it to be Like Artwork

Shoji screens are a unique design element in their own right. Don’t clutter the impact they can have by draping things over the panels, or by hiding it behind various bric-a-brac. It’s not a place to hang artwork, either.

Are you interested in using Japanese folding screens in your home? Let us know in the comments.

Three Things Not to Do with Your Shoji Screen

Japanese shoji screensJapanese design influences are popular right now in interior design for a few varied reasons. Asian Americans in general are becoming more involved and present in the American creative scene — in fact, according to Richard Florida, an editor at the Atlantic, “Asian-Americans are by far the most heavily represented in the creative class work.”

Also relevant are current trends in American interior design, which emphasize balance, harmony and shape. Although shoji screens are popular right now, like any design element, they belong in certain environments, and not others. Here are three design mistakes you could make while figuring out where to place your shoji screens.

1. Using Shoji Room Dividers in a Cluttered Room

It’s okay to have rooms in your home that are more full of knick-knacks than others. However, this might not be the right place for your Japanese shoji screens. The impact of the clean-lined design is most present in rooms that can echo the simplicity and shape present in the room divider. A cluttered room will invariably distract from the design, and make the screen seem like a part of the chaos, rather than a fitting design choice.

2. Placing Decorated Japanese Folding Screens Next to Artwork

Many shoji screens have delicate watercolor-and-ink style artwork painted or printed onto them. These designs should be regarded as artwork in their own right, and they can suffice for most of the visual weight in a corner or against a wall of a room. Crowding the same area with framed pictures and paintings will draw away from the shoji screens and make the area look too busy, rather than clean and calming.

3. Placing Items on Your Shoji

It can be tempting to use your shoji for multiple purposes, especially when folding screens have been featured in so many movies as a changing area, inviting you to throw your worn clothing over the top as you slip into something else. However, using your shoji to hang things, or sticking things into the screen, will take away, again, from the cleanliness and simplicity of the design. Let the shoji work as a stand-alone element in your room, without accoutrements.

Do you have tips for incorporating Japanese shoji screens into your home design?