Picture this: Marie Kondo’s Japanese philosophy, plus the mindful and minimalist beauty of Scandinavian design.
Although I don’t have a particularly Japandi style in my home, I still feel like the Japandi style of interior design can be applied anywhere– whether through the physical décor and style or through the organization and approach to a home.
But to create a Japandi office style that works– which, by the way, is a fusion of Japanese and Scandinavian design styles– your approach to your office design has to be both organizational and systematic through both its look and feel.
If you’re still trying to figure out what style resonates with you, just know that a true Japandi style creates room to breathe, the space thinks clearly, and the colors and feel are grounded and calm, surrounded by natural pieces and influences.
If this sounds like something you need in life, then keep reading: these two design styles merged together are what Japandi is all about, and it sounds like it’s exactly what you’re looking for. ?
The 3 Key Elements to Create a Japandi WFH Office Design
Before we hop into the Japandi essentials, let’s actually break down those main elements of both Scandinavian and Japanese design styles that ultimately makes Japandi, well, Japandi!
A focus on natural materials like wood and bamboo.
Compared to something like industrial, where an interior might look manufactured and created, the Japandi style has you consider furniture that’s intentional, sustainable, and sleek.
Think light wooden furniture made with handmade craftsmanship, rattan storage baskets, jute, cotton rugs and accessories, a wooden desk, and wicker lampshades– all made from sustainable materials.
Of course, bringing in wood and natural elements also requires a gentle balance of soft, light textiles so the space doesn’t feel too bland or cold; however, as a general structure, light and natural materials are the heart of Japandi design and make the space feel light and airy.
Neutral and/or earthy color palettes.
Think about those earthy tones and hues that create a serene and calming aura around you: mint greens, soft whites, beiges, taupes, pastels, and muted colors. You’ll want to use these colors as the foreground for your Japandi-style office for that sort of “zen garden” feeling.
Knowing this, you’ll eventually be using the 60/30/10 rule of design, letting 60% of one color rule over the room, 30% of the next, and 10% of the next. If you don’t know which of them you want to lead with, find a paint color for your wall, and that will likely be your 60%!
Minimalism and KonMari functionality.
Whilst minimalism encourages the “less is more” approach, I don’t necessarily think that’s the only way to keep items organized. In fact, I believe following the Marie Kondo approach is a better way to see the items in your space focusing on everything that sparks joy. ✨
A key element in Japandi interiors (and KonMari in general) is to minimize the noise that objects can bring, like labels, bright colors, and writing. When it comes to your office interior design style and working from home in particular, this is about finding a place for papers, frequently used products, and brand labels and boxes, so you’re not letting phrases like “50% off!” or “Scotch Tape” fill your mind every time you see it.
Trust me, it’s more powerful than you think; after all, do you see labels sticking out of bins or sitting out when you see those gorgeous Japandi-style pins on Pinterest? (Probably not!)
Your go-to Japandi home office checklist (for any budget!)
1. An organized + sustainable desk.
Messy desks can mess with your whole working vibe— your focus, your ease, your groundedness. If you’ve ever cleaned or reorganized your home, you’ve probably experienced the feeling of being so much more open to the spaces that you forgot were even there, ultimately making your home feel way more spacious.
You can look at different corners of your space, different furniture pieces, and remember that they’re there, instead of your mind sort of glossing over it like we’ll do when things are cluttered.
The same thing goes with having a clean and pristine desk. Even if you feel immune to having a desk cluttered with papers, I promise you, it’s unequivocally relieving and invigorating after truly organizing and cleaning your office desk; afterward, it feels like its arms are practically wide open and hugging you, and helps you value the use of all the space you have available to you.
Re-read the “books and papers” part of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo to get a full view of how your desk should feel.
2. An ergonomic + styled chair.
A desk is (practically) nothing without the pairing of a functional, comfy, adaptable chair. I’m trying more and more to get myself standing during those hours of moving so my body can move, stretch, and do everything it needs to do to get those creative juices flowing— but when I do need to sit, I know what it’s like to have creaky, flimsy, hard chairs for my ? to have to experience.
If we’re truly designing with Japandi in mind, we have to find the balance between a beautifully designed chair and something that’s high-quality: made for comfort and productivity. As much as those Pinterest pictures look beautiful with a regular old wooden seat by the desk, chances are it won’t give you the comfort you’re looking for.
Don’t just look at a chair for the bottom cushion, but for how it functions around a desk, like if its arms are adjustable, how high and low it can go (for those who are using an adjustable desk), and even its swivel capabilities if you tend to move around when you’re working.
3. Flowing curtains + bamboo shades.
I don’t know about you, but window treatments are one of the first things I see when I step into a home, and ultimately, they’ll either date the home or make it look incredibly fresh and clean.
Of course, everyone’s taste is their taste, and I fully believe that a home that sparks joy and that you love is a home worth living in for you. If you get some inspiration from my style or recommendations, then I’ve done my job. ? However, for a Japandi design in particular, I think the most on-style pairing is light, flowy curtains with bamboo shades. It’s not too many fabrics, still allowing the light to gracefully come through with a little wisp through the curtains, but offers privacy through the natural textures of the bamboo shades.
Hang your curtain rods an inch or so below the ceiling. Yup, that’s right— even if your windows area lot lower than that. I promise, your windows are going to look 10x larger by doing this little trick!
4. A sustainable, organic, neutral rug.
Having a beautiful rug can make or break a room. Think about it— it’s probably the largest piece you’re going to have in your space. Without one, the room can feel empty and cold, and with the wrong one, well, it’ll take you completely out of your Japandi fantasy.
So, what’s the best rug to fit your Japandi home office? I say, something simple, neutral, and clean, like this:
Or, like this:
Or maybe even like this:
When it comes to Japandi rugs, think just like the rest of anything you’ll add to a Japandi room, while also focusing on what is made from natural materials. While there are some cute rugs out there, lots of them are made with toxic chemicals and dyes, and in the Japandi style (and in my suggestions in general), I want you to find pieces that are made with sustainability, health, and style in mind, focusing on their look being natural, light, and clean for them to truly align with the Japandi interior design style we’re going for.
The larger the rug is in a room, the better! Adding a smaller rug to a room will make it smaller (unless you’re working some accent rugs strategically in relation to another piece of furniture like a bed), so find the largest rug possible (without making it roll up the walls, of course) for your Japandi home office space to look and feel more vast.
5. All 3 types of lighting.
In any and every room, you’ll need 3 types of lighting for a truly curated and high-end feel:
General light is the overarching way you’ll get light in a room. Think overhead lighting like chandeliers, that gives your home office environment its base level of functionality.
Task lighting will be lights that help you with a particular task. Think a desk lamp or a reading lamp, both of which can be used to create an elegant Japandi WFH vibe.
Accent lighting will add depth, drama, and personality to a room. Think picture lights, sconces, and floor lamps, all of which help create levels and layers of light so a room has texture. Without these accent lights, rooms tend to feel flat.
Replace your traditional lights with Wiz lights so you can choose between 16 million colors. In Japandi interiors (and interiors in general), I opt for warm textures and colors so it feels less like a gymnasium and more like a cozy place I want to drink tea in and be comfortable in.
6. Earthy and neutral paint or a Japanese-inspired wallpaper.
Now, about drenching your walls in what you absolutely adore. If you’re in an apartment, there are definitely ways around this, like using nature-inspired peel-and-stick wallpaper to brighten and warm up your space without it being impossible to take off when you move out.
If you own your own place (or, honestly, even if you rent), I think painting is just so much easier. Just make sure your landlord knows about it beforehand.
Then comes the actual wallpaper options, which could include peel-and-stick, traditional wallpaper, or even murals like this gorgeous self-adhesive one from vintage murals.
You’ll want to focus on earthy hues for your walls, whether it’s a soft white, beige, or sage green, in order to capture the Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics and design approach of soft, serene, nature-inspired colors.
Remember, key to paint or wallpaper is sticking to the 60/30/10 rule mentioned above— and sticking with that 60% color. If you haven’t chosen which color will be the 60% yet, your wallpaper will speak for you!
If you’re doing this yourself, turn on some of your favorite music, watch your favorite show in the background, or Facetime with a friend. You deserve to make this a beautiful day of creating.
7. Gentle + light textiles and fabrics.
To complement your office layout with light natural woods and bamboo, you’ll want to incorporate soft and textured fabrics and textiles around the space to bring warmth and hominess to the design style.
Bring at least 1 pillow, perhaps for your work chair, or on an accent chair or couch, to communicate that it’s okay to relax in this space. You can also introduce some soft tapestries on the walls to alleviate too much shine and add warm texture to the space, giving it character and changing the “I’m here to work” energy to “my work is creative, and it can be fun and cozy, too.”
Can’t think of anywhere to add textiles or fabrics? Consider a paper lantern on the ceiling above your workspace. Not only is it simple to put up (maybe a command hook or no-hammer-needed wall anchors.)
8. KonMari storage solutions (no labels!).
While you can work to make as many beautiful pieces and moments in our Japandi home office as possible, you’re probably going to need at least a few spots that actually hold our things, be it folders, receipts, manuals, paperclips, or other basic office supplies.
The key to storing the KonMari way in order to both appease the Japanese part of this design and my personal favorite way of organizing is to make storage solutions from what you have first and upgrade them later to something that sparks joy for you.
Marie Kondo believes that you don’t have to go out and buy anything new when first starting out your tidying-up journey. Shoeboxes, gift boxes, and little square trinket organizers can be everything you need when you start out, upgrading to more upscale organizational products only when you have your current process nailed down.
The idea is, if you can keep your home organized without the fancy things, then you can definitely put those purchases to good use when you do want to invest a little more in some cuter organizational systems.
9. Japanese-inspired wall decor.
And now— the true character and personality that brings your room to life through your curated selection of wall art and home décor! For a Japandi home office style, you’re going to likely want to create a calming vs. busy atmosphere, and opt for wall decor made from natural materials and following minimalist and modern design philosophies. Think:
- Neutral colors like beige, white, and black
- Geometric shapes
- Thin and clean lines and designs
- Japanese, nature-inspired art
- Gentle watercolor
An art curator’s splurge
The beauty of Japandi is in its adaptability and focus on serenity and purpose. You can start small, maybe with just a desk and a chair, and gradually layer in additional elements as your budget allows. What’s most important is that each piece you add brings you joy and serves a functional and joyful purpose, keeping you on track for a more organized, productive, and blissful life. ? Hope you loved this Japandi home office checklist so you can be well on your way to creating an organized, clean, and stunning space to do your most creative and inspiring work.
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