If you wanted to redesign your home interior in the Zen style, what would it look like and where would you start? You might imagine scenes of peace and tranquillity, perhaps a link with nature, for some it might conjure up images of a minimalist Japanese style. There certainly wouldn’t be any clutter or loud colours and complex patterns to distract the eye, or extra bits of furniture, or lots of ornaments and paraphernalia. Zen is anything but tangible so how can we best describe it?
What is Zen?
Even though the Zen style is becoming increasingly popular in interior design, it is possibly one of the most difficult styles to define because in a way, it isn’t really a style at all, neither is it just a religion or an art form or a philosophy even though it could be said to be all of these things. It is probably more relevant to describe Zen as a pure state of being.
Many people associate Zen with the Japanese but it actually originated in China. In the most simplistic of ways, Zen could be described as a branch of Buddhism that focuses on meditation to gain enlightenment. It is about inner awareness, experiential wisdom and true awakening of the pure, Buddha mind within oneself. However, it is almost impossible to use words to define it because words inadequately express the true nature or essence of Zen.
However, this doesn’t mean it is difficult to create the Zen style in your home, anything but. All you have to do is follow a few basic principles.
Creating the Zen style n your home
With today’s busy lifestyles, modern technology and generally fast paced living it isn’t hard to see why Zen is becoming more popular. Coming home to a calm and peaceful environment after a long day at work can be a tonic for the soul and allow you the chance to revitalise yourself, to relax and unwind, to reflect and to remind yourself of what is truly important in life.
The easiest way to bring the essence of Zen into the home would be to imagine it first as a state of mind, a focus on the here and now, on calmness, on stillness, and on just being present. Just as it is desirable to cultivate these elements in one’s mind, imagine how much easier it would be if you could also reflect these very same qualities in your home.
The first step would be to go from room to room and clear away any unnecessary objects, ornaments and knick knacks. Clear the clutter and clear the mind. Ask yourself if you really need a particular item and if you could do without it. Be brutal. What you do decide to keep should serve a purpose. If you find it hard to dispose of something that you don’t really need then find a place where it can be stored neatly away and preferably right out of sight.
Get rid of any extra pieces of furniture, Zen is about functionality and space and the more open the space the better. Don’t forget the walls, ceilings and floors too. Anything that is elaborate and fussy is just not Zen.
Think about colour. Colour schemes would be soothing and easy on the eye so no loud colour contrasts and bold statements. Go for colours that are neutral and reminiscent of nature, perhaps subtle shades of blues, greens, beige and browns. There would be no complex patterns either; lines would be simple, smooth and streamlined.
What furniture you do have would be laid out in such a way as to promote harmony and space so there should be easy access in and around the furniture in each room, no possibility of tripping up and bumping into things as you go. Everything should promote the free flow of energy in and around the home, put your rooms into a meditative state.
There aren’t any pieces of furniture or wall hangings or artefacts as such that are specifically Zen. It is how you arrange the items in your home that give it the Zen look and feel and so the fewer items you have the better.
Finishing off the look
You could try a bowl of pebbles, a simple landscape painting or a picture of a waterfall, an actual water fountain or water feature, a single flower in a vase, a pot plant, a wooden ornament, a piece of crystal, seashells, a display of candles, basically anything from nature. If you follow the ‘less is more’ principle and combine this with serenity and simple beauty then you are on your way to achieving the Zen style in your home.