You grab an Itsu and jump in a cab, firing off emails on the way to the airport, as you rejig your agenda to squeeze in a meeting with your boss.
And when you do carve out a quiet moment for 'me time', someone pipes up and needs something urgent.
Your 'me time' goes up in a puff of smoke!
Now I’m not claiming I can fix our crazy 24/7 culture.
But what I can show you, is how to counteract the stress it generates.
So when you come home at the end of a busy day, you close the door, enter a calm oasis, and feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
So how do you create this miraculous effect?
The answer lies in century old philosophies.
The principles of Japanese design.
Taking each wisdom, I’ll show you how to bring balance and harmony into your home, recalibrate your mind and alleviate stress.
Now who doesn’t want that!
The first principle, is to infuse your home with Kanso.
We all know when things are simpler, they’re less stressful.
This applies to anything in life.
But how does this translate to your home?
Clutter is visual noise. A bombardment of the senses.
It distracts your attention, your mind works hard to screen it out.
Objects on view should be carefully curated, not a random jumble of what you didn’t have time to clear away.
Now you don’t need to go Marie Kondo and thank everything for the love and joy it’s brought you.
And don’t agonise for hours over what to keep or what to donate.
Instead follow my Move to Minimal 3 Step Fix.
Three simple questions that tell you what to keep and what to let go.
You’ll cleanse your home of clutter, clear your mind, and never look back.
But why stop there?
Go all out for simplicity with these design hacks.
For useful things you need to keep, choose cleverly designed storage. You’d be amazed how much you can fit into a small space. We often create custom solutions for clients, but for ready to go, how about the b2 kitchen tool cabinet from Bulthaup.
Opened out it has everything for the expert cook, but when your done, it neatly folds away into an elegant cupboard. And because it’s free standing, you can place it anywhere and take it with you when you relocate.
Working from home, you don’t want it to invade the rest of your life. The clutter of paper, folders, and laptop scattered around. So create a dedicated flexible work zone. This allows your work to be focussed and uninterrupted, but separate from rest and relaxation. So you can switch off when you’re done.
I always instal underfloor heating in large renovations. It’s a favourite of mine. Not only is it more efficient than traditional central heating, it gets rid of all the ugly pipework and radiators. A calmer, simpler living space.
'The chaos of your surroundings reflect the chaos in your mind'
With the clutter gone, your home will immediately feel more restful.
The furniture and objects you’ve chosen to keep, now really stand out.
So you need these to embody the second Japanese design principle of Shibui.
To bring calm to a space objects need to be pared back.
Think simple forms with subtle details.
A perfectly proportioned chair, a rounded table edge, or a geometric vase.
The key to Shibui is understatement.
Cool and beautifully minimalist.
The materials and colours in your home influence your mood.
A Jeff Koons shiny neon sausage dog is great at MOMA. You don’t want it grinning at you in your living room.
Instead, look to nature for your inspiration.
Wood for your flooring and furniture.
Leather, wool, jute, silk and cotton for your rugs and upholstery.
These natural materials have a warm comforting texture, and come in tonal hues which are restful to the eye.
When considering colours, don’t include too much. A neutral palette is perfect with one accent colour for a lift. Using this restrained approach throughout your home brings continuity and harmony to your interior as one room flows into the next.
Discover more on colour palettes in How to Effortlessly Coordinate Your Home.
Close your eyes and imagine standing in a secret garden with nothing but birdsong. That’s Seijaku. That stillness and tranquility you feel.
Japanese gardens are meticulously designed to evoke Seijaku. Graceful trees arching over moss covered rocks, lining gentle streams. The effect is total relaxation.
And it’s not just gardens that have this effect. Any connection to nature, calms and reduces stress. A stroll through an alpine meadow or chilling on the beach.
You can bring Seijaku into your home by using indoor plants.
Their leafy shapes break up hard lines in the corners of rooms, and where floors meet walls. Adding softness and a focal point that’s relaxing to the eye.
They also filter pollution and improve the air quality.
Strictly speaking, Yugen doesn’t mean lighting. It refers to the suggestion and subtlety lighting creates.
Natural light is key in Japanese interiors. It’s allowed to fill a space, but is always filtered through shoji paper screens and is never harsh and direct.
The diffused light gently falls over furniture and objects, creating a suggestion of shape and texture, rather than revealing everything.
If you can’t install a window, it’s difficult to increase the natural light in your home. But you can produce the Yugen effect in the evening with clever lighting. Creating a warm ambience that’s inviting and relaxing.
To achieve this make sure every light has a dimmer switch. Without dimmers you’ve no control over light levels, and the art of subtlety is impossible.
Position lamps to create separate pools of light, rather than flat, uniform illumination. Side lamps and up lighters are your best friends for this.
And please, please, please make sure your bulbs emit warm light with yellow tones. NOT the bright white, blue toned light you get at the dentist.
The stress of modern living may be new, but the antidote lies in age old wisdom. These five principles of Japanese design.
Kanso - create simplicity by reducing clutter and using intelligent storage.
Shibui - only surround yourself with understated and beautifully minimal furniture and objects.
Shizen - look to nature for inspiration with materials like wood and wool, and a neutral colour palette.
Seijaku - bring tranquility and stillness with plants.
Yugen - light your rooms with suggestion and subtlety.
At Studio Hazeldean, these principles are the bedrock of our designs. They allows us to create interiors with balance and harmony. Homes that neutralise stress and keep the pressure of the world at bay. Leaving you to unwind, recover and feel refreshed.
Embrace Japanese design wisdom.
Feel the ultimate in calm and relaxed.