The Calm Home

Stress Free Living in a Hectic World

April 2021
5 minute read
Japanese minimal white living room with white sofa and dark wood shelving
Does life feel it's on fast forward?

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!

Kanso - simple

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.

minimal solid oak shelving in a calm home
Inspired by the shoe racks at the entrance to Japanese temples is the N-SS01 solid oak shelving system from Karimoku Case Study. Even open shelving can be minimal and calm, if your objects are beautifully curated.

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.

A calm Japanese interior with walnut wood shelving and cream sofa
Create any shape and work round any obstacle with Bond, a modular shelving and storage system from Fogia. Either ceiling, wall or floor mounted, it's available in solid oak, walnut or ash.

Intelligent Storage

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.

minimal b2 kitchen workshop by Bulthaup
Part of the b2 kitchen workshop from Bulthaup, the kitchen tool cabinet looks like a regular floor standing full height cabinet.
open b2 kitchen tool cabinet with pots, pans, utensils, knives, tableware, glassware and food storage
But opened out it reveals a fully equipped kitchen. Pots, pans, utensils and knives, tableware, glassware and food storage. Every pocket of space is utilised.

Home Work Zone

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.

modern Japanese style home work zone with table and chair in smoked oak
A hybrid between Japanese and Scandinavian design, the N-DT01 table and N-DC01 chair from Karimoku Case Study work beautifully together to create a home work zone. Available in natural or smoked oak, with a wood, fabric or paper cord seat.

Underfloor Heating

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'

Shibui - minimal

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.
Unobtrusive beauty.

minimal wooden dining table in a calm white Japanese interior with wooden Douglas floor
This ultra minimal dining table is built from the same Douglas wood as the floor. Both are finished with lye and white oil giving a calm, seamless flow between the two. Design by Jen Alkema Architect, wood by Dinesen, photo Wim Hanenberg.

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.

close up of minimal rounded supports of Post table by Fredericia
A perfect combination of functionality, simplicity and serenity - the beautiful rounded supports of the Post table from Fredericia. Made from solid oak with a traditional soap finish.

Shizen - natural

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.

Natural douglas wooden floor in minimal Scandinavian interior
The Danish brand Dinesen are experts in wooden flooring. The subtle tonal variation of the woodgrain is relaxing and restful on the eye.

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.

flat hand woven Dhurrie rug in natural and black
Nanimarquina specialise in rugs made from sustainable natural fibres. Their Tres Stripes Black is a flat hand woven Dhurrie made from felt and New Zealand wool.

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.

calm white minimal living room and bedroom with brass shutters
A neutral palette connects the living and bedroom areas in the Stable House Project by Frama. The pivoting brass shutters add contrast and a focal point.

Seijaku - tranquil

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.

wooden bath tub against raw rendered wall surrounded by tranquil plants
The addition of plants to the Frama store in Copenhagen softens the raw rendered walls and minimal interior, making you feel connected to nature.

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.

fine leaved Japanese tree in modern minimal concrete interior
The fine leaves of this Japanese tree break up the hard lines of the stairs, and act as a focal point. The furniture is by Karimoku Case Study and was originally designed by Keiji Ashizawa and Norm Architects for the interior of Kinuta Terrace.

Yugen - lighting

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.

grey marble coffee table and bowl with sunlight and shadows
Sunlight reveals the silky smooth texture of the grey kenzo marble top Piloti coffee table by Fredericia.

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.

modern Italian interior with floor to ceiling windows, minimal sofa and bookshelves and floor lamp
De Padova are masters of elegant, minimal Italian furniture and lighting, and Cilindri is a perfect example. Light diffuses through a sandblasted glass cylinder to produce a pool of warm, comforting light. Also available as a pendant. Photo by Tommaso Sartori.

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.

modern minimal pendant light over a wooden desk
Floating like a UFO is the Model 2065 pendant light by Astep. Controlled by a dimmer it emits a warm glow and casts subtle shadows across a room.

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.

Passionate Minimalist
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