Japanese Kitchen Design Elements To Bring Harmony To Your Home

Japanese kitchen design is revered for its peaceful and harmonious aesthetic. Grounded in nature and based in simplicity, this kitchen style is perfect for lovers of minimalist design. If an integrated, family-oriented kitchen space appeals to you, then consider taking these cues from Japanese kitchens for your next kitchen remodel.

Japanese Kitchen Design Elements

Influenced by the principles of zen philosophy, traditional Japanese spaces reflect the concept of wabi-sabi. The idea is that there is beauty to be found in life’s imperfections, and true contentment comes from embracing them. Wabi-sabi includes seven aesthetic principles:

  • Fukinsei (不均斉): asymmetry, irregularity;
  • Kanso (簡素): simplicity;
  • Koko (考古): basic, weathered;
  • Shizen (自然): without pretense, natural as a human behaviour;
  • Yūgen (幽玄): subtly profound grace, not obvious;
  • Datsuzoku (脱俗): unbounded by convention, free;
  • Seijaku (静寂): tranquility, silence.- Source: Wikipedia

When creating your Japanese-style kitchen, keep these principles in mind. Aim to create a simple, tranquil, and unadorned space where everything has its place.

Qi kitchen by Nendo for Scavolini


Japanese kitchen design wholly embraces the elements of nature. Kitchens are thought to be spaces that promote health and vitality, so using natural materials acts as a reminder to live in harmony with our environment.

Wood has been a mainstay in Japanese architecture due to its ability to withstand the humid climate. While contemporary kitchens use materials such as concrete and metals, wood and other natural materials should be the star of the show. Opt for cabinets, shelves, or countertops with visible wood grain to really capture that natural aesthetic.

Japanese homes tend to be small, so open layouts are preferred. Instead of walls, rooms are often separated by shoji screens. This allows natural sunlight and fresh air to move freely throughout the space. In your own kitchen design, aim for an open, well-ventilated space with ample natural light.

Another way to bring more nature into your kitchen is by adding plants. While Japanese kitchen design tends to shun excessive decor, adding a plant or two in a corner or on a shelf can add a touch of natural beauty to your space.

Open, Integrated Layout

Rather than being located in a separate room, the kitchen is traditionally open and integrated into the adjacent dining and living areas.

Integrating these spaces allows for more spaciousness and ventilation. But it also prevents the cook from being sequestered away from the rest of the family. Japanese meals often require time and attention to make, and is commonly a family affair.

In many Japanese kitchens, the dining area is directly attached to the kitchen’s cooking zone, either in a T-shape or I-shape design. In a T-shape design, the dining table is placed perpendicular to the center of the cooking zone. With I-shape designs, the dining table is essentially an extension of the worktop.

Even if you don’t use a T- or I-shaped design, think of creating an integrated, attached space where both cooking and eating can involve the entire family.

Neutral Color Palette

Because the aim is simplicity, the color palette of Japanese kitchens tend to be neutral and subdued. Earthy tones such as brown, beige, gray, and black tend to be the chosen hues. Keep it simple. Avoid using a wide color palette or bold, bright colors.

While you may be tempted to add pops of color to brighten up the space, it may take away from the humble, unadorned, nature-inspired aesthetic. Adding green plants can add the pop of color that you’re looking for without straying too far away from the theme. Shades of white or off-white works as contrasting tones to make the space more visually appealing.

Minimalist & Clutter-Free

In small Japanese kitchens, simplicity and organization are of supreme importance. These are minimalist spaces that don’t have a lot of excessive decoration. Instead of wall cabinets with doors that open outwards, many Japanese kitchens traditionally have open shelves or cabinets with sliding doors. Contemporary cabinets rely on simple flat-paneled doors when cabinets are used.

Traditionally, clutter is avoided and storage is very particular. Everything has its place. On open shelves, bowls and cups are neatly stacked. Pots and pans may hang on S-hooks along the wall. Wall-mounted magnetic strips are often used to store knives and other commonly used utensils. Sometimes, hanging shelves store rarely-used items or plants overhead.

If you’re seeking a more contemporary look without open shelving, keep your items neatly tucked away in cabinets, rather taking up space on the countertops. Neat, tidy, and clutter-free helps to create the tranquility that you desire from your Japanese kitchen design.

Less Is More

Keep things simple. Embrace neutral tones and natural materials. Open up your layout to the dining area to make meal times family times. Avoid excess decor and unnecessary clutter. When it comes to creating a tranquil, Japanese kitchen design, less will always be more.

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