5 Do’s and Don’ts to Styling The Nordic Zen Trend


The Japandi style is making a break-through in Australian interior design. And we’re loving it!

We’re totally crushing on the modern minimalist look of ‘Nordic Zen’. The trend takes the best of both Scandi and Japanese minimalism while being warm and lived-in but also sleek and sophisticated.

It’s a tricky balancing act. But when styled correctly, the ‘Nordic Zen’ style is the height of modernism for your home. Here’s how to get the look just right…

1. DON’T use bright colours

Neither Scandi nor Japanese styles are based on bright colours. Keep your base palette neutral with warm or cool greys in tonal layers and add colour in your decorative cushions and throws or artwork.

Don’t be afraid to contrast colours in different shades. It adds personality and life to a space. Go light or dark, but definitely not bright!

It’s easy for the Nordic Zen style to look boring. If you want to add colour (and we do encourage you to!) add pastels or deeper shades. Light pink or mint is perfect for a feminine touch, while dark green or navy blue can signify luxury.

Featured: The Millet Quilt Cover Set from Linen House. Shop all quilt cover sets online at Zanui.

2. DO find beauty in imperfect things

‘Wabi-Sabi’ is the perfect way to add warmth and charm to your cool, minimalist Japandi style.

Translated from Japanese, the term ‘wabi’ has come to mean ‘simple, unmaterialistic, and natural’ while ‘sabi’ is about ‘the bloom of time’. Together, the idea is to find beauty in aged or imperfect things.

Opt for handcrafted decor and handmade rugs for authentic character. Add unique textures like jute, concrete and cork for a Scandinavian touch. And style with native floral arrangements for a more organic decor element.

Featuring decor and vases from Hemingway Design for Royal Doulton. Shop all decor online at Zanui.

3. DON’T clash timber colours

Along the lines of ‘wabi-sabi’ style, Japandi is big on timber. Scandinavian trends work with lighter tones like oak and ash, while Japanese interiors work with darker wenge and mahogany.

Each piece of timber furniture is one-of-a-kind. The grains and colours are unique to the tree it was made from. And that’s what makes it so beautiful!

You’ll never get the timber tones exactly right. But whichever timber tone you prefer, keep it consistent throughout your space to create a cleaner aesthetic.

Featuring cups and plates from the iittala X Issey Miyake collection. Shop all tableware online at Zanui.

4. DO declutter your space

The key to the Nordic Zen trend is minimalism. And that means ditching the clutter! Whether you’re going Japandi in your living area, bedroom or dining room, you need to give your house a proper clean-out.

Consider your furniture and its placement in your room. Then consider your décor. Choose furnishings and homewares that you truly love and that bring you joy.

Be inspired by Marie Kondo’s ‘spark joy’ decluttering philosophy 😉 And discover more on getting motivated for cleaning and decluttering here.

Featured: Branches Round Tray, Birch Veneer and Concrete Round Tray, Black from Zakkia. Shop all tableware online at Zanui.

5. DON’T go over-the-top with pattern

Consider your patterns carefully. Simple stripes or a touch of shibori can be just the right amount of pattern to bring life to your Japandi space without heading into kitsch or retro territory!

If your space is clean and decluttered, too many contrasting lines may be distracting to the eye. So keep the shape and tone of your furniture in mind while you’re styling.

Nordic design can be quite ‘retro’ looking, with smoother curves. In contrast, Japanese style can be quite sharp with more angular style-lines. Mix-and-match but keep a simple balance between them.

Kyra Thomsen is a writer and editor from Sydney, NSW. She has experience in copywriting, blogging, journalism, and social media. After completing two degrees in Creative Writing and English Literature in 2013 she began work with the content team at Zanui. Kyra was the winner of the 2012 Questions Writing Prize and her work has been published in print and online for numerous sources, including Writer's Edit, Seizure, and Fairfax Media among others.