What do the words “zen décor” bring to mind? For most people, it’s the image of a Japanese zen rock garden, or a minimally decorated room in soft, light colors.
Zen décor stems from Zen Buddhism and its philosophy and practice of meditation and a path towards harmony and inner peace. The idea behind zen décor and zen design is that the zen space will invoke a state of calmness. Have you ever noticed how tranquil and calming a zen space is? This is because of the way it’s designed, and all the different, well-placed elements of the room that create a harmonic space.
Because zen décor is popular, it is easy to recreate or imitate in one’s home settings.
Rules of Zen Décor
Zen décor has a handful of principles when it comes to creating a calming space that reflect the stripped-down approach of zen meditation: naturalness, stillness or tranquility, imperfection or asymmetry, and simplicity. Many of these overlap when it comes to zen décor, such as naturalness and simplicity. For example, using natural items for décor such as simple flowers, or designing windows to let in the most light can be considered zen décor. A bonsai tree is considered a classic staple of zen décor.
Color, or subtle color is another factor of zen décor that many people take into consideration. When thinking of a zen room, for example, you can usually find varying shades of white, grey, and warm, earthy tones of brown, green and gold.
Subtlety is about piquing interest or curiosity and leaving room for the imagination. With limited colors in zen décor, this leaves space for contemplation or the power of suggestion and imagining the space as something else. The subtlety of color also deals with another component of zen décor, which is austerity. It is the idea of adding only what is necessary, and in the form of color, it is a great visual practice.
Zen Décor and the Holidays
Zen décor is understood as sparse and simple, bet it can be incorporated with holiday decorating too. This might seem contradictory at first, since Christmas is seen as colorful and bright, but zen décor can be used so that your home will achieve harmony all throughout the seasons.
Here are some tips for practicing zen décor during the busy Holiday season:
We mentioned before that naturalness is one principle of zen décor, and one of the easiest ways to incorporate this for Christmas decorations is using natural elements. A real Christmas tree, for example, or stacking logs of wood next to a fireplace easily invite both Christmas elements and natural elements into your home.
Other natural elements that can be introduced would be floral or green decorations that are associated with Christmas, like poinsettias or pines. Even natural fabrics, like silk throw pillows, or wool blankets can be used to decorate for Christmas in a festive manner.
Wabi Sabi, or Imperfections
One aspect of zen décor that is becoming really popular is wabi sabi the idea of embracing imperfections. Incorporating wabi sabi into zen décor usually means relying on a few simple, handmade items to bring beauty and calm into one’s space, like plate-ware or decorative glasses or vases, or even candles.
Think of vintage Christmas items, like candle holders or ornaments, that have been passed down through families that may be lightly decorated or worn down with age. The beauty of these items is found in their age, minor flaws, and cherished meaning. These items are well loved, and wabi sabi elevates that.
We mentioned before that the main colors of zen décor tend to lean towards soft pastels or mimicking earth tones. At first, this seems like it would contrast with Christmas, which is associated with red and green and white. But by introducing softer tones of Christmas colors, and leaning into a more natural look it’s still possible to decorate for a calming zen Christmas space. For example, a modern living room that usually has shades of white and gray can be updated with pale green pillows or blankets, while the accent color of red stockings won’t detract from the overall space.
Zen décor is about sparseness and austerity. Simple Christmas decorations, limited to just a handful of lights or candles, and the one Christmas tree decorated with only a few ornaments, can still be considered zen décor. To declutter your Christmas decorations, you can start by putting out one less item per space, and see how it looks visually, and how it feels to have more room.
Overall, incorporating zen décor into Christmas decorating is a chance to pare down on material things and turn your living space into a calm, tranquil zone for the holidays.