Japandi Kitchen Design: Cabinets, Colors, and Other Elements

An increasing variety of kitchen designs are being showcased to clients due to the growing interest in and demand for interior simplicity. While it differs from other styles, minimalism can also refer to the dominant chosen material for furniture or the color for walls and cabinets. But one thing or element does not necessarily rule out a minimalist design. In other words, this is not the most significant thing. Simplifying the space's appearance and use while fostering a cozy and serene atmosphere is their primary goal of minimalism. 

Constant experimentation with styles to bring their uniqueness leads to the birth of new styles. Perhaps, this is how the Japandi kitchen was born.

A kitchen island with Dekton Agra countertop in the foreground with light oak kitchen cabinets behind

What is Japandi Kitchen Design?

Origin and History: Discover the Roots of Japandi Aesthetic

The term Japandi is an amalgamation of the words “Japanese” and “Scandinavian”. At first glance, it may seem that this combination is not based on anything. After all, what could be similar between Japanese and Scandinavian styles? How did they even manage to combine them?

There is a belief that the Japandi kitchen design may have started when Japan's 220 years of closed borders policy was abandoned and the nation started to open up to Western customs. Similarly, Western countries, notably those in Europe, showed an increasing amount of interest in Japanese culture. Designers were drawn to its distinctive aesthetics and started observing the interiors, which motivated them to replicate a similar look in their own houses.

So what is so common in Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics that it allowed them to merge into one? First of all, it's the desire for simplicity, hence minimalism. It is the use of natural materials and handmade accessories as jewelry. It also reflects similar philosophies and life outlooks, even though the countries are far away from each other.

Japandi Kitchen Nowadays: Evolution and Modern Interpretations

Although the history of Japandi kitchen design dates back more than a hundred years, its popularity began relatively recently, in 2019. Interior designers are currently establishing new standards in the field, and this tendency has not been overlooked. Everything is considered, from big aspects to little things, to create not only a stunning interior but the right atmosphere with the help of colors, materials, textures, and accessories.

For example, one of the current trends is the installation of kitchen countertops made of stone or similar materials. Since stone is a natural material, it fits perfectly into the Japandi style kitchen. Which stone is better to choose for the countertop, we tell you in this article.

Japandi kitchen design goes from year to year with its own traits and features, but one thing remains the same. It is a combination of two philosophies: Japanese wabi-sabi, which is based on the pursuit of simplicity and pleasure, and Scandinavian hügge, which is based on comfort, convenience, and well-being.  Whatever colors or materials are chosen for the kitchen design, understanding and accepting these worldviews is the basis for creating the perfect Japandi kitchen.

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Alt text: Black upper cabinets with a glass facade over the dark oak base cabinets covered with Terrazo countertop

Main features of Japandi Design Kitchen

We've already covered the main features of Scandinavian kitchen design, and since Japandi kitchens incorporate this style, the distinguishing features will be almost the same.

Natural materials

In both Japanese and Scandinavian cultures an essential role in creating a harmonious space and being one with nature. That is why the usage of natural materials in the Japandi kitchen design is almost mandatory. Wood for cabinets, tables, and other furniture; stone for countertops and backsplashes. And it is not only in furniture that naturalness is welcome. The Japanese kitchen design welcomes fabric textures, jute, and clay for additional embellishments. Their combined use will bring contrast to the design, energize the space, and create a unique aesthetic for the kitchen.

Of course, some people choose natural materials over synthetic ones for their Japandi style kitchen due to their superior quality and inherent sense of nature. But if purchasing the originals is not an option, technology has progressed to the point where buying and using copies of the necessary materials is possible. It is competitively priced, has the same quality, and is environmentally friendly.

Functionality

Japandi kitchen design is not only about simple furnishings and furniture, clean lines, and minimalism but about functionality elevated to the highest degree as well. There is a clear Japanese influence in this, where the entire space of the house is used efficiently and the design is based on three principles: harmony, focus, and tranquility. 

In the Japanese style kitchen, everything has a place, the unnecessary will be out of sight, and the space will be felt in every corner. To do this, you need to pick practical and convenient, which will not just fill the space but will be used to the maximum. The internal organization of cabinets will help with this issue, in which so-called hidden drawers are installed between the usual drawers. Thus, one kitchen cabinet can fit twice or even three times more things than usual.

Thanks to the right priorities and wishes in the organization of cabinets, in your Japandi kitchen each thing will have its role, and everything in the design will work as one unified organism.

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Alt text: Light oak base cabinets on the right, Dekton Arga covered kitchen island on the left, and a pantry with built-in oven behind.

Neutral and warm colors

In the Japanese kitchen style, monochrome is welcome. The usage of hues like white, gray, beige, graphite, and so on are soothing, gentle, and neutral-basic. They usually form the basis of the design to strengthen the calm and peaceful atmosphere. As accents blue and green shades can be used, which are also natural colors (sky, foliage), and thus a picturesque landscape is created in your kitchen for everybody to dine with great pleasure.

It is also a good idea to bring some warmth into the formed bright space, which is characteristic of the Scandinavian component of Japandi kitchen design. After all, according to the hügge worldview, next to comfort and coziness warmth should be prioritized as well. This can be achieved by using wooden materials of warm colors for furniture. They dilute the coolness of the light palette and make the kitchen brighter, without the usage of overly colored hues.

The uniqueness of the idea of playing with colors is that different tones combined with the color of the materials create a fascinating and harmonious visual ascent, making Japandi kitchen a relaxing place and colorful scenery.

Space and atmosphere

While being in a Japandi kitchen, it is very important to feel all the surrounding space around you. This design calls for spaciousness. This can be achieved with the right furniture and the choice of the furniture itself, especially the cabinets. In Scandinavian kitchens, it is preferable to use armless cabinets not only to achieve the maximum effect of minimalism but also to allow the space to expand as much as possible.

There is no need to worry if the kitchen is not big enough and there is no way to expand the space. As we wrote above, you can then take care of the functionality of the cabinets, so that nothing takes up space outside. There is a solution, for example, to transform the kitchen island into a multifunctional place.

The basic message of Japandi kitchen design is conveyed not only in the external design but also through the internal state. The Japanese and Scandinavians also have similar ideas about beauty: less vanity and excess. That makes them a perfect combination.

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Alt text: Light oak base cabinets with Dekton Arga countertop and white upper cabinets with an open shelf

Design elements for Japandi Style Kitchen

After reviewing the main features of Japandi kitchen design, let's now turn to the smaller but equally important details that complete the visual look of the kitchen and help complete the overall design.

Wood grains look

In Japandi kitchen natural components are used for both functional and decorative purposes. Although the high caliber of the materials used makes the kitchen functional, their beauty and unique characteristics are exactly the thing that gives Japandi kitchens their aesthetic.

Wood is one of the most popular materials in Scandinavian and Japanese minimalist kitchens, and that’s why it is considered a constant element of Japandi kitchen design. The coloring of wood and the uniqueness of its grain create that essential natural palette of hues required by this style. 

Take a look at our Berlin kitchen collection, featuring wood in all its beauty.

Oak, pine, larch, and American walnut look great in Japandi kitchen. It is not necessary though to make furniture from these trees. Or it’s better to say, not all furniture. For cabinets, for example, you can use wood veneer, which will be a good covering, and it will look like these cabinets were originally made of wood (if you consider the veneer, this is partially true). This way less wood is used, which is both good for the environment and budget, and the naturalness and organic nature of the Japandi kitchen design is enhanced. 

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Alt text: Frame-styled base cabinets and a pantry with a built-in oven

Framed style cabinets

Cabinets are the main furniture attribute in any kitchen, so their design is given special attention. If we talk about a Japandi style kitchen, then first of all those options of cabinets are considered that will bring minimalism to the design.

One of the popular solutions for Japandi kitchen cabinets is cabinets with framed-style doors. Although, they do not have a typical frame. The idea is that the cabinet box is installed in a way that its borders stick outward. The doors themselves go a bit deeper, beyond the boundaries of the cabinet box, which creates a frame like this. 

Japandi kitchen cabinets are most often handless, and a push-to-open mechanism is usually installed to open them. We tell a little about this system here. In short, the cabinet is opened by simply pushing on the edge of the fronts. It is quick, easy, and does not disturb the stacked furniture line.

Such a design of cabinets immediately refers to the Japanese kitchen style, their frame windows, doors, and cabinets come to mind. Straight lines and clear edges support the established minimalism while emphasizing the modernity of the Japandi kitchen.

We invite you to take a look at our Essence kitchen collection, where kitchen cabinets are made in this style, to appreciate their image of attractiveness.

Matte finishes

Continuing the theme of the natural look of a Japandi kitchen, it is important for the materials not only to look natural but to feel the same. Therefore, an appropriate choice and solution would be to secure the installation of kitchen cabinets and other furniture with a matte finish. 

Naturally, no wood will be smooth, but it also won’t be glossy enough to reflect light. Matte finishes and surfaces can give Japandi kitchen cabinets a discreet look, so they can slightly mute the colors, but not take away their natural hue completely. They also add softness to an already simple and reserved color palette. Matte finishes add depth to a Japandi kitchen design by not reflecting light and enhancing a calm and relaxing atmosphere.

Our Nordic kitchen collection has many features of Japandi style, and here you can see how the matte effect affects the design and look of the kitchen cabinets.

Another advantage of matte coatings is that they are easier to maintain than gloss, which requires a much more thorough attitude.

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Alt text: Light oak base cabinets with accessories on the surface, and black upper cabinets with glass facade

Accessories 

Handmade goods are valued and beautiful, and interiors from Scandinavia and Japan are well known for emphasizing their worth. Exquisite scratches, asymmetrical ceramics, paper lights, dried flowers, and houseplants in plain pots are some of the characteristics of Japandi style kitchen. It is also preferable to reduce the quantity of paintings if we are discussing them. 

Whatever color prevails in the interior, white, beige, or gray, plants can complement and decorate it. They will be the best accessory for your Japandi kitchen. Real greenery will bring freshness and vitality to the design. It will not only create a cozy and welcoming, but it will also improve the air quality, similar to Scandinavian interiors. 

Plants create the illusion of healthy and clean air, refreshing and purifying the environment. All that remains is to choose the most aesthetically pleasing and comfortable placements to enjoy their beauty and the well-being they bring to the space.

Japandi kitchen design is a great choice if you want to live an easy and unencumbered lifestyle, create a sense of calm and harmony in your kitchen, and have a truly landscaped area in your home. Or if you just like natural elements, textures, and neutral colors.

The two guiding concepts of Japandi kitchen are moderation and rejection of excess. As a result, a place like this can give you ideas for new recipes as well as cause you to reconsider some things. In a kitchen that is nearly entirely philosophical, would it be strange to suddenly think about life or dreams?

Even if it's not what you do in your spare time, you receive a calm, lively, and warm space with a Japandi kitchen, where you sometimes want to be just present. This kind of place is needed in our lives from time to time. Why not make one in your kitchen?

June 2, 2024
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6 min read
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