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Is there such a thing as a timeless trend? There are timeless aesthetics—for instance, the functional, practical minimalism inherited from Scandinavian industrial design, or the deep appreciation of nature, transience, and imperfections that has become synonymous with Japanese artisanship.
Together, these two traditions have found a common expression in the Japandi style of interior décor, and luxury real estate buyers, sellers, and professionals are taking notice.
What is Japandi style and why should you care?
Japandi is a portmanteau—Japan plus Scandi. “The current Japandi influence feels like a fresh new incarnation of a centuries-old confluence between these two cultures,” says Michelle St. Clair, Broker Associate with Sotheby’s International Realty – Los Feliz Brokerage in Los Angeles.
Recently, she has seen a rising demand for Japandi design. So too has Chantel Mehrabanian, Luxury Real Estate Agent with Sotheby’s International Realty – Sunset Strip Brokerage. “The Japandi design trend quickly surged in popularity in the past year as our clients spent more time at home, and sought out functional spaces with sleek, clean lines,” says Mehrabanian.
Japandi design is a sensation, in more ways than one. Not only is it a popular look, but it’s a particular feeling of serenity, simplicity, and comfort.
“Japandi design is intentional—it incorporates elements that exist in nature, with touches of greenery and organic textures to give a home a sense of belonging with its surrounding environment,” explains Mehrabanian. “Unlike other minimalist styles, Japandi adds a distinctive warmth by incorporating natural textures like wood and bamboo.”
Creating value through Japandi design’s versatility
It’s an excellent style for luxury agents to share with clients—especially those looking to remodel or redecorate their homes—because it’s high-end yet low maintenance.
“We always try to coach our clients about striking the right balance when making substantial improvements,” says Joey Kiralla, Sales Associate with Sotheby’s International Realty – Los Feliz Brokerage. Japandi styling provides this balance by being tasteful but unostentatious, elevated but utilitarian, and upscale but cost-effective.
“In the luxury space, clients have always sought out how to cultivate an effortless flow for indoor-outdoor living—and Japandi design creates this flow easily, and works wonderfully in any type of home,” Mehrabanian says.
“If a home utilizes any kind of minimalist design, poor quality craftsmanship sticks out like a sore thumb. For my buyers, it’s critical that such a high-value asset also has the highest quality finishes. For my sellers contemplating renovation, I advise on Japandi style because of its broad appeal, and the ease with which it can be accomplished with quality materials,” she adds.
But beyond building and renovating, Japandi design is an asset when staging homes as well. “Besides the obvious benefit of not needing mass furniture inventory, the aesthetic allows for negative space to be the asset and the highlight,” says St. Clair.
Ultimately, Mehrabanian notes that Japandi style’s universal appeal comes from how it reinforces the aesthetics of simplicity, warmth, and order.
“Since we’re all inherently drawn to these three design concepts, the main benefit of staging a home with a Japandi mindset is inclusivity,” she explains.
“Prospective buyers can easily project their own style onto a space if the staging is simple and clean. Plus, minimalist styles like Japandi don’t create a risk of overly distracting interior décor scaring away buyers.”
The essential elements of Japandi interiors
How can you help your clients create their own Japandi-inspired space for themselves or their potential buyers? St. Clair and Kiralla have actually worked with a noted home designer, Andreas E.G. Larsson of HabHouse, who has incorporated it into several projects.
“Though he’s heavily influenced by the purity of minimalism and functionality emblematic of Scandinavian design, he always has been ahead of the curve in integrating the hallmark characteristics that define the Japandi aesthetic,” says St. Clair. “This means a subtle complement to existing nature and outdoor items, along with organic materials that highlight specific, artful furniture pieces that go beyond the concept of minimalism.”
St. Clair outlines three fundamentals of Japandi design that you and your clients can consider:
- “Incorporate items that carry a sense of elegant minimalism,” she says. While the spaces themselves should be linear and purposeful, you can curate statement pieces that are engaging and interesting, even if they aren’t elaborate.
- Muted colors for walls and furnishings help to accentuate the open spaces, cultivating a sense of continuity and flow. “Any natural lighting in the structure is also key,” says St. Clair.
- While many Japandi designers emphasize oneness with the surrounding environment, not every home has easy access to the outdoors. “If that’s the case, bring in some complimentary plants that contribute a sense of nature throughout main living spaces,” she adds.
“My philosophy is that your home should be your dream destination,” says Mehrabanian. “For many, that means creating a space that is efficient and purposeful without feeling sterile—and that’s something Japandi style accomplishes exceptionally well.”