When you step into a Japanese tea house, you enter a world of rich historical tradition, careful rituals, and beautiful minimalist design. It's no wonder people want to bring elements of the Japanese tea house into their own home decor. Creating a Japanese-style tea room in your home provides you with an oasis of tranquillity. Even if you don't have an entire room to devote to the style, bringing a few elements into a living room or bedroom helps impart the peaceful style of a Japanese tea house.
Walls and Floors
Japanese tea houses have traditional tatami mat flooring made from panels of padded, tightly-woven straw. Since it is difficult to install traditional tatami floors in an American home, choose flooring that mimics the tatami aesthetic. Light-coloured hardwood floors work well. On carpeted floors, an area rug made from bamboo or rattan with a dark fabric border helps create the austere ambience needed for a good tea room. Your walls should also be a light colour to create the effect of rice paper and to create a bright, contemplative space. Dark woodwork brings in a rustic, natural element to your room design.
Tea houses in Japan have a low, square table in the centre of the room. The table should be at a height where the tabletop is easily accessible from sitting on your heels with your legs folded underneath you, in the traditional Japanese custom. You do not need any sort of chair, as everything is centred around the floor. Instead, arrange large cushions around the four sides of the table to sit. The contrast between dark and light is an important concept in Japanese design, so choose a table made of dark wood to contrast with the pale colours in the rest of the room.
Japanese tea rooms have an alcove in the wall where flowers, scrolls and artefacts are prominently displayed. If you don't have a built-in alcove, a bay window, shelf or hanging cabinet without doors is a great way to display these accessories. Ikebana minimalist style of Japanese floral design, and most tea rooms feature these arrangements in the alcove. If you can't find true ikebana arrangements, a pot of tall, spindly orchids creates the same effect. You can find pictures with Japanese calligraphy or historic Japanese prints at any home design store to achieve the effect of a traditional Japanese scroll. For extra authenticity, change your accessories periodically to reflect the seasons.
Most Japanese tea houses are surrounded by a traditional tea garden. If your tea room doesn't have a door opening to the outside, create a gardenlike atmosphere near a bright, sunny window with potted plants. Tea houses are quiet and peaceful, so choose your room accordingly. Most American homes do not have sliding rice-paper doors like a true Japanese tea house, but a good substitute is a room divider or screen made from a natural material. Place it in front of the door so you feel a Japanese tea house atmosphere as soon as you walk into the room. Always remove your shoes before entering, as this is an important Japanese custom.
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