The home, including its outdoor spaces, should be an escape, but it often becomes a center of chaos with an onslaught of activities that take away from the aspects of a retreat. Incorporating the Zen spirit with furnishings and their arrangement can help create a stress-reducing environment, even amidst the comings and goings of active families.
Some confusion lies in comparing Zen with feng shui decorating. These are two very separate ideas with some overlapping concepts. One easy explanation is that feng shui is about bringing energy into a space and achieving balance through furniture arrangement in partnership with architecture. Zen is about achieving an inner calm that would be enhanced by surroundings. The latter is religion-oriented while the former is not. Some designers, however, will choose to downplay the spiritual aspects of Zen decorating while seeking to incorporate many of the aspects that create a sense of peace.
Beginning The Move Into A Meditative Space
From a decorating aspect, basic Zen principles allow for creativity without perfect balance, which is known as fukinsei. Because nature itself is imperfect, arrangements can mimic this effect through odd numbered furniture groupings or display pieces that are composed of high and low items or varying textures.
Kanso, which means simplicity, and kokou, which translates into austerity, might go hand-in-hand from a design perspective. Creating a minimalist space and eliminating clutter does not have to be extreme. It only needs to reflect order and beauty in arrangements.
Shizen, or naturalness, allows for an eclectic presence in design if desired. The use of natural materials is always encouraged and can include an abundance of greenery mixed in with furnishings crafted from wood and other materials. In Japanese execution, this naturalness is often planned rather than one that is left to random placement.
Tranquility is a meditative process that also translates to living spaces or the outdoors. Known as seijaku, it can begin with early morning quiet before the birds begin singing or can be found in that first fresh snow before neighborhood children rush outdoors to destroy the pristine landscape. Related to this concept, yugen is about sensing another dimension in visible items. It might be enjoying the shadows cast by lamps at night or viewing surroundings in a different way on cloudy days.
Not every Zen arrangement requires precise thought, as datsuzoku represents. It allows the freedom to veer off a specific design path to bring some surprising element into spaces. This could easily be that ah-ha moment as visitors first enter a home.
Achieving Nirvana with Wicker
The principles of Zen in design are compelling reasons to incorporate wicker, either as furniture or accessories. Creating a seamless flow of nature from the outdoors to inside is easy to accomplish by selecting coordinating pieces for the patio, a sun room and living or dining spaces. This continuity can begin with all-weather sofas and chairs, combined with accent tables for outdoor areas. If decks, patios and porches are covered, there are many natural rattan pieces that can be selected as a match for indoors and outside.
Vintage and distressed finishes along with the natural beauty of rattan cane, bamboo and woven grasses bring Zen elements into any space. Designers have traditional options with wood and wicker cabinet or furniture pieces. Modern sectionals provide a chance to take a minimalist approach to a living room or patio setting.
The Zen approach to decorating is two-fold. First, choose wicker and other furniture styles that incorporate one or more of the seven basic principles. Then, carve out time every day to enjoy the surroundings.