photo by EverJean
Imagine having a zen room in your own home; a room that you can use to meditate, read, practice yoga or just have a bit of “me” time. Why not put together your own zen room? Traditionally, Asians enjoy sitting on the floor with minimal furniture, so this can be our model. To have one room, where you can switch your mind off with a tranquil Asian environment, reconnecting with your spirit may be very healing. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started to create your own zen room. Not all rooms have the same shape, so to make things simple, we will use the standard American bedroom as an example, which is a rectangular room with a window and closet.
Begin by emptying the entire room. Remove all furniture, throw carpets, wall hangings, accessories and window coverings so it’s down to it’s bare walls and flooring. Does the room look smaller now? Many people say an empty room feels a lot smaller than a room full of furniture, so don’t feel alarmed.
Now, we have a blank canvas.
Let’s put together a Zen Room!
Have you ever been to a temple where they meditate? In Japan, these rooms are often quite large, cold and constructed of dark wood. But since we are in a residence, and these rooms are quite small, I recommend a light and airy room that may help uplift your spirits.
Let’s start with paint. So, what’s a good paint color? My recommendation would be a warm neutral color without a distinctive tint. Let the color fall into the background so nothing stands out, nothing interferes with your meditation and quiet time.
My choice for the walls is Sherwin Williams SW6134 Netsuke. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence but the name of the color is a Japanese kimono accessory, so they must have had some Asian influence when mixing this color! If you have a built-in closet with doors and trim, go ahead and paint them all the same color. In interior design, we use this method to make things disappear. If your window trim is natural wood, it’s best to leave them as they are. If they are painted, you may paint them this same color as the walls if you desire.
Now for the ceiling, a color that’s one shade lighter will help expand the space. Use SW6133 Muslin for this. With the same tone as Netsuke, it will make the room feel cohesive.
You can add an accent wall if you want, but let’s keep it the color in the same family by using SW 6139 Mossy Gold. If the room is small I don’t recommend an accent wall because it’ll make the room feel smaller.
Now that the paint is in place, let’s consider the flooring. Usually, bedrooms have carpet instead of a hard surface. A warm surface wood flooring is one of the best options. It costs about $10.00 a square foot installed. For a zen look and because bedrooms are usually quite small, I would suggest a light colored wood, such as maple, because it would visually expand the space.
Another Asian favorite is the Japanese tatami mat. I’ve seen some online that sells a 9’x9′ tatami set for under $700.00. So, for 81 square feet, that’s about $8.60 before shipping. Do some surfing on the net to find a good deal. Remember that there are different sizes of tatami mats so make sure you measure your room and mats accordingly. I have seen people place these mats directly on top of the carpet while others place them directly on floor boards. Ideally, they should be raised off the ground because tatami mats like to breathe. If you live in a damp, humid area, it must be raised or it may be best to avoid the mats all together as they can grow mold. Use your good judgement. Tatami mats are best used for those who plan to sit on the floor, do not place chairs on this as it will ruin the mats. My other personal favorite flooring is cork. Today there are many options of cork, which is a warm and resilient surface that’s very easy to maintain.
Next, examine the baseboards. Because the room has minimal furniture, a large base board will help anchor the space. Choose a wood that matches your floor and a 5 1/2 inch height will work well in this situation.
The zen room is meant to be a yin space that’s quiet and peaceful. In feng shui we say horizontal lines are yin, more static, while vertical lines are yang or more dynamic. An empty room will have more horizontal lines which is what we want, but it’s also good to break up the wall vertically for a focal point.
A focal point helps settle your mind. In a traditional Japanese room, there is a tokonoma, an alcove that displays a scroll and flowers. They use vertical posts to differentiate the space from the wall. We can use this as a model for our zen room. By using pieces of baseboard we can create framed space. Divide the wall into thirds and place a baseboard from the corner of the ceiling to the one third point. Now, use the baseboard vertically and place one against the corner and the other at the one third point. You have now created a large frame that can become your focal point.
Place a scroll or images in a vertical manner to help break up the space. For window treatments, there are now various types of reed and cane blinds that are reasonably priced and work well in an Asian space. If you install one that falls to the floor, it creates an image that the window is larger and doesn’t cut the wall in half, making the space feel larger.
Now you have your own zen room! Why not try this as your new summer project? If you do have guests, you can always roll out the mattress or futon and you still have your own space during the rest of the year!
Do you have any good ideas for a zen room? Please do share with us!