One of the unique challenges in condo living is managing the condo layout and space. When you look at a bare condo for the first time, you have a vision of how you want it to look. But when you’re finally moving in, you suddenly don’t know where to put everything.
Such is the case when you have to make do with limited square footage. When you’re faced with this dilemma, it helps to think like what Japanese people do in terms of home design. Japanese design parameters are high on minimalism, the extreme kind. But realizing that you probably need more than just a bed foam on the floor, you can take off from minimalism and go for simplicity with consideration to aesthetics and function.
That goes as far as finding ways to maximize condo space. You make sure that everything in your condo is exactly what you need. But where exactly do you put everything? In that case, you can pretend like you’re playing a game of Tetris, where the objective is knowing where every single thing goes.
Put together Japanese design with Tetris-style condo space planning and you get a condo that is modest and balanced. Here’s how you can achieve it.
Storage shelf on the entryway
The Japanese home experience starts with a genkan or the entryway that welcomes visitors. In traditional Japanese homes, a getabako or shelf is found in the entryway used for storing shoes.
To mimic this in your condo interior design, keep the entryway uncluttered with a storage shelf. Use it to store things that you usually pick up before heading out the door such as shoes, bags, coat, umbrella or hat. This space-saving hack does not only save floor space but also keeps things in order the Japanese way.
Let it slide
Effective condo space planning should make the home feel light and airy. The Japanese achieves this by using the shoji or the traditional Japanese style sliding doors. Authentic screens are usually made of fine translucent paper held inside a wooden frame, but these days, glass panels inside a wooden grid are rather common.
The advantage of using these sliding doors is that they do not block natural light, which is important in making your condo look bigger than it really is. If you can, you may replace a large expanse of concrete wall with a glass-paneled sliding door. You may do this with the door leading to your bedroom or the balcony. This will make your condo look more expansive and airy.
Low to the ground
As you have probably observed in a Japanese tea ceremony, most of the furniture is low to the ground. You may pattern your condo with this design aesthetic without compromising so much floor space. You just have to keep them to a minimum and know where exactly to put them.
A low plank table with floor cushions can provide additional seating area. A bed frame low to the ground also looks clean and polished.
Slide and hang it up in the kitchen
Modern rental apartments in Japan are also very small but very efficiently laid out. The kitchen in a Japanese home is usually long and narrow, like some condo layouts. What do you do to make sure you are able to use every inch of floor space wisely?
You may hang a rack above the sink and under the kitchen cabinets for paper towels, pot holders, and other essentials. You may also slip a rack between the fridge and the sink for pantry supplies.
Order in the bathroom
The toilet is usually separated from the bathtub room in most rental apartments in Japan. And the toilet is the one that is quite narrow. Condo dwellers can very much relate to this since bathrooms in condos are usually very small and sometimes even function as laundry room.
To save floor space and use more space in the bathroom, mount a floating shelf above the toilet for all your bath essentials. You may also fit a compact shelf in between toilet and sink or toilet and wall where you can store supplies such as toilet paper and cleaning materials.
Multipurpose furniture for multipurpose rooms
One of the most common condo space-saving ideas is investing in multipurpose furniture. Expandable furniture such as a breakfast bar you can extend to a six-seater dining table, a floating shelf on the wall that can be turned into a home office table, or a sofa that can be transformed into a bed are just some examples of multipurpose furniture that save space and increase functionality of a small home.
In Japanese interior design, traditional bedding is usually folded and stored during the day. This means the bedroom can be used for other purposes such as sitting or dining. You can do this in your condo, too. Make your space more flexible by investing in multipurpose and movable furniture.
Wooden furniture for minimalist interior
There isn’t much furniture in a traditional Japanese home. But since you need some, choose ones that have clean lines, preferably made of natural wood. Natural wooden elements can be seen everywhere in Japanese homes—from floors, walls, doors, and windows. Clean-lined wood elements are consistent with the objective of keeping the home uncluttered.
A lantern-style pendant light may be hanged over the kitchen counter, while simple wooden chairs can be placed under it. A sleek wooden cabinet can hold the entertainment system. A ladder-type rack can be placed in the bathroom for towels and baskets of bath essentials.
Well-ordered elements of nature
Japanese interior design is about zen. It is about serenity and calm. Achieve these by incorporating elements of nature in your home. Traditional Japanese plants such as bonsai and bamboo or tall and sleek indoor greens such as palms or orchids add to the air of tranquility.
But the Japanese know exactly how to balance these natural elements. No need to pack up on wood décor or start an indoor garden. Too much of the good thing can be bad too. A tall potted palm in a corner in the living room or a decorative bonsai on top of a coffee table should be enough.
Decide whether to keep or toss out
The ultimate space-saving hack you can learn from the Japanese is buying and keeping what you only need. You must have a space for everything. This is the start of keeping your condo uncluttered. Keep furniture pieces to a minimum and ensure that each one serves a purpose and function.
The Japanese design is about simplicity and order. Simplify your life and turn your space into a peaceful and calming home. All it takes is knowing what you need and where exactly to put them.