For many Modsy customers, a zen home design with minimal furnishings, colors, and objects is the ultimate modern haven. Creating a zen resting place is a way to escape the chaos of the outside world and create a home space that’s grounding—helping you reclaim your inner peace.

large living room designed with two facing sofas flanking a large fireplace, burl wood coffee table, minimal decor, and a neutral color scheme

What Is Zen Interior Design?

When you think of zen interior design, you might think of a spa, where water features, plants, and ambient music abound. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Zen interior design originated in Japan and is deeply connected to the practice of meditation. In the world of interior design, it’s all about using a minimalist approach to create an environment that is balanced, harmonious, and relaxing.

Zen style draws inspiration from the actual practices of Zen, as well as the incorporation of nature into your decor. (Biophilic interior design, anyone??)

So, what does this look like in action? Organic modern design and Japandi interior design are both great examples. This involves rooms that use natural materials throughout and feel serene at every turn; calming hues that soothe the senses; and simple, streamlined furniture that play up the ‘less is more’ aesthetic. All of these elements come together for a home that inspires rest and relaxation from the moment you step inside.

But even though the look is minimal, sometimes finding the right pieces to get this look at home can be a challenge. So, for some quick inspiration and guidance, we’re breaking down the zen home look here, offering some zen design ideas to help you build a calm, quiet retreat filled with style.

zen living room design with a gray sectional sofa, lots of natural materials, neutral decor, and an open inviting layout

1. Get Comfy With Clean Lines

A calm home is a comfortable home. So when it comes to furniture for a zen room, choose pieces that have simple forms but are big on comfort. A large sectional with clean lines is a great foundation for a zen living room, while a sleek sofa works perfectly in a smaller space. Carry this approach over to minimalist ottomans and accent tables as well!

Bonus points for using natural textiles like linen, cotton, and wool in your fabrics and upholstery, which will help you strike the perfect balance of smooth and soft in your space.

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zen living room design with neutral color scheme, gray sectional sofa, plants, and wood accent furniture

2. Opt For a Soothing Palette

Warm neutral colors, pastels, and earth tones all have a way of instilling calm in a home, so lean into those shades and explore the entire spectrum. Think foggy grays with seafoam green, lavender with sherbert orange, and light wood tones with off-white upholstery. Keeping to soft, dreamy hues will create a soothing vibe throughout your zen room.

Want to learn more about color theory and why some colors are more soothing than others? Check out our podcast episode on environmental psychology!

neutral living room design full of natural materials, minimal styling, and a gray brick fireplace

3. Minimize Clutter

A cluttered space is the antithesis of calm. And a zen home is all about stripping things away and being thoughtful about what you do bring into your space. You don’t have to Marie Kondo your rooms, but try to edit down your belongings and furnishings. Use this zen bedroom storage furniture as inspiration. Or invest in hidden storage pieces to limit the number of things you have on display.

Reducing clutter, along with the next few tips, is where you’ll start seeing a lot of overlap with zen design and the principles of feng shui.

neutral living room design with a soothing color palette, minimal styling, and abstract art

4. Simplify Your Styling

Minimal styling goes hand-in-hand with banishing clutter. With the objects and furnishings that you do keep and showcase, try not to over-style. That means displaying only a few select objects on tables and shelving, adding just a few pillows to your sofa, and not overcrowding your walls with art. It’s a minimalist approach that will create breathing room within your spaces.

blue bedroom design with sleek furniture, neutral decor, lots of plants, and natural textures

5. Invite Greenery Inside

Plants inspire calm and happiness, and rooms with greenery can also add a bit of life to your spaces. We love decorating with plants and greenery as a way to add color to minimalist spaces. Not to mention they are natural air purifiers! Not sure where to start? Check out our houseplant guide. Or take inspiration from this room and try bringing in a few tall plants to liven up empty corners in a modern zen bedroom!

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zen bedroom design with blue walls, neutral decor, shelf gallery wall, and plants

6. Let In Lots Of Natural Light

A dark, cave-like interior doesn’t exactly inspire a zen feel. If you have big windows, choose your window coverings wisely. Skip the heavy drapes or opt for sheers to let in lots of natural light. Don’t have a ton of windows? Spread some dim lighting throughout your rooms. If you’re trying to figure out how to choose lighting for your space, we like the three-tier approach: A lamp on a table or console, a floor lamp in a corner, and sconces on your walls. Or, layer lots of candlelight, which always lend a sense of calm to spaces.

zen living room design in neutral color scheme, lots of natural materials, and a symmetrical layout

7. Find Balance and Harmony

Creating balance and harmony in the way you lay out your space is a simple way to make your home feel more zen. A symmetrical layout is a great way to achieve this. Symmetry helps visually organize your space and creates a sense of stability in the room. If you’re not sure where to start, think in pairs: two chairs, two poufs, matching accent tables, you name it!

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modern zen living room design with a green sofa and white kitchen in the background

8. Explore Sound and Smell

Zen practice involves incorporating the sounds of nature and other soothing sounds to your home. Consider adding wind chimes outside your front door, or playing meditation music inside if the noise outside your window isn’t soothing.

Smell is another huge factor in creating a zen home. You want your space to reflect natural and calming smells. A simple way to incorporate these scents is through diffusing oils or burning candles or incense.

Designer Tip: If you have pets, keep their beds and possessions clean and put away to minimize any animal smells in your home.

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3 replies
    • Modsy says:

      Thanks for asking, Allyson! You can find a similar color for your walls using “Vermont Slate” by Benjamin Moore. Just remember that lighting and decor in your space can alter the way wall color looks, so it’s always smart to start with a sample swatch on your walls to see how you like it.

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