Monday, July 27, 2020

A Minimalist Decorates





Some trinkets multiply.  One figurine becomes a set.  One photograph becomes a gallery wall.  People collect cameras, globes, vintage signs, ironstone pitchers, old tools, dolls – almost anything.

Even if you put together a collection over many years, and pay only a few dollars for each item at a thrift store or tag sale, you still need shelves and curios to house it all, and you'll be dusting it forever.

In traditional Japanese homes, décor is kept to a minimum.  Usually just one or two items are displayed in a small alcove called a tokonoma.

The tokonoma often holds a calligraphic scroll or painting, along with a bonsai, an orchid, or a simple flower arrangement.  The items are appropriate to the season, like spring blossoms or fall foliage, and express an appreciation for both art and nature.

You don't have to create a Japanese interior with tatami mats, translucent shoji screens, and square low-slung furniture to put the concept of a tokonoma into practice.  You don't need a special alcove, since a table or mantel shelf will do.

My style is not Japanese, but I have a coffee table in my living room.  On it, I sometimes display a pitcher holding roses or agapanthus from our garden, or a branch from a tree.  Other times I use a platter to hold a candle and some pinecones collected on a walk through the park, or shells and sea glass picked up at the beach, or some of my husband's mineral specimens.

On the wall over the couch I've hung a large painting that I love.

Except for a framed photo of our grandsons on the bookshelf, and a couple of green plants, that's the extent of our living room décor.

As a minimalist, I'm drawn to the tokonoma concept for several reasons:

  • It puts a spotlight on one or two special items, letting them shine rather than compete for attention in a crowd of knickknacks.
  • It discourages over-accumulation of decorative objects.
  • It provides an easy opportunity to celebrate the beauties of nature and the changing seasons.
  • It allows for a little change and a fresh look on a regular basis.
  • It's personal rather than mass-produced and factory-made.

Could you limit yourself to just one collection?  Could you let a single item be the focus of a wall, tabletop, or mantel?  What would you put in a tokonoma?



Photo by Oriento on Unsplash





2 comments:

  1. On our living room wall we have a huge blueprint of the railroad tracks near where my husband grew up dated the year after we graduated from high school. On the opposite wall we have black & white photos he took years later along those now abandoned tracks. On an end table we have a model of a motorhome made out of Lego blocks which represents two eras of my own history. That's it. That's us.

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    1. Linda, it sounds like you've chosen minimalist ways to express you and your husband's personalities and backgrounds. Very cool!

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