The classic starter apartment for most people in Japan is a 1R or 1K. Both of these apartment layouts are essentially rectangular boxes with a large sliding glass door that opens to a balcony. The flooring in most apartments in Japan is wood laminate. As for walls, textured, functional off-white wallpaper is the standard fare.
When you move into your 1R or 1K apartment, it will likely look something like this:
How do you get started decorating your very functional but very cookie-cutter living space?
Below are nine nicely decorated 1R apartments to help you get inspired. The design ideas all come from Roomclip.jp, Japan’s largest interior design and photo sharing app.
1. Go with a light color scheme if you want to create a sense of openness
Room idea via Roomclip User Grace.
White and light color palettes create the illusion of greater space. A bonus tip is to find just the right-sized shelf for those narrow spaces. The shelf at the upper left is the LERBERG shelf from IKEA, with a price of ¥2,499 ($23).
2. Use accent lighting for a warm effect
This is a very grown up and subdued room. The potted plants work well with the natural brown and tan colors, while the LED Christmas lights add a bit of playfulness.
3. Use textures and patterns to create a cozy aesthetic
Mix and match different patterns and textures to create a comfortable space. A bonus tip is to choose a good side table. It can be your everything table in a small space. The one pictured is from IKEA, the LÖVBACKEN, with a price of ¥8,999.
4. Banish ugly lighting
5. Use your cat or dog as a design element
Pets make the best accent pieces and of course, will keep your cushions and bed warm all winter long.
6. Create multifunctional nooks to separate your space
7. Splurge on a nice piece or two
8. Strategically place furniture and area rugs to create more space
9. Find an area rug that suits your personality and make it the focus point of the room
An area rug can set the color scheme and whole tone for your room, making it easier to choose the furniture to match. The blue cabinet in the photo is from IKEA.
10. Bonus tip: Why corner rooms are great
Average rent for corner apartment units in Japan tends to be more expensive than for center rooms because you’ll have one less neighbor and almost always at least one more window.
If you’re looking into what the apartment hunting process in Japan entails, here’s our quick rundown of what to expect. Knowledge is half the battle, and you’ll want to be prepared since the battlefield of apartment hunting takes no prisoners.
Where should you live in Tokyo? Check out all our Tokyo Area Guides to find the perfect place!
Lead photo: Via Roomclip user ineko_k