When we hear the word “zen” we think of tranquillity and serenity. The kind of ambience you feel when you're having a relaxing massage with soft, entrancing music. A setting where you can truly leave all your worries at the door and just turn off your mind to relax and be one with your (hopefully soothing) thoughts. That’s because “zen” is a Japanese term for “meditation”. Zen energy is about creating a space worthy of meditation and relaxation and typically means a minimalist design, negative space, and calming neutral tones. Which honestly sounds like a blissfully serene home aesthetic whether your goal is to reach a state of nirvana or you simply like the appeal of an uncluttered home. While it may be tempting to crowd your space with every item that claims to be “zen”, it is really easy to go overboard on decorating, so we’ve done the research and product testing for you and found these seven must-have decor items that will create your own personal zen oasis.
1. Essential Oil Diffuser
Aromatherapy is a wonderfully diverse form of healing that uses essential oils for a wide array of purposes, including treating ailments like anxiety, depression, insomnia, and even dry mouth (Hopkins Medicine). Although there isn’t much science to back up these claims (as of yet), no one can deny that an essential oil diffuser can add a certain level of sophistication and repose to a room with the added benefit of a steady stream of your favourite, calming scent into the air. Placebo or not, it’s a zen vibe. Also in winter months - this added moisture will really help your skin.
2. Weighted Blanket
No cozy corner is complete without a few throw blankets lying around, but why not get a blanket that does double duty? As in, a blanket that completes the homey look of a living room draped over an armchair and can put you in an unparalleled level of relaxation.
I was a weighted blanket sceptic. I couldn’t understand why you would want to feel like you had a ten-pound weight slowly crushing you while you slept, but I was forced to slowly remove my foot from my mouth when I finally tried one for myself. It was heavenly. According to Sleep Foundations, weighted blankets use a therapeutic technique called deep pressure stimulation to promote feelings of calm (Sleep Foundations, 2021). Created to mimic the effects of swaddling a baby (hold the claustrophobic feelings), these blankets are meant to ease stress and anxiety, calm the nervous system, and help adults sleep like a baby.
Weighted blankets should be personalized so they weigh about 10% of the user’s body weight; so it’s not a one-size-fits-all product, but once you find the right fit, be prepared to have all your stress washed away while you sleep like you haven’t slept in years.
3. Himalayan Salt Lamp
I don’t know about you, but every time I walk into a massage room or yoga studio that has a Himalayan salt lamp, I’m drawn to it like a mosquito to one of those light zapper lamps on a summer night - utterly mesmerized. These salt lamps are carved out of large chunks of Himalayan salt, essentially acting like a lamp shade around a light bulb, resulting in an unmistakable pink glow when lit. Advocates claim their benefits span everywhere from helping your sleep, boosting your mood, and even improving the surrounding air quality. We’re not so sure about improving air quality but the captivating glow is sure to bring a calm and serenity to any zen décor.
4. Zen Garden
If you’ve ever found yourself thinking, “Gee, I really enjoy gardening, I wish I could do this inside, and on a way smaller scale” well then, I have good news for you! These tiny gardens literally have zen right in the name and it’s not hard to see why. At their roots, a zen garden is a little rectangle of white sand that comes with a tiny rake for you to manicure perfect lines in your little garden, and it's almost almost ASMR-level satisfying, which basically means you're getting to a deep state of nirvana on your own. Some zen gardens come with little stones, or even living bonsai trees for you to take your miniature green thumb to a whole new level. But, even if you don’t have any plans to take up the hobby of micro-horticulture, any zen garden is sure to bring a certain calmness to any space. You can also look to creating a zen garden outside or make plans to visit one on the weekend.
5. Aesthetic Storage
There is nothing less zen than loose clutter and knickknacks lying around all over the place. A zen home is simple, uncluttered, and without distraction. Find a storage system that fits into your space and doesn’t shout “I’m hiding dirty secrets” but more, “I blend into the background but contribute to the aesthetic.” We love decor items that double as art and storage, ideally of unusual shapes, and especially if they have soft textures. They will fit the simplistic vibe you’re trying to create, they hide anything you don’t want on display, and they look sleek enough to be a décor item on their own - functional storage at its finest.
No relaxing bubble bath or meditation practice is complete without the aromatic boost and quiet pops and crackles of your favourite scented candle. Similar to the aromatherapy of an oil diffuser, there are many health claims surrounding the use of candles that frequent users swear by, including improving mood and memory, as well as a few undeniable benefits like creating a perfectly zen environment for meditation, and boosting the ambience and improving the smell of any room.
Having a signature, calming scent for your home that your nose can expect whenever you walk in the door is a great way to ensure a level of relaxation whenever you come home and preserve that comfortable home oasis you’ve created. Although the scent is the real selling point for any candle enthusiast, why not choose something that smells great and is great to look at? I came across this steampunk-inspired beeswax coil that is sure to put you in a trance-like state when you watch it burn. A treat for the eyes and the nose, if you will. There’s also no stress involved with this open flame - the “Candle By The Hour”, as the industry is marketing it, is inspired by a similar design from the 1600s called a “courting candle” which burns for twenty minutes with every inch you pull through its clip. Then it will extinguish itself. One less thing to think about when you’re attempting to turn your mind off!
7. Textured Carpeting
When I think about a zen atmosphere, I picture a Japanese tea room with one low-to-the-ground rectangular table on a big rug and not a couch or chair in sight. While you may not think of sitting on the floor in your own personal zen space, your area rug should look inviting enough that someone might want to lie down for a little rest after a relaxing meditation session. The look we’re going for is tasteful, but understated so you probably won't find a shag carpet in any tea house in Tokyo, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a suitably appealing rug that’s still a sensation station for your toes to walk on.
This rug is a particular favorite because it has subtle, zen-garden swirls created from un-dyed wool - so it’s a soft surface perfect for morning yoga or just lying down at any time of day.