Tips and Guides

Reader Question: How Can I Create Zen-Inspired Living and Dining Areas?

Real Living consulting style editor and design consultant Issa Villar shares 5 tips on how to create a Zen feel at home


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Read the original article ("Ask It") in the October 2013 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details. 

Q: My wife and I do not share the same ideas when it comes to decorating our place. I would like our living room to have that "Zen"-style, but my wife disagrees with my choices of furniture, saying they are baduy. Any tips on how we can make our living and dining areas look comfortable and stylish? — Roj Galera 

("Before" photo by Roj Galera)

A: Let your wife know that you would like to have some input in the design of your space. Discuss your options with her and hopefully you'll reach a compromise.

Based on the "before" photo, it seems you're already on the right track—your place is clear of clutter and you're using natural materials and earthy colors.

I would just make a few tweaks to update your look and add comfort: 

1. Wooden furniture is common in most "Zen"-style rooms, but yours are a bit too bulky. I would trade in the three-seater chair for an upholstered sofa in a light gray, cream, or beige. You can still keep the two armchairs as accent pieces.
2. Add an area rug in a soft or natural material. Go for a plain or simple-patterned rug in light hues.
3. Balance all the lines. The lines on the railing between the living and dining areas, plus the lines on the curtains and chairs, can be overwhelming. You can minimize that by replacing the sofa (as suggested earlier), as well as the curtains.
4. All the brown wood can look boring. Accentuate with light earthy colors with pillows or abstract artwork.
5. Finish the look with stone pots or planters in grays, light blues, and light greens to place your plants in. Relegate the terracotta pots outdoors.

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