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Kanso: creating harmony in your spaces for enhanced wellbeing

Kanso is a Japanese concept which comes from Zen philosophy. Zen encompasses: Fukinsei – asymmetry; Seijaku - silence; Shizen - naturalness; Koko - austerity; Datsuzoku - freedom from worldly attachments; and Yugen – insightfulness. With these in mind, Kanso is about simplicity, minimalism and only having the most essential items to help you achieve a calm and tranquil environment. It focuses on having less of everything and this includes possessions and décor like colour, texture and patterns thereby highlighting the beauty of a few simple, well made, functional items. In addition, flow and movement of energy within a space are key considerations.

Some principles of Kanso


Kanso is about being mindful about what you have and carefully curating and keeping only the most essential items that you need to function now: functional furniture – a table, chair and bed; functional kitchen pieces – cup, bowl, plate, cutlery and minimal cooking implements for example. Think, less is more.

Energy flow

Kanso aims for a flow of energy. Think minimal and clear furniture arrangements and functional storage for all your belongings to keep surfaces and spaces clear. The more objects in a room, the more difficult it is for energy to flow. Stagnate energy contributes feeling stuck and clutter creates feelings of disharmony and chaos. Having clear, functional spaces with good energy flow creates positive energy and fosters harmony and creativity.

Some ideas to help you apply Kanso to your environments


Decluttering can be therapeutic and make your space feel more peaceful. Pick a room or a draw or a shelf to start with. For each item ask yourself whether you have used the item in the last few months and if it is functional. If the answer is no, then give it away or recycle it.

Highlight beautiful functional design

Kanso can be quite austere and monk-like when followed strictly. However, you might decide to apply the philosophy to just one key room to highlight good design and functionality and create a calm, effective space. Think about which room you would like more peace and harmony in and start with that.

In your living room

Go through all your ornaments and accessories like cushions, rugs, books, magazines, plants and fire tools and keep only the essential and treasured. Store away things that you feel you must keep and only display a few key pieces to create a sense of calm and beauty for relaxing and entertaining in.

In your bedroom

Your bedroom should have a peaceful feel with nothing to distract you to foster good quality rest and sleep. Clear your surfaces of books and knick knacks. Display one treasured photo or have once beautiful vase to keep updated with a fresh bloom. Clear out your wardrobe and cupboards by donating or recycling clothes no longer worn or worn out so choosing your clothes daily is easy and stress free.

In your kitchen

Go through your cupboards and see if there are any appliances and implements that you don’t or rarely use, for example, the pasta or bread machine you bought and have only ever used once. Do you really need all the spatulas, spoons and ladles in the container near your stove? Donate or recycle what is not essential for your everyday cooking needs. Get rid of used by food and chipped or broken crockery. Display one or two beautiful items like a lovely teapot or serving platter and clear everything else. Make the space easy and enjoyable to cook in to nourish yourself, family and friends.

In your bathroom

Go through your cupboards and throw out any out of date, dried up cosmetics and toiletries. Get rid of any towels that have seen better days. Clear the surfaces. Just have one or two beautiful candles or bubble bath bottles rather than a mass of untidy tea lights and toiletry bottles. Make your bathroom ‘spa like’ so you can enjoy a relaxing bath or shower and pamper yourself.

In your workspace

This can be an overwhelming space to clear so do it in stages. Shred or recycle paperwork and donate books that are no longer needed. Do you have out of date tech that needs recycling? What objects and furniture are distracting you that you could move out? Create a clear space for effective and creative thinking.

In your garden

Can you cut back on the number of pots and containers you have? Do you have too many pieces of outdoor furniture and other outdoor paraphernalia? Store garden tools out of site. Declutter so you can enjoy the peace of your outdoor space.

Over to you

Which space will you Kanso?


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