Nov 4, 2020

E-DESIGN | B&B interior design in Japan

B and B Design in Japan / Online Interior Design services


I often receive requests via e-mail and on Instagram about online interior design services. In fact, due to the pandemic, e-design had a strong acceleration, as it happened for all kind of virtual services. Actually, I have been giving online design services for many years, since I have been one of the first here in Italy to do e-design (even before creating this blog!).  I started because I always loved the idea of working for clients from different countries, as a way to learn more about different cultures and lifestyle habits.

To explain better how online design works, today I am sharing one of my latest e-designs, a B and B design for a client based in Japan.


Even if it was a small project, it has actually been one of the most challenging yet inspiring ones I did, and because of our cultural gap it took me longer than expected. But, at the end, I can say it has been really a beautiful experience. Lost in translation, here we go!



B and B Design in Japan


STEP 1 / Contact, First Questionnaire and Quotation


The client, as it always happens, contacted me by filling this Questionnaire about online interior design. In the questionnaire I ask for some general questions, to send some photos and the plan (when available)  and for a first contact e- mail, where I send a general pricing list and I ask for more info to create a free quotation for the project.

Once the quote is approved and signed, we started working together on the project. Before starting, I also always ask for the 50% of the final price, while the further 50% is always asked once everything is delivered. Working online is all about mutual trust and I experienced that this is the best payment options for both sides.

STEP 2 / Briefing and Second Questionnaire

To me, this is always the most important step of the process. In fact, collecting the most complete info about current situation, clients’ tastes and needs at the beginnings, will simplify a lot all the online design process. To do this, first I had a Skype call with the client to meet “in person”, then I asked the client to fill another questionnaire, tailor-made for the project.

Here what I asked in the second questionnaire:

  • Project Brief – including target, designated use, goals
  • What the client likes of the space
  • Favorite colors and materials
  • What the client wants to keep of the existing furniture
  • Lifestyle habits to keep in mind
  • Favorite interior style
  • Suggested furniture brands
  • Budget


Then, I asked for a more detailed plan where the client included all measures and other useful info such as existing lightings, facilities, etc. She also sent me a video of the space, which also is very useful to understand the current interior.

Here the brief and some images:

The room is in an old house that is located quite near from the sea. I would like to transform the house into a B & B. The first area that I would like to ask you to do interior design is a living room for the future guests. The target of the guest house is caucasian, such as people from the U.S. and Europe. The number of the guests would be one family (two adults and three children would be ideal). The house is quite old but it would be perfect if you design the room with making best use of the room originality. The house is 100 years old, which is very old for Japanese houses and you can see the nice old points in the house such as wood doors, the frames of the windows, walls, and the ceilings as well.  I suppose that you have your own images or ideas of “Japan”. I expect you to design the room using them. In addition, I would like to make the room (also and the house) customer attraction spot  through SNS such as Instagram.


STEP 3 / Concept Design


Once I collected all the info, I worked in the concept design. In the moodboard I created a visual recap the style of the project, with the materials, colors, and any other useful image to explain the project mood.

I wanted to create a space which keeps the traditional Japanese zen mood but at the same time is modern and very cosy. To create the color palette, I researched about traditional Japanese colors – as the client recommended to me – by choosing one special red called Akane-iro and an ink black called Sumi-iro ( see below), that I used as accent colors together with a sakura pink.

The Akane-iro it is a dark red dyed with madder grassroots. It is known to be frequently used, such as adjective empty at dusk. In addition, there is a scarlet color to be obtained as a madder dye grass, but this is much brighter hue than madder red with bright red.

The Sumi-iro, it is a gray-black close to the black corresponding to focus of “five colors of ink.” Ink used on the document is what it is hardened by adding the batter fragrance glue in the soot of good quality that Deki burning pine and rapeseed oil. Staining, as well as use the ink, such as Biro-ko trees and horse chestnut, a variety of materials have been used by the era. Ink black was the color that represents the Kyoji color and clothes of ordinary monk from ancient times, but I continue to spread as decoration enters the modern.

To complete the interior palette I selected for the background two warm hues, a beige and a tobacco brown, since I wanted to create a soft and moody feel. For the materials, I started as I always do from the existing materials, then I match some more modern ones with a very tactile feel. I choose then some simple and geometric shapes to give a calming feel, such as circles, and explored about some traditional Japanese designers such as the Noguchi lamps.

Together with the moodboard, I also sent two different proposals for the layout, which gave two different ways to translate the concept design into the real space. Here, I  worked by creating some interesting visual corners/ areas, other than in the whole room design. In both options, I designed a main space for the guests to meet and rest, and a second one to connect the interior with the exterior beautiful backyard.

option 1

option 2

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Looking for an online interior design for your home or new business?

Fill this fast questionnaire and get a free quote!

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STEP 4 / B and B Design

After the first delivery, I had another call with the client where we discussed about the concept design and the two options. The client choose the option 2, so I started then working more in the detail in the interior design according to the second layout.

Together with the client, I also did some adjustments to the first layout I delivered, while always keeping the original idea of creating a lower and an higher area inside the space. In fact, I designed a “low” sitting area in Japanese style, built on a new wooden platform in dark wood. This area will be also the focal point of the room, to be highlighted with a cluster of up-side-down umbrellas from the ceiling. To connect the room with the outdoor, I also designed another relax area, with a daybed and a coffe table with a clusters of lights over it. To make the area cozier, I suggested adding some curtain on the back and a soft rug on the front. To better understand the space I worked in 3d and sent a fast rendered view as a recap of the whole design.


Final layout

STEP 5 / Final Design – B and B Design in Japan

The final project delivery included the quoted layout, interior elevations, plus some more detailed drawings for the custom furniture ( the light daybed, the low coffee table and the wooden platform). Together with the drawings, I always deliver a final shopping list which includes:

  • furniture items
  • accessories list ( wall art, fabrics, rugs, ..)
  • lamps
  • paint specifications
  • finishes specifications (here, for the wooden floor)


Each item in the list includes a link to purchase it online and its indicative price ( in Yen ). At the end, together with this, I also deliver a budget recap, in this case the client asked also for two budget options – a cheaper and a more expensive one – so for doing this I gave two options for some items, such as lamps and furniture. To select furniture, paints, finishes, the client gave me some links of Japanese e-shops, some of them where only in Japanese so you can easily imagine that it was not that easy – but really fun, indeed.

Due to the pandemic the project realization is now in stand-by but I really look forward to see this design for real now!



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Looking for an online interior design for your home or new business?

Fill this fast questionnaire and get a free quote!

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