Japanese style tatami mats haven’t made inroads with American homeowners quite as much as some other Zen furnishings, such as futons and shoji screens. However, as more designers incorporate elements of tatami rooms in their contemporary designs, the concept is so foreign to upscale buyers. The only problem with tatami mats is trying to incorporate them into a home setting that includes Western style furnishings. Many decorators believe that the best way to use these organic rice straw mats is in a tatami room setting.
Surprisingly, tatami rooms are a popular “transition room” for empty nesters who suddenly find themselves with an extra bedroom or two. While one room may become the home office, another one is often transformed through the use of tatami mats, soft lighting, washy watercolors and Ikebana vases. This is not to say that the tatami room is merely a peaceful oasis for meditation; it can be far more than that. Some people decorate with acoustically-sound tatami mats to improve the soundproofing of a room so it can be used as a reading room or a place to practice martial arts. Tatami mats make a comfortable sitting space for crafters and artists as well, and a room like this is the ideal place to escape to the scent of incense and a moment of silence.
If you don’t have the space for a full tatami room, remember that tatami mats are often the perfect floor covering for a Zen bedroom. They look terrific with a platform bed or futon and they add dimension to neutral décor. When you want the kind of bedroom that exudes serenity and peace, there is nothing quite as inviting as tatami mats on the floor. Some homeowners also take tatami mats and incorporate them into a headboard that is mounted on the wall behind the bed. All of these new ways of displaying tatami mats differ from their original intention as a seat for Japanese nobility. Rather, today’s mats have come to symbolize the Asian and Japanese home design aesthetic.
In addition to floor coverings, tatami mats are also used as bed mats to stabilize a platform bed frame. They are crafted in Japan with a double layer of fine rush grass and filled with sustainable straw fill or natural cellulose fiber. Bound with organic twine, tatami mats are hand crafted with a black or black and gold brocade border. Each mat features a moisture resistant barrier on the bottom side.