As any true environmentalist will tell you, there is nothing quite as toxic in a home as the materials used to make carpeting and furniture. Not that most homeowners give this a second thought when they shop for floor coverings, but more and more Americans are considering greener options for their personal space. Instead of the typical wall-to-wall carpeting or area rugs, one of the more exciting trends in home interiors is Tatami mats.
Never heard of Tatami mats? You’re not alone. Unless you are someone who visits Japan regularly or who has studied Zen design; you may think that Tatami mats are something used by martial arts practitioners. The truth is, they are part of a longstanding Japanese tradition that dates back to the Edo period. Never known as a culture that does things halfheartedly, the Japanese have instilled every facet of home decorating with symbolic meaning. Such is the case with the art of Feng Shui. But with Tatami mats, the arrangements of these organic mats is done in a way that reflects the nature of the occasion. So steeped in tradition are these layouts that they actually have a name. A T-shaped arrangement is called an “auspicious” tatami arrangement and another grid-like pattern is called “inauspicious.”
What are modern-day Tatami mats used for?
In Japan, it is uncommon to see anyone wearing shoes after then walk through the front door. As a result, a soft padded floor covering is a necessity. Not only are Tatami mats made of all-natural materials such as rush grass and straw, they are 100% organic and hypoallergenic. The Japanese are known to keep their Tatami mats immaculately clean, and pay close attention to the way they are arranged.
According to Japanese folklore, an inauspicious layout of Tatami mats is likely to bring bad fortune. In other words, these mats are not to cover the floor from wall to wall. Most homeowners and interior decorators will use the T-shaped, or auspicious layout when using Tatami mats in a room. Never are the corners of all four mats supposed to touch.
So influenced are they by Western culture that very few of the homes built in Japan today include a Tatami-floored room, Interestingly, the trend is catching on faster in America than it is in Japan, but some traditionalists will still keep one room decorated this way. Find out more about decorating with Tatami mats by visiting Chopa.com.