7 zen room ideas: Emotional escape rooms for every personality type

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A woman performs yoga on the floor, putting her own spin on a popular zen room idea.
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A growing number of Americans are warming up to the idea of mindfulness and zen-influenced practices. In fact, between 2012 and 2017, meditation more than tripled in use in the U.S. Having a dedicated room where you can escape negative emotions can make it easier to implement soothing practices on a daily basis. However, not everyone responds well to the same decor and practices, so tailoring your zen room style to your personality will help you get more of the benefits. Explore our zen room ideas for inspiration on designing your own, and follow some expert tips for how to outfit your own emotional escape room. 

What is a zen room?

A diagram outlines the five interior design elements that can be applied across different zen room ideas.
A zen room is a space where you can isolate yourself from the distractions or negative emotional triggers of the outside world. Traditionally, zen rooms are used for meditation, and having a dedicated area makes it easier to incorporate this practice into day-to-day life. Today, the concept of zen rooms is taking on many forms. People mix zen-like tenets with the activities that bring them the most peace, but the purpose is still the same — to destress and introduce greater feelings of relaxation.   

What is needed for a zen room?

Since the overarching goal of a zen room is to encourage peacefulness, minimizing distractions is a recurring theme. That still leaves plenty of room for personalization, which is partially responsible for zen rooms' growing popularity. Common traits of zen rooms include:

Cool tones

Cool colors and earth tones can increase feelings of serenity. Surrounding yourself with shades of blue, green or purple will aid you in your pursuit of peace. Conversely, using sharply contrasting colors, like blue and yellow, can have a stimulating effect and act as a barrier to getting into the right mental state.   According to experts like Rick Berres, owner of the home remodeling company Honey-Doer, “Achieving a peaceful space starts with your use of color. You can’t achieve serenity, zen, and peaceful mindfulness in a violent red room, right? So you need to think about what brings about that sense of calm for you. For most people, that’s either bright white, or a pastel shade of blue or lavender. Think blue skies or spring flowers.”

Minimalism

Leaving distractions at the door is an important step toward relaxation. With this in mind, keep things simple when designing your zen room. Avoid decorating the space with too many trinkets or pictures. Prioritize only having items in the room that will nurture your mental well-being.

Negative space

Negative space is an area that is not being occupied by an object. It is an important design element to apply when pursuing minimalist ends. Properly implementing negative space will keep the room from feeling either too cluttered or too bare.  

Plants

Spending time in nature is linked to reducing negative feelings like stress while increasing positive ones. Bringing natural elements like plants into your zen room can be a great way to bring out those positive emotions. 

Scents

Aromatherapy can be used to induce relaxation. This can take the form of incense, candles or essential oil diffusers. Stay away from scents that are very strong — especially if you are in a small space — as they can get irritating over prolonged periods.According to Lily Wili, CEO of Ever Wallpaper, “Scents such as lavender and jasmine are ideal for creating a calm environment. You’ll instantly get a feeling of peacefulness when you enter a room that smells and looks good. Additionally, it’ll help you focus as you prepare to meditate and let go of negative emotions.”

7 zen rooms for every personality

A chart identifies which zen room ideas best fit certain personalities.
The type of zen meditation room that is right for you is heavily dependent on your personality. Here we’ve constructed four types of personalities, informed by the Myers-Briggs personality test, to help you determine which zen room is right for you. 
  • Strategists (INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, ENTP): If you have an analytical mindset and prefer working independently, then this could be you. Strategists tend to be introverts who value logic and order. They have high expectations and often pursue perfection.
  • Creatives (INFJ, INFP, ENFJ, ENFP): If you are an enthusiastic soul with a passion for the arts, then you might be a creative. These personality types are idealistic and charitable. They are tirelessly optimistic and often make inspiring leaders.
  • Practical dwellers (ISTJ, ISFJ, ESTJ, ESFJ): Practical dwellers like to keep facts at the forefront of their minds. They are incredibly caring and like to use their skills to protect their loved ones. They make effective managers and are very reliable.
  • Free spirits (ISTP, ISFP, ESTP, ESFP): Free spirits mix creativity with practical goals. They’re tinkerers and explorers. Plans often get pushed to the wayside in favor of spontaneous ideas.

1. Meditation room 

A mood board breaks down how to style a meditation room, one of the most popular zen room ideas.
Great for: Strategists A meditation room is the classic zen room. Its primary purpose is to center oneself to increase mental peace. A dedicated meditation room can even have physical benefits, like reducing the wake time of insomniacs by 50%Strive to keep distractions to an absolute minimum. Objects that don’t directly aid your focus should be left in other areas of your home. If possible, select a room that gets plenty of natural light. A sheer fabric can be used as a window shade to diffuse intense light. Since meditation rooms do not require many objects or a large area, sometimes it isn’t necessary to use an entire room. You can design a meditation corner that takes up minimal space while still providing peacefulness. “Regardless of how devoted you are to mindful meditation, the space that is created for sitting (zazen) is important,” says Anne-Marie Emanuelli, creative director of Mindful Frontiers, a mindful meditation coach. “Whether it is a corner in the bedroom with just a pillow and mat or a separate room in the house with an altar, music, incense, and lots of pillows, feeling comfortable in the space will become the container of your meditation practice. It will be where you want to go for a few minutes or hours of calm and mental space.”Meditation room essentials:
  • Zen decor: Incense or scented candles, tranquil instrumental music, a rug and meditation cushion 
  • Texture: Wood and stone
  • Color palette: White or pastel gray 

2. Music room

A man and his son play guitar in their music room, one of the most popular zen room ideas.
Great for: Creatives and free spiritsMusic can give a profound boost to your mood and reduce anxiety, helping you manage stress and even cope with physical pain. If music is a constant in your life, harnessing it in your zen room can have lasting benefits for you. Bring your music collection or instrument into the room — whether you already play one or want to learn. Having a private space to express yourself, free from scrutiny, could not be more important. This is one zen room idea where it is fine to bring in extra knickknacks if they bring you joy. A poster from a concert you went to or your favorite band’s merch is all fair game. It’s all about surrounding yourself with things that elicit positive emotional feelings.  Music room essentials:
  • Zen decor: Sound system, records/CDs, instruments, rugs or carpet 
  • Texture: Vinyl 
  • Color palette: Tan or black and white

3. Reading room 

Great for: Creatives and strategistsThe principles behind a reading room are very similar to a music room. Surrounding yourself with books that you are fond of or look forward to reading can bring out comforting feelings similar to a favorite album. Reading can bring down your cortisol levels — a hormone related to stress. The number of books you keep in the room is limited only by the available space. Keep your books organized to avoid feelings of claustrophobia and disarray. If the room is in order, your mind will be less likely to wander from the words on the page. Try sorting books by size or color to discover which produces more calming decor. Get a comfortable chair or couch that you can spend hours in. Reading room essentials:
  • Zen decor: Bookshelves, heavy blankets, parquet flooring
  • Texture: Wood and leather
  • Color palette: Brown

4. Hobby room

A workbench and a shelf full of bins fill the space of a hobby room, one of the most popular zen room ideas.
Great for: Free spirits and practical dwellersSometimes the best way to find inner peace is through actively doing what you enjoy. People who do things they enjoy benefit from lower blood pressure and better moodsDedicating a spiritual room to your hobbies can help pair the two and lead to constructive mental and physical growth. Your hobby room can incorporate woodworking, painting or puzzling — basically anything you want.Adorn your walls with the tools you use. Display completed projects that you’re proud of. Even enjoyable hobbies can lead to stress when things aren’t going right. By decorating with reminders of past successes, you can recenter yourself more easily and get the rewards of a zen room.  The greatest hindrance to  a hobby room is clutter. Cleaning the space after every session will help you get into a flow more quickly each day.  Hobby room essentials:
  • Zen decor: Tools or equipment, countertop space and storage bins
  • Texture: Wood
  • Color palette: Tan

5. Green room

A mood board outlines how to style a green room, one of the most popular zen room ideas.
Great for: Practical dwellersWhile most zen styles incorporate natural elements, green rooms take it to the extreme. Cover your floors and walls with plants to fill the space with green leaves and the colors of blooming flowers. Incorporate furniture that’s practical but doesn’t overwhelm the space. Chairs and couches with low backs can make room for plants to hang low and envelop you in a forest of your creation. The aesthetic quality of the plants is only part of the appeal of this room. The act of caring for the plants day to day is where you will find even more benefits.Surrounding yourself with houseplants can help clean the air in the room and promote physical healing. If you find it difficult to meditate because your mind is distracted by stressors, watering and pruning each plant can give you something to focus on. Green room essentials:
  • Zen decor: Potted plants, hangers, small furniture
  • Texture: Wood and bamboo
  • Color palette: White

6. Yoga room 

A yoga mat and mirror fill the space of a yoga room, one of the most popular zen room ideas.
Great for: Creatives and free spiritsThe meditative nature of yoga makes it easily integrate with the concept of a zen area. While yoga can lower stress levels, it also can improve your physical health overall. The zen decor of a yoga room can be similar to a meditation room, as it also uses minimalist zen interior design elements. Since you won’t want many objects hindering your movements, optimize negative space in the room. Keep objects tight against the wall so that you’ll have free range of motion.Mirrors can be helpful when working on your form, but they can be a distraction when trying to focus. Having the option to draw curtains over the mirrors can increase the functionality of the room as a whole.   “For yoga or somatic therapy, anything that requires movement, keeping furniture to a minimum and allowing open space to practice is key,” says Eva Prettyman, principal designer of Lincoln Home and Design, a home design firm. “Incorporating artwork that encourages the state of mind you are hoping to reach, or that have symbols that are wellness-related, can be helpful.”Yoga room essentials:
  • Zen decor: Resin or laminate flooring, incense, a mirror and relevant artwork
  • Texture: Stone 
  • Color palette: Blue

7. Weight room

Workout equipment fills the space of a weight room, one of the most popular zen room ideas.
Great for: Strategists and practical dwellersA strenuous activity like weight lifting may seem like the opposite of “zen” to some people, but it’s all about your mindset. Exercise can release endorphins that make you feel good and help you let go of the day’s irritations. Workout rooms help you find your zen by serving as an emotional escape room. Leave daily worries at the door and focus solely on reaching new personal bests. The regimented structure of workout routines can bring order to the chaotic structures of daily life.  It’s important to find a balance between the cold practicality of normal weight rooms and the coziness of a zen room. Keep weights and workout accessories well organized to prevent chaos from spilling in. Use ambient sounds like trickling water to drown out distracting noise. Weight room essentials:
  • Zen decor: Resin or laminate flooring, mini fountain and a mirror
  • Texture: Metal
  • Color palette: Gray
Incorporating elements of zen into your daily life can have a profound impact on your mental health. If one of these zen room ideas seems like a good fit for your lifestyle, experiment with our suggested design styles. You may like it so much that you implement it in your second home too. 

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