Shōji – Shadow and Light

A few years ago, I was working on the computer, the day was sunny and warm and I started wondering what I was doing sitting there, closed between four walls of a room. I turned the page to a travel site questioning what country I would have liked to visit, just in case. The answer came without thinking: Japan. I knew some friends there I could visit, I had never been to Japan, it was a good reason to go. I immediately booked a trip and went to surprise my friends. Finally, got to see and experience everything I had studied in books about the Japanese style, home décor, art, colors, and life.
(click on each picture to see it larger)

At the Nijo-jo Castle – Kyoto

I was intrigued by their uses of shadow and light for aesthetic purposes. In the western world, we are used to closing our homes with metal or wood doors, multiple locks, and security cameras. In japan is sufficient a shōji screen made of washi traditional Japanese paper (I am sure in large cities might be different).

At the tea ceremony house

I sat on a lot of tatamis, an art only Japanese people can do. The beauty of a tatami room comes from the enigma of shadow and the suffused light passing from the garden through a shōji screen. Indirect light is the key element that defines a tatami room whose walls are painted in muted neutral colors that don’t distract from the peaceful feeling created.

Home of a Samurai

Japanese highest aesthetic sense comes from living in nature and emotionally responding to its beauty.
They accept nature as it is, they work with what they have and embrace it. If there is a scarcity of natural light, the Japanese create intimacy in their interiors and mystery in corners. The ceilings are not particularly high to allow a resting place for the heart and have no central lights, only one or two lamps. There is a cosmic emptiness in Japanese homes, the silence of the emptiness is disarming for us westerners used as we are to noises.

Tea Ceremony House

What is the beauty of shadow and light in traditional Japanese homes? Homes in Japan are made of wood, the frequent showers of rain create a need to build large heaves to protect the wood and to keep the rain out. The light, therefore, enters the home horizontally and not from the top, it gets diffused through the shōji screen and shadows become prominent.

The entry to a Samurai House
A private home – Kyoto

Temple in Kyoto

“Beauty arises from our daily life”. I learned so much in the two weeks I was in Japan, their culture was an adjustment for me.

Contributing to the Thursday Door Challenge, organized by Dan Antion has enabled me to go down memory lane and relive those moments. Ciao,
Amazon Author’s Page

Copyright © 2022 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola is an interior-fashion consultant, author of 6 published books, a storyteller, and a blogger of many years. Her books are non-fictional practical ideas to apply in the home, fashion, cooking and travel.
Get a copy of her books here: Amazon and Barnes&Noble


Tackling Life At Tea Time | Valentina Cirasola | Designer and Author

“This year has started so fast and so busy and nothing is coming through” ~ she told me in front of a cup of tea and morsels at Tea Time. I know my friend very well, she skips and jumps from one activity to another, one life mess to another, from one toxic situation to another. She is not happy about some of her friends, her work, some of the things her grown-up kids do and who knows what else. She doesn’t keep her promises, makes appointments, then cancels them, often a few hours before when the other person can’t do anything about it and the worst thing…she doesn’t learn from her mistakes. They say that true friends never hold back when helping one another trying to resolve personal issues. Well, when I have done that, my friends have taken it the wrong way, got offended and even stopped seeing me. This time, at Tea Time, I wanted to lay it out as I felt it.  After all, outside was grey and rainy, inside the tea atmosphere was cozy and conducive to confessions.

(Click on each photo to view it larger).

Tea Time

Tea Time

I can’t help referring to my interior design profession when I give tips on life management. Life to me is exactly like decorating a house, it’s all about rearranging, organizing, editing, refurbishing, prioritizing and spice it up. Giving my friend examples of how to beautify a house, didn’t feel I was preaching to her. I don’t have a perfect life, nobody does, but to get my life to the point it feels comfortable to me, took many years of studying people, eliminating toxic situations and old beliefs, reaching goals and driving my thinking toward positivity.

My suggestion was to view her life as a home decorating. If we don’t clean the house, things keep accumulating, the clutter grows, the mirrors don’t shine, the cabinets are sticky, the bed is not made, the dishes are dirty in the sink, we allow the house to take over our life, we allow the house to confuse us, and at that point we might even feel not to return home anymore. Unfortunately, some people life is just like this description, they don’t even want to be in it. The only thing to do to save a disorderly life is to tackle one problem at a time, just as a decorator would tackle one room at the time.

First, we focus on eliminating all the useless items, then clean the space to make it livable and finally organize it. Once we see a place that breathes again, we feel encouraged to go to the next room and repeat the process. Little by little, the house returns to shine releasing that pleasure of claiming each room as our space that was long denied.
Do you see the analogy of a life that is not satisfying with a disorderly house?

Inspiration by Valentina

Inspiration by Valentina

My friend needs exactly this. She needs to rearrange her thoughts, clean up her beliefs, make plans with a calendar in her hands, eliminate all the people and situations that are longer serving a purpose and pursue whatever strikes her fancy. Those who will want to be in her life will follow, the rest will get lost in the editing process.
At one point during our conversation, I had the feeling she got offended. Next day, she sent me a message saying I am a Goddess. Yeah, right!

Living a satisfying life takes a lot of commitment, structure, and diligence. Ciao,

In my 29th years of design business, I am having more fun than ever, experience eliminates stress and dictates the pace of work. I am evolving in different directions while still helping people realizing their dream spaces in homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. Colors are the main focus of my business today, changing people’s energy and life force just by introducing them to colors they would have never imagined. I am on TV once a month, that is my own TV show produced under my label Valentina Design Universe, bringing fun topics to my audience.
Check out my books on

My latest book is ©The Road To Top Of The World




One Day In October | Valentina Cirasola |Author and Designer

Listen to your life talking! In a warm October day, I was cooped up in my studio working away. The sun was shining low, the autumn warm and soft wind came in the window and yellowish light filled my studio. I could hear the birds singing in my orange tree. I looked up and thought: “What am I doing here?”.

I turned the page on my computer and went on a travel site looking for a reasonable ticket to Japan. As soon as I found it, I called my friend in Japan, not caring what time of the day could have been over there. It was daytime and she was at home. I only asked her if she was going to be at home from this day… to this day. She said yes and asked why? I just told her to wait for me, I was going to visit here. Click, I hung up the phone and as fast as I could count 1-2-3, I was on that plane to Japan.

I knew I had arrived in Osaka, when I looked at signs and nothing was written in English. What now? Leaving  the plane I realized I had not confirmed the dates of my arrival with my friend, I didn’t have her phone number and neither her address with me.  I should have panicked but I didn’t,  there is always a solution to everything. I followed the crowd to the exit and there she was with her husband waiting for me with a beautiful bouquet of roses in her hands. How did she know? Her answer remained impressed in my mind: “When Valentina says she comes, Valentina comes”. In her simple English, it was her way of telling me I am a reliable person and I mean what I say. What a great salutation on my first moment in Japan!!!

All the other days evolved in a great fun, friendship, loving local food, discovering local customs, folklore, full immersion in their traditions, and celebrating every moment.

The highlight of my trip to Japan was Kyoto. I was catapulted in Medieval Japan. It is ancient, traditional, true to the culture, small artisan shops, a respectful silence permeated the town, no noisy modern commercial billboards and blinding city lights, people are on bicycles, kimono shops with amazing fabric designs, traditional food and romantic street red lanterns. It felt just right.
One of the guys friend of my friends made a bond with me. He ate off my bowl and apparently that gesture is done between two people who know each other very well. He did it with me, a stranger and a foreigner, it meant a lifetime friendship bonds us now. I like that.

If your work allows it, free your time, take a vacation, even a small week, your soul and mind will appreciate it. Even the fastest racecar needs to stop at a pit stop. Listen to your life talking!
What surprise this coming October will reserve you? Ciao,

Copyright © 2015 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val FruttaValentina Cirasola is an Italian interior designer in business since 1990. She is passionate about colors and all expressive arts. She is a “colorist”. To her, selecting art means to bring out the best energy of her clients and nourish their soul. She trots the world and loves to write travel notes, from which she draws inspiration to design home interiors of her clients .
She is the author of her book on the subject of colors: ©Red-A Voyage Into Colors available on

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