The buzzword ‘self-interior’ (셀프 인테리어) has flooded the Korean online blogging community as well as other media platforms. While most Koreans used to settle down in cookie cutter apartments, nowadays people are taking their space into their own hands with DIY homestyling. There are many reasons why this trend is likely to stay.

Rising House Prices & Real Estate
The price of owning a home in Seoul is constantly rising – and probably won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Even renting can be a financial burden as a huge deposit (known as key money) must be made at the beginning of the lease. This leaves young professionals and newly weds settling for older or smaller apartments. So, in order to make the best of these homes, changes have to be made.

Transformative ‘before and after’ images of homes go viral online and renovation TV shows known as ‘Jibbang’ (집방), which literally means ‘house-broadcast’ dedicate the hour to refurbishing old homes at a tight budget. With sky high apartment prices, no wonder home-owners want to save as much as they can on the decor.

Freedom & Creative Expression
Being alone has never been more fashionable. From ‘honbab’ (eating alone) to ‘honyeoheng’ (travelling alone), living solo is the ultimate freedom and independence. With single households rising, more people want to reject conformism and have their home a true reflection of their own personality and style.

Creative self-taught amateurs are taking their interior into their own hands, and choosing a 100% original design to express themselves. Afterall, Korean consumers love to invest in looking good, why wouldn’t they want to work on their homes too?

Inspiration Overload
Korean millennials are super internet savvy and eager media consumers. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Naver blogs, internet posts and various home styling shows, are inspiring and giving hope to the masses.

Hashtag ‘bangstagram’ (#방스타그램), which literally means ‘room-stagram’, showcases fantastic and unique photos of real people’s homes. By becoming aware of this trend and observing so many DIY successes, viewers are more likely to take part.

Naver blogs and Youtube channels are brimming with easy to follow instructions and cool designs, so DIY is simple yet hugely satisfactory. Once the project is finished and broadcast on social media channels, it fuels the cycle again by inspiring others.

Access To Cheap & Stylish Goods
Instead of hiring a professional interior designer (which can costs millions of won) to renovate your space, you can give your own home a makeover by making non-permanent micro-changes with decorative accessories.

Houseware mega stores, such as ‘Butter’, offer interior design tools and accessories at popular shopping hotspots. While they may not sell furniture, they do supply goods such as rugs and cushions, as well as wall and tile stickers that can instantly change a home from drab to fab.

In fact, plenty of online stores offer high quality, low prices and huge variety. As these materials are easily accessible and come in a range of styles, DIY is becoming easier than ever.

The practical desire for good looking yet original interior, partnered with the numerous benefits of doing-it-yourself, this naturally created the ‘self-interior’ movement. Although it may seem like a challenge, the results are worth it, so what are you waiting for?

10 Comments

  1. February 6, 2017 at 8:00 pm — Reply

    Interesting read! I’m going to check out that hashtag. Always wonder what these apartments look like on the inside. Great to hear that things are changing with regards to their interior design as well as people being ok with doing things alone and doing things differently ! Very liberating.

  2. February 9, 2017 at 4:00 am — Reply

    I used to love Butter!! We always struggled finding inexpensive interior decor. As a matter of fact we found it impossible our first year in Korea, if you wanted anything remotely modern it was triple the price of the pink one with Pororo on it. It was always difficult because we knew that our apartment in Seoul was going to be temporary so we couldn’t justify putting alot of money into making the place contemporary and cute. Ikea opened up part way through our last year which is a great way to get affordable and stylish furnishings but even then our coworkers told us the prices seemed more pricey than back home. We ended up getting alot of our furniture from our neighbors and old teachers leaving on craigslist. We would love to see this change and it would be a great surprise if we ever do move back to Seoul!

  3. February 9, 2017 at 9:28 am — Reply

    I love all of the books in the picture of this post! Once I have a permenant place to stay, I totally want to get into interior decorating! I love the simplistic looks and natural light.

  4. February 9, 2017 at 12:20 pm — Reply

    I had no idea about this whole “hon…” trend going on, but it’s totally refreshing and much needed. In the past, I have often thought of Koreans as the Borg…there’s so much conformism. My dad, at 75, still goes with the crowd and orders whatever everyone else is having, even if he wants something else. Will have to check out “Butter” myself!! 🙂

  5. February 11, 2017 at 1:46 pm — Reply

    My apartment this year is the nicest I’ve had in Korea, so I’ve put a little more effort into making it a home. I totally get the urge to make the most of what you’ve got, and it’s always fun to have a comfy pad to host people in. I love seeing the ‘solo culture’ boom in Korea, especially the 혼밥 culture. Makes it more socially acceptable to go by myself to a 삼겹살 joint!

  6. February 11, 2017 at 9:38 pm — Reply

    I haven’t been inside many Korean homes so this was an interesting read!! Definitely going to check out that hashtag and get some ideas of my own!!

  7. Rocio Cadena
    February 13, 2017 at 9:27 am — Reply

    I’m happy to hear Koreans are starting to make homes their own rather than go with the standard look of apartments. I’ve been in my space for a year now and since I plan to be here for one more, it was truly important to me to invest and make it my space. I bought a table and a few other things such as white Christmas lights and lamps for warmer lighting as I find fluorescent light incredibly uninviting. I’m glad Koreans are starting to move in that direction but it obviously wouldn’t be Korea if they didn’t make a trend out of it haha

  8. February 13, 2017 at 11:04 am — Reply

    I’m glad it’s becoming easier to decorate Korean apartments. When I first moved here, I realized the walls were all cement which meant I wasn’t going to even deal with hanging shelves or pictures and the Korean furniture brands were oh so expensive. It’s gotten much easier to add some chic decor vibes on a budget. Glad Koreans are getting into this because I’ve been to oh so many apartments that I thought.. well, were a mishmash of whats-its and didn’t match the people that lived there. Just one more way to be comfortable in your own skin I think.

  9. February 13, 2017 at 12:19 pm — Reply

    One of my students told me that she wanted to be an interior designer recently and was telling me all of her favourite Korean homeware stores! I found it difficult to make my place feel like my own in my first year because I had hideous green floral wallpaper lol. Plus, I had terrible lighting so it never felt very homely. Can’t wait to check out that hashtag!

  10. February 14, 2017 at 12:05 am — Reply

    OMG I am so excited to hear DIY-decor is on the trend here in Korea. Since moving to Korea, I’ve been wanting to redecorate with my personal style, but it’s been super hard to find websites or stores to shop at. I’m going to be scouring the internet with these new hashtags for decor insp.

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