Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen Scandinavian lifestyle concepts lagom and hygge being translated into the world of interiors, and now, there is yet another philosophy that’s been hitting the design trend radar and urging us to rethink the way we decorate our homes – Wabi-sabi.
In the Western world obsessed with symmetry, perfection and novelty, the Japanese philosophy Wabi-sabi teaches us to take pleasure in the imperfect, impermanent and worn off. Offering an antidote to a throw-away society, Wabi-sabi takes pleasure in the rustic, slightly broken and modest.
Do you constantly feel pressured to update your home and keep buying new things only to, before you know it, end up falling out of love with them? Instead of following the latest fashions and pursuing what appears to be trendy at the time, Wabi-sabi encourages us to show love and gratitude for what we already have. By embracing Wabi-sabi in our homes we are saying No to the mass-produced and disposable while honoring the authentic and individual.
Whether you are a fan of the Japanese aesthetic or not, if these ideals resonate with you take note that Wabi-sabi is not just a way of styling, but a way of life. Yes, it can be manifested in the way we decorate, but there are numerous ways you could go about it to compliment your personal style and your budget.
Image source: Axel Vervoordt
A short guide to Wabi-sabi
Image source: Paula Arcklin
The humbling mindset of Wabi-sabi comes from the ancient Japanese philosophy about making peace with our imperfect, temporary and unheroic nature. Deeply rooted in Buddhism, Wabi-sabi can be traced back to the 16th-century Japanese tea ceremonies. Focused on finding beauty and calm in the handmade, irregular and crooked, these modest tea ceremonies used well-loved utensils and simple rituals as symbols of wisdom and acceptance of the natural flow of life (and decay).
The greatest lesson to take from Wabi-sabi is that peace and satisfaction can be found in humble moments. Changing our perception of the world, Wabi-sabi navigates us through a more meaningful life and experiences.
To create a happy home you don’t need to reach for shiny boxed furniture, but rather learn to appreciate what’s in front you, with all its flaws and signs of wear.
Here are ten simple design principles for creating a Wabi-sabi home.
1. Signs of wear are not to be hidden
Wabi-sabi is about allowing items to age gracefully and then proudly presenting the signs of their loving use. By favouring higher-quality possessions over constantly seeking the new, you will surround yourself with a handful of items that will only look better as time goes by.
However, this doesn’t mean that only what’s bearing the marks of age should be praised. Wabi-sabi finds admiration for all stages of life. If it’s honest and well-made, any piece with character will perfectly fit the Wabi-sabi concept.
2. Opt for honest materials
When selecting materials for your home always think raw, organic and natural. Typical Wabi-sabi choices include wood, concrete, stone, clay, marble, glass, rattan, metal, wool, leather and linen.
Stay away from plastics and mass-produced pieces from the high street as they won’t age well.
Image source: EST Living
3. Choose earthy colour schemes
For colour inspiration, take a look outside. The Wabi-sabi color scheme consists of natural tones, with lots of understated neutrals.
Balance the greys and browns in the backdrop to set the desired warmth for the space, so you can later work in the rest of the neutrals.
4. Make use of organic shapes
Image source: Architectural Digest
Embrace asymmetry and irregular shapes that come with filling your home with natural materials. In the Wabi-sabi environment, rough edges, humble finishes and less than perfect furniture angles are more than welcome.
5. Celebrate imperfections
Image source: Remodelista
Find joy in the playfulness of less than perfect surfaces and pieces. The worn and handmade embody a unique experience and that one of a kind spirit.
Don’t worry about the peeling paint on the wall, wrinkled sheets or traces of use on your dining table. Embrace them for the memories they keep.
6. Make use of the handmade
Wabi-sabi philosophy is built upon authenticity and there is nothing more authentic than a one-of-a-kind, handmade piece. A handcrafted vase with slightly crooked edges, or a lovingly repaired piece of pottery that’s not shying away from showing it’s turbulent past – they all speak the Wabi-sabi language.
7. Go clutter-free
Image source: deVol kitchens
Be ruthless with getting rid of unnecessary clutter. Not only will you feel better with less visual mess in front of your eyes, but this way, you will also allow the things you cherish to stand out.
However, this doesn’t mean you should throw away all of your non-essential possessions. Wabi-sabi is not about minimalism but keeping only what matters to you personally.
8. It’s all about the light and airiness
Invite the outside in. Take time to understand the light in your home and the way it changes throughout the day (and seasons). To create a perfectly imbalanced place in tune with Nature, make sure to embrace and enhance natural light as much as you possibly can.
Open the windows to keep the fresh air pouring in.
9. Keep it simple
Image source: Planete Deco
No fuss. No perfection. Keep things clean and fresh, not ironed and shiny. Don’t overthink it. It should be effortless.
Remember, Wabi-sabi is not a Kinfolk aesthetic. There is no need for such a tight edit. Rough textures, simple styling, humble branches in a glass vase, worn off furniture mixed with a handful of new, quality, honest pieces, natural colour palette and relaxed mood – that’s what Wabi-sabi is all about.
10. Create a space to reflect
The Wabi-sabi home is less about the looks and more about the feelings. Wabi-sabi can’t be bought, nor faked. It’s a reflection of a calm mind and a humble heart. It’s about making peace with both happiness and melancholy.
It’s about the poetry of life.
Feature image: Lonny Mag