Wabi-Sabi: the art of imperfection in decoration

What is wabi-sabi decor?

There is beauty even in imperfections, and that is what wabi-sabi means. The concept of wabi-sabi has its roots in ancient Japanese traditions. It embodies the true spirit of Japanese design, lifestyle, philosophy, art, culture and personal feelings all rolled into one.

If you visit Japan, you will notice that the people and the culture appreciate the innate beauty of animate and inanimate objects – from broken dishes to molded furniture, from misty landscapes to distorted reflections of nature on water.

In this regard, the idea of ​​wabi-sabi involves understanding that everything on this planet, whether living or not, ages gracefully, and becomes more beautiful as it breaks, fades or scars. . It’s about understanding that old and worn things have their own elegant charm.

Origin of wabi-sabi

While wabi-sabi is a Japanese philosophy, it comes from traditional Chinese Zen Buddhist culture. Some may even trace the origin of its story to a 16th-century Japanese legend involving Sen no Rikyu, the monk who was instrumental in theorizing tea ceremonies.

According to legend, the monk wanted to learn the ancient art of tea ceremonies, and to do this, his teammate also asked him to take care of the garden. Just before presenting his work to his master, Rikyu shook a cherry tree in the garden, so that its sakura blossoms fell to adorn the ground – and this imperfection of the fallen blossoms brought so much beauty to his surroundings, that it gave rise to the wabi-sabi concept.

The symbol “enso” is used to illustrate this concept, which consists of an unfinished circle created as part of an infinite stroke or motion, usually done in black ink.

The 5 main elements/concepts of wabi-sabi:

In addition to creating pretty corners, houseplants offer many benefits. Here is an overview of the 5 main advantages:

1. Aesthetics

As a Japanese aesthetic, wabi-sabi has a strong influence on modern life as it represents the beauty that lies in humility, austerity, and the transience of life. The Wabi Shabi decoration is close to the Japanese Zen decoration.

2. Imperfect

According to the Buddhist idea of ​​Dukkha, life is fundamentally painful and unsatisfying. The wabi-sabi symbol also depicts life as rusty and lonely. In this context, the idea behind adopting wabi-sabi is to accept the imperfections of the things around us.

Objects made according to the wabi-sabi aesthetic are therefore asymmetrical and full of imperfections. Feel free to use asymmetrical furniture or items that don’t match in your home.

3. Worldview

Wabi-sabi adopts the idea that things are imperfect, that nothing is permanent, and it is with this idea that one should ideally see the world.

4. Transient

The presence of green leaves in your home is enough to energize its overall aesthetic. Try keeping plants on your windowsill, or add some greenery to your balcony by adding small houseplants like a rubber tree, prayer plant, fiddle leaf fig, ficus, or hoya. Indoor trees and plants add to the overall floral landscape and give your home a beautiful and welcoming vibe.

5. Refined

Although wabi-sabi is born out of imperfections, this aesthetic is not easy to master. It’s not that anything with imperfections can be considered wabi-sabi; the term is used very sparingly to describe objects that exude the highest ideal of beauty – in other words, something that can be seen as both pleasing and imperfect.

12 wabi-sabi decorating tips:

1. Set Your Decor Intentionally

The wabi-sabi aesthetic finds reverence in a simple sense of beauty, and according to experts like Marie Kondo, it is this philosophy that must be translated into the aesthetics of the home or interior design.

When embracing this aesthetic, it’s important to choose specific interior design elements, depending on how you want to live your life.

2. Add personal touches

If you want the wabi-sabi aesthetic to define your home decor and design style, instead of adding shiny new decor elements to create a modern home, opt for a design aesthetic that involves decor elements. personal.

For example, a work of art made by a child, a vase or a remarkable work of art, etc.

3. Go natural

One of the main elements of a wabi-sabi house is the asymmetry, privacy and simplicity of the design. Incorporate minimalism by using real, natural objects – these can include indoor plants and furniture made from natural, raw materials.

4. Tidy up your bed – your way!

Wabi-sabi is an easy idea to incorporate into one’s lifestyle. A good example is being disciplined with daily tasks such as making your bed. Instead of focusing on creating a tidy, spotless, and perfect bedroom, the wabi-sabi style encourages accepting an imperfectly made bed.

5. Keep things cozy

According to wabi-sabi interior design, your home is your safe space and should be created in a warm, comfortable and comforting way. Without cluttering or adding clutter to your interiors, the idea is to make your home feel lived in.

For example, if you want to incorporate the wabi-sabi philosophy into your living room, add blankets and pillows to create a warm feeling.

6. Use washed laundry

Linen is a beautiful fabric that adds richness to its surroundings. In keeping with Japanese tradition, use washed linens as a table runner, bed cover, or even a pillow or cushion cover.

This helps to create a warm and cozy space, similar to the feel of a home that has been “lived in”. The linens give a very relaxed and natural look to the overall aesthetic.

7. Romance in your daily tasks

If you want to go deeper into the wabi-sabi ethos of your home, start making the most mundane daily tasks romantic.

For example, find joy and beauty in making your morning cup of tea or coffee, or even reading a book, curled up in a corner of your living room at a certain time each day. Even if these tasks are routine, the idea is to make them memorable.

8. Stimulate your senses

The house is an ideal place to awaken the senses and stimulate them. Here are some ways to appeal to your senses

Touch – use natural materials and fabrics like sheepskin or woolen textiles on your furniture.
Smell – burn incense.
Hearing – read poems or books aloud, use meditative music or nature sounds that permeate your home.
See – use art or create works of art.

9. Incorporate home decor items that age well

They say the best things in life get better with age, whether it’s wine, whiskey or antiques. When it comes to incorporating wabi inspirations, the idea is to decorate your home with items that tend to improve over time, or age gracefully.

There are many home decor pieces that stand the test of time and style and look great regardless of their surroundings or patina. This could be, for example, beautifully carved wooden kitchen utensils or a work of art that becomes the focal point of your interior space.

10. Use broken or “rough” objects

Did you break a coffee cup or a plate? Do not worry. Use the Japanese art of kintsugi to put the pieces together, then paint the cracked lines with gold.

As for raw objects, use unglazed pottery instead of modern ceramics, in the form of planters or bowls, or use olive jars with broken handles. You can even use unpolished copper or brass materials, to give your home a nice rustic feel.

11. Practice sustainability, reuse and recycling

You have no doubt understood that furnishing your home in the wabi-sabi way is also a step towards sustainability. From reusing broken objects to accepting stains, chips and cuts on objects, the wabi-sabi way of life is based on the concept of less and more.

Try reusing items from your home (instead of just recycling). For example, a glass jar containing pickles or olives can be repurposed as a flower vase.

12. Color scheme

Finally, this design tip is about the overall look of your home. When incorporating wabi-sabi, opt for earthy tones and colors, rather than bright, vibrant colors. Choose colors like beiges, creams, browns and muted greens to give your home a more natural and earthy look. Feel free to use textures and accents on the walls that give an outdoor feel.

Embrace imperfection with the Wabi-Sabi interior design style

Imagine how nice it would be to show someone around your perfectly imperfect home? If you feel like incorporating wabi-sabi into your daily life, start with these home decor ideas. What’s interesting about wabi-sabi is that the concept is akin to the Scandinavian art of hygge decor, which emphasizes minimalism and finding happiness in the simple things in life.


1. How can I practice wabi-sabi?

To coordinate the exterior of your home, choose primary and secondary colors. Try to stick to the color scheme used by the entire neighborhood, as well as color-match your doors, window treatments, and shutters to achieve some consistency.

2. Why is wabi-sabi important?

In general, the general rule is to use 3 colors. While many homeowners tend to opt for neutral or monochromatic hues, if you’re looking for something quirky and different, you can choose the right combination with three colors on the color wheel.

3. How can I be Japandi?

Ranch colors range from neutral tones of browns and grays to greens and beiges. Many ranch homes also have natural stone facades, while their front doors, roofs, garages, etc. fall under a maroon color scheme.

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