6 Ways to Wabi-Sabi Your Home and Embrace Imperfection
January 19, 2018
Move over, Hygge: There’s a new foreign design trend that’s about to take over our homes in 2018. Enter: Wabi-sabi. While it doesn’t exactly translate directly into English, it is otherwise known as the Japanese art of embracing the “perfectly imperfect.” According to the book Wabi Sabi Welcome by Julie Pointer Sanders, it’s “learning to embrace the imperfect and entertain with thoughtfulness and ease.” Unlike Hygge, it doesn’t require perfectly placed oversized blankets by the fireplace, but is more like one of those “bless this mess” signs taken seriously.
“There’s no right or wrong to creating a wabi-sabi home,” Robyn Griggs Lawrence writes. “It can be as simple as using an old bowl as a receptacle for the day’s mail, letting the paint on an old chair chip, or encouraging the garden to go to seed. Whatever it is, it can’t be bought. Wabi-sabi is a state of mind, a way of being. It’s the subtle art of being at peace with yourself and your surroundings.”
Why are we just now catching on? “2018 is all about more mindful design,” the team from Consort Design tells us. “People are really starting to consider how their spaces can make them feel better on a daily basis, and wabi-sabi is all about living with only what is necessary. Ditch the extraneous and focus on only collecting the chicest essentials.”
Keep reading for more tips on how to wabi-sabi your home this year.
Bring in the naturals
As we all know, the best things from nature don’t always appear perfect (case in point: those really ugly yet delicious sweet potatoes from the farmer’s market). At its core, wabi-sabi is about highlighting materials in their natural state and implementing nature’s finest into your furnishings, accessories, and even the windows and walls. Materials like wood, stone and metal take precedence over any sort of shiny plastic.
Opt for simplicity
Wabi sabi is pretty much the exact opposite of the sleek, Swedish designs that have become popularized in recent years (sorry, Ikea). Instead, it celebrates handmade items that carry actual meaning. Something special you found at a thrift shop or in an antique’s store is more important than the shiniest or flashiest item you can order online. “Broadly, wabi-sabi is everything that today’s sleek, mass-produced, technology-saturated culture isn’t,” writes Griggs Lawrence. “It’s flea markets, not shopping malls; aged wood, not swank floor coverings; one single morning glory, not a dozen red roses.”
In keeping with the natural theme, wabi-sabi embraces earth tones instead of bold, bright colors. It incorporates greens, grays, browns, and rust-colored paints, furnishings, and accessories. Basically, if you would find it in the forest, it fits with the wabi-sabi theme.
Out with the new, in with the old
Since wabi-sabi isn’t about being shiny or perfect, it’s a great opportunity to repurpose items you may think of as broken or obsolete. If something has mismatched knobs or a small chip, it’s okay—it’s more about loving it for what it is, and what it’s meant to you.
Decorate the wabi sabi way by mixing in odd-numbered accessories, ideally of the handmade pottery variety. You can also layer your linens (without ironing them first) to give your home a more purposefully wrinkled feel—and to give yourself more to cuddle up with.
“No matter your personal style, there is one key factor to nailing this trend for your home design: find the beauty in the not-so-perfect,” Isom Johnson tells Elle Decor. “Think tables or cutting boards with burn marks or ceramics that have not been perfectly thrown. Accepting the idea that your home does not have to be showroom-ready is all it takes. Keep it real, be authentic, and be happy that for once you don’t have to make your bed to be cool.” Not making the bed in the name of design? Sold.