Translated from Japanese, Wabi Sabi is 'a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete… a beauty of things modest and humble… a beauty of things unconventional."
“Beautifully imperfect” – hurrah! A design trend that we can all do, without much effort. Feel free to use the term elsewhere too… I’ve told my husband I’m totally Wabi-sabi – beautifully imperfect!
So, what does Wabi-Sabi actually translate to in terms of your home furnishings?
Wabi-Sabi is both tangible and a mindset
The great thing about this design concept is that it is more of a mindset that embraces the ‘less than perfect’ – which means it can be used across all types of home styles, from industrial to Hamptons.
Things considered Wabi-Sabi often appear odd, misshapen, lived in, imperfect or aged. Handcrafted furniture and objects that get better with age are spot on. Think well-worn leather lounges, cracked or chipped porcelain bowls, old hard cover books, vintage timber dining tables and frayed rattan baskets.
Interior designers refer to practicing Wabi-Sabi and focus on preserving the authentic and restoring or rejuvenating whilst keeping the life and soul of the item or home.
The Japanese philosophy that finds beauty in flaws provides an opportunity to expose rather than hide. Interior Stylist, Alison Gibb, applied the concept when the concrete hearth in her home in Scotland cracked a year after it was installed, so she fixed it herself with Araldite and in the tradition of Wabi-Sabi, she decorated the visible mends with gold leaf.
This is a great example of the design concept where the item is both beautiful and have a story that can be told forever.
Wabi-Sabi is not shabby chic
Not to be confused with shabby chic, Wabi-Sabi is also a mindset. The concept focuses on minimalism and authenticity. Items are essentially modest, earthy and rooms are uncluttered. Neutral colours and textures like linen create a calm environment. Use natural materials such as wood and stone where possible, which connect with the Wabi-Sabi appreciation of nature.
Space and light are the most desirable elements in a Wabi-Sabi, but this is not to say it has to be minimalistic or free of all objects or ornaments. Items that have emotional value, quality and made to last, can be rotated rather than given away and used seasonally.
How to create your own Wabi-Sabi interior
- Choose bespoke handmade pieces over factory made home décor.
- Use raw materials like timber, porcelain, linen, concrete, brick, stone etc
- Use a neutral and earthy colour palette
- Practice a sustainable approach by rejuvenating old furniture and items and minimising waste
- Rotate special feature items seasonally
- Use space and light to the maximum and avoid clutter
- Don’t hide imperfections – feature indentations and markings to create a story
- Remember: Broken is beautiful
- Don’t be afraid to mix the old with the new – reality is we all have new items that we’ve purchased. If you have a shiny new glass coffee table, adorn it with old relics and vintage or bespoke accessories.