Keys for Decorating in the Wabi-Sabi Style
Wabi-sabi is a certain way of seeing life, that comes from Japan. With that in mind, it shouldn’t just be viewed as a passing fashion. It should rather be seen as a whole philosophy of life that also covers things such as home decor.
This style descends from the Buddhist Zen philosophy, which is based on the contemplation of the environment and the acceptance of the life cycle of things (and of people). It is summed up in this saying: “Nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect.”
A term of great significance
The term “wabi-sabi” is made up of two words in Japanese. Wabi comes from the word “wa”, which means harmony, peace, tranquility, and balance. Therefore, a wabi person is simple, humble and respects nature.
“Sabi” is related to natural progression, the extinguished brilliance of objects that once shone, the passing of time and rust or deterioration. That’s why this style celebrates the mark that passing years leave (and other external factors) on the things that surround us.
Obviously, it’s not easy to accurately translate the exact meaning of these two words. “Wabi” as well as “sabi” refer to the search for beauty in imperfection and also in nature itself.
Now that you know what the term wabi-sabi means, if you decide to adopt it you won’t be frustrated when you look at those cracks in the walls or the stains on the floor that you see in your home.
Wabi-sabi in the home
The continued use of the home is celebrated by this ‘style’, as well as in rooms where emotions are prominent.
This style, when applied in the home, is different from the majority of decor styles. The idea is to leave out black and white photos of the family. Instead, you hang objects you’ve inherited on the walls, and leave your favorite books out on display.
Really, wabi-sabi decor is simple, modest and above all humble. It’s something that provides a contrast to most current interior decor styles. In most modern styles, everything seems to revolve around show and demonstrating that you are neat and orderly, minimalist or detached.
Keys to achieving a wabi-sabi decor
The first step is to accept that your house is for ‘living in’. So playing with the kids is more important than the mark that their ball makes on the wall or the bike that stands in the hall.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should ‘destroy’ your home. Rather, it means that you should not worry so much about the look of your house. In other words, it’s not the end of the world just because something gets stained or damaged.
If you want to use wabi-sabi decor you will need to focus on organic, hand made materials and textures. With the imperfections that characterize hand crafted items, you will achieve a decor that’s authentic, original and unique.
Only what’s essential and of sentimental value
Finding beauty in the imperfections of this life will help you to simplify things. In that sense, going back to nature is much easier than you might think.
Leave to one side western prejudices (little by little) and enjoy the feel of the rooms in your home. Items and furnishings can’t be clean forever, or look eternally fabulous like they’ve come straight out of an interior design magazine. Wabi-sabi is about accepting this.
We recommend you use the ‘allowed’ color palette, that is to say, raw colors, maroon, grays, bronze, whites and blacks. Why? Because these are more closely related to nature and peaceful environments. These are the same colors that Scandinavian decor styles use.
In fact, there is a combination between both Scandinavian decor and wabi-sabi called Japandi. This can be very attractive and you can adapt it easily to your life style.
You don’t need to fill up the rooms in your house with objects and expensive decor items. Just use what you have stashed away or what you’ve already got – that will be enough. An old, worn photo frame, tools or utensils that belonged to your grandparents, a leather sofa, some copper pot plants, wicker baskets and rustic cushions could be the perfect starting point.
Wabi-sabi decor is not just a decor style, it’s much more than that. The objective is to eliminate what’s unnecessary, keep what’s essential and enjoy it until its life cycle is over.
It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
Schor, J. D. (1984). ‘Wabi-Sabi.’ JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.1984.03350220079040