“Wabi-sabi” is a Japanese term that essentially means finding beauty in imperfection. Wabi refers to living with humility and simplicity while being at one with nature, while sabi is defined as the ability to accept the lifecycle of anything as it is—flaws and all.
In the context of interior design and decor, a wabi-sabi home is one that embraces authenticity, finds value in the lovingly weathered and lived-in, and promotes an overall sense of peace and tranquility using simplicity. Rather than always adding the latest shiny new thing or obsessing over making every detail perfect, adopters of wabi-sabi interiors find harmony in authenticity and imperfection. Such an approach might well be the antidote you’ve been looking for in our chaotic, perfection-obsessed world.
Of course, abstract ideas such as wabi-sabi aren’t always the easiest to apply, so here are a few basic tips and tricks that will help give your home the cozy, feel-good vibes we all crave.
1 of 5
Incorporate the Artisanal and Homemade
The Spruce / Leticia AlmeidaWabi-sabi is all about embracing and celebrating authenticity wherever it can be found, and there’s nothing more authentic than homemade decor and artisanal accents. A vase you found on a cherished vacation, fabric art you made yourself, or ceramics from a local market are all homespun elements that’ll enhance the warm, authentic feeling of your space—one of wabi-sabi’s most important characteristics.
02 of 05
Clear Your Clutter
The Spruce / Leticia AlmeidaJust because a wabi-sabi approach is one that values imperfection doesn’t mean it tolerates clutter-filled chaos. A wabi-sabi home should be clutter-free and highly organized in order to inspire feelings of peace and tranquility, but not obsessively so. If you subscribe to a minimal aesthetic, you’re already halfway there—but only halfway. Remember, it’s not about simplicity for simplicity’s sake; it’s more about having a sense of order to invite a sense of calm into your home.
03 of 05Bring the Outdoors Inside
The Spruce / Leticia AlmeidaOrganic materials and elements from nature are major components of a wabi-sabi home, due to the universally good vibes they bring. In addition, the natural impurities found in plants, wood, and stone are great daily reminders of the beauty that can be found in imperfection. To maximize these good vibes, integrate wooden furniture, fresh flowers, and as many plants as your heart desires. And if your thumb is less than green, then incorporate a few succulents that’ll bring you all of the benefits of natural plants without the maintenance.
04 of 05
Celebrate Mismatched Decor
The Spruce / Leticia AlmeidaNot everything needs to be matchy-matchy and ultra-cohesive all the time. In fact, too much matching can seriously diminish the character and welcoming atmosphere of a home, not to mention its heart. Now, we’re not telling you to purposely pair unlike things together, but rather to be okay with adding something you love to your home, even if it is not be a perfect fit aesthetically. When it comes to wabi-sabi, that imperfection is, well, perfect.
05 of 05Get Back to the Basics
The Spruce / Leticia Almeida
A wabi-sabi sensibility is one that keeps possessions to a minimum by inviting only those things that bring nostalgia, beauty, utility, or a combination of all there into the home. Again, this trend doesn't use minimalism for minimalism’s sake, but instead aims only to keep things that are essential to a calm and happy spirit, an approach that maximizes the joy of everyday living. Unlike a zealous minimalist who might get rid of a vase they like but which doesn’t fit their aesthetic, a wabi-sabi subscriber will keep that vase just because it makes ‘em happy.