This is precisely the core concept of the wabi-sabi style. It’s an aesthetic that is derived from finding beauty in imperfection – and not of the manufactured kind.
At its essence, the wabi-sabi interior design style is Japanese ideology that is now being translated into beautiful, serene, and soothing spaces. If you split the two terms and look at their sense separately, you’ll immediately understand the meaning.
Wabi: embracing the simple and humble lifestyle in accordance with nature
Sabi: Accepting the flow of life – along with all its flaws
An overview of Wabi-sabi Interior Design
Basically, wabi-sabi design is all about creating spaces that are authentic, beautifully weathered, and homely. This style promotes the “lived-in” vibe and doesn’t shy away from boasting all the imperfections that a place might have.
The understated and homely look of this style evokes peace and enjoins simplicity. There are also touches of minimalism in this style. While the wabi-sabi interior design is not stark and bare at all, it does shy away from too much clutter.
This style also embraces abstract ideas and is highly creative. It doesn’t aspire for proper cleanliness, which is why it might become a haven for those looking to take a break from the fast-paced perfection-seeking chains of our world.
Basic tricks to incorporate the wabi-sabi style
There’s a lot that goes on when you want to emulate the wabi-sabi interior design in your homes. Here are a few essential tips and tricks before we delve deeper into this style:
Emphasis on everything handmade
Embracing handcraftsmanship is a crucial design element of the wabi-sabi style. Home décor always has a special aura and authenticity. Beautifully handcrafted wall hangings, furniture, and accessories have an incredibly inviting vibe that fits the wabi-sabi style beautifully. Other than that, homespun fabrics, décor items, and other elements can help make your spaces feel cherished and infinitely inviting. Do remember; nothing has to be perfect. That’s the magic of wabi-sabi: that vintage trunk you inherited from your grandma is going to look just as pretty within such space as anything new.
Bridging the distance between indoors & outdoors
Nature is an essential part of the wabi-sabi interior design style. Plants have a natural healing aura. You’ll notice that a room with a planter feels much more pleasing to be in than a room without any plant at all. The green color itself is incredibly healing. Therefore, plants must be features in a wabi-sabi style interior design to elevate its peaceful aura.
There are several ways that you can introduce them within the interior design. From a cluster of small indoor planters on a desk or a window sill to hanging indoor vines and even a single statement planter furnished in a corner can make a massive difference in the ambiance.
Mastering the art of mix-and-match
You know how there are certain rules when designing contemporary interior designs: contrast and complement materials & colors, match this and that, etc. But that all can be overlooked when planning your spaces with the wabi-sabi style. Here, you must get creative with mixing-and-matching.
Instead of deciding what matches what, you can just let your creative side take the reins. That does not mean that you can feature incredibly mismatched objects in these spaces. It just means that you can bring in one or two things that might not have been totally “conventional” in typical interior design styles.
Work with the bare necessities
The wabi-sabi style is the epitome of peace. This is mainly because these spaces are only furnished with the bare essentials. The furniture, the accent pieces, and everything in-between are always kept as minimal as possible. There is nothing extra to create chaos. Everything is kept for utility and comfort. The fusion of function and aesthetics elevate the essentials to a whole new level.
But keeping it real to the concept, these necessities do not have to be sleek or cleanly designed. The idea is to highlight their imperfections beautifully. A broken vase can be used as a centerpiece, a cozy lived-in chair can be used as an accent piece, and an heirloom sofa can be used as a statement object. You must get creative with the bare necessities to achieve the best of this look.
De-clutter with style
The wabi-sabi interior design style may embrace imperfection and abstract ideas, but that does not mean it green lights clutter. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. This style is all about managing every flaw in your space with minimalist flair. You need to keep everything organized and clutter-free to get the best of this style. Simplicity and a sense of order are crucial elements that you must always incorporate in such spaces. Remember: order and organization in all your accessories, furniture, and décor must be emulated without compromising the ability to highlight all the flaws in the space.
Wabi-sabi Furniture Characteristics
The furniture featured in the wabi-sabi interior design style should have a well-loved, homely, and lived-in look. It should also be artisanal or handcrafted. Let’s take a look at some suggestions for wabi-sabi furniture for every primary room in your home:
The Wabi-Sabi Living Room
The sofa fabric should have a rugged and comfortable vibe. Leather is a good option. It ages well and becomes more decadent with use without losing its homely charm. Distressed wood coffee tables, cabinets, and console tables can provide high contrast to such spaces. If you want to use an accent chair, then choose one that is significant, comfy, with a plus fabric. The club chair or wingback style chair is the best choice.
The Wabi-Sabi Bedroom
Choose a bed that is neither too sleek nor too luxurious. Low-height platform beds with raw and distressed wooden bases are a great alternative. It’s best if your bed doesn’t have a headboard or a footboard. Tall 8” or 10” mattresses on such platform beds always elevate the impact of the rugged base. Simple shabby chic nightstands or scandi-modern end tables are also a good investment. Remember to keep things minimal. And if you love something, just bring it in, no matter how mismatched it feels with the rest of the ambiance.
The Wabi-Sabi Kitchen
Since cabinet facades are the face of the kitchen, it’s essential to choose them in a natural finish that would complement the wabi-sabi style. Other than that, you can pick out vintage spoon hangers and put mismatched accessories on them. The countertop should have asymmetric and discordant patterns like the natural specks, spots, and veins found in marble and granite. Buther-block wood is also an excellent choice for wabi-sabi kitchens. Note that all the little details matter, so distressed brass or vintage copper drawer and cabinet handles can make a huge visual impact on the overall styling of such kitchens.
The Wabi-Sabi Dining Area
The piece de resistance of a dining area is, of course, the table and the chairs – sometimes even a sideboard to feature the crockery. You can pick all these pieces out in natural distressed wood finishes so that they fit the well-worn and well-loved category that is so characteristic of the wabi-sabi interior design style.
Wabi-sabi Color Palette
The wabi-sabi interior design style is all about emulating peace, calm, love, and tranquility. Therefore, the color palette that represents this style must follow all of these emotions. Earthy and understated colors that exude natural appeal are the highlight of this style. The neutral color palette with its browns, taupe, beige, tans, and other earthy hues should be consulted when selecting the color scheme for this style.
As far as accent is concerned, you should choose healing colors like chocolate brown, refreshing greens, and cool blues. Dark burgundies can also be used to emulate a pop of contrast within bland spaces.
Material representation is pretty standard for the wabi-sabi style. You need to go for wooden textures on a large scale. Bamboo accents and rattan style furniture always make a good impact. Understated stone highlights can be used to emulate accentuation within these spaces.
Wabi-Sabi Décor Elements
The wabi-sabi style is like a patchwork quilt of beautiful décor elements. They don’t match with each other perfectly, but that is the ultimate charm of this style. Here are some décor elements that will help you emulate the wabi-sabi look in your interior designs more accurately:
The wabi-sabi style specializes in natural textures. They follow a sense of rustic charm within these spaces. Rough stone texture in beige or white can make a stunning feature wall. Distressed wood textures can deliver beautiful accentuation. Light concrete surfaces can also emulate that stylishly rough-hewn look within the space. Basically, anything that is timeworn, homely, and inherently raw can suit the wabi-sabi style perfectly.
Fabrics can make a fantastic décor element in wabi-sabi spaces. The challenge lies in choosing the right ones, though. The first priority should be given to anything handmade. So, if you have any of your grandmother’s quilts, an old throw, a handwoven shawl, or anything that has a homespun look, then you can artfully arrange it on your couch arm, or at the foot of the bed. In complete contrast, you can also decorate with woven fabric upholsteries. The fact that they won’t be glass-framed will suit this style better.
The art of kintsugi is a vital décor element of the wabi-sabi interior design style. It’s a Japanese concept of repairing cracked pottery and vessels with gilded resin. The gold or silver tinted resin solidifies on top of the crack and highlights the existing imperfections within these vessels with beauty. Therefore, kintsugi emulates the very soul of the wabi-sabi style in a single, stylish décor venture: i.e., celebrating the damage and flaws within a certain thing instead of condemning or discarding or even hiding them.
Braided Jute / Cotton Baskets
If you need an accent piece for your wabi-sabi style, then go for braided jute or cotton baskets. They’re made out of fabric and have that homespun look that is so characteristic of this style. They’re also highly functional. You can hide away any clutter that manifests around your spaces quite quickly in these baskets. Alternately, you can even put in a medium-sized planter within these baskets to elevate the natural aura.
Handcrafted ceramic art is also a design element that would befit the wabi-sabi interior design style. You can find several beautifully curated pieces in ceramic workshops and ateliers. Some of them are hand-painted with intricate and colorful designs. Others boast the natural ceramic clay texture with pattern inlays. You can even find ceramic art that can be used as wall hangings. If you find enough pieces, you can also create a stunning gallery wall out of them.
Terracotta pottery is also a décor element that can fit well within the wabi-sabi aesthetic. From simple ones that hold plants to artistic ones with geometric cutouts, you can find them in so many shapes and sizes. You can even take on a DIY venture and paint a terracotta pot when you have some free time. You simply need watercolor paints and some brushes. Once again, perfection is not something you should aim for. Just have fun and feature the end product in your interior design!
Natural fiber Rugs
Lastly, beautiful natural fiber rugs such as sisal, hemp, and khaki jute would make amazing floor accent pieces in a wabi-sabi interior design. Their natural texture, color, and aesthetic can evoke a stylish boho-chic vibe within the space, which perfectly complements the wabi-sabi style. Check out more on the best minimalist rug styles for the modern home.
Since nature is such a vital part of the wabi-sabi style, you must find creative ways to incorporate it. Aside from lush planters, you can also feature stunning dry arrangements in such spaces. Just take an old vase, collect some twigs and flowers from your garden, and let your imagination take the lead. You can also find amazing dry arrangement inspirations on the internet. Just don’t bound yourself by thinking that you must create something perfect. The best part about wabi-sabi accessorization is featuring imperfections, and celebrating them is what makes this style so unique.
Wabi-sabi lighting can be separated into two categories. First of all, you must emulate an abundance of natural light to enhance the positive energy and peacefulness of the wabi-sabi design style. This requires large windows and an open floor layout. You can go for sheer curtains as window treatments. Sheer curtains can also be customized, so you’ll have a lot of opportunities to experiment with the fabric.
Secondly, we have artificial lighting. Warm light is the best choice – both for ambient purposes as well as accentuation. It helps elevate the peaceful vibe and complements the earthy color scheme quite nicely. You can set up floor lamps or wall-lights for accentuation, while ceiling LEDs can be used for ambient lighting.
Why choose wabi-sabi?
If you need a break from the perfection driven modern styles that everyone is obsessed with, then the wabi-sabi interior design style would be the best choice for you. It’s homespun appeal, inherent calmness, attachment with nature, and well-loved items not only relaxes the soul but also energizes you on a bone-deep level. It’s a style that is comfortable, perfect in its imperfections, and never fails to evoke tranquility in your day to day lives.
I hope this guide helps you articulate it in your homes with ease, panache, and style.