What Is Wabi-Sabi, and How Can It Transform Your Life?

Posted by Ashley Marshall on

Home design is more than just picking things that look pretty; it's also about creating a space that offers peaceful respite just when you need it. Your home can and should become an extension of your wellness. One design style that helps you nourish your need for a beautiful space that heals is wabi-sabi. This ancient Japanese tradition has always offered a meaningful solution, and it's finding new life in 2018. Here is how you can use wabi-sabi to not only transform your home but also your eye for finding beauty everywhere (even in yourself).

Origins of Wabi-Sabi

Wabi-sabi is a 15th-century Japanese philosophy that was formed in response to the opulence and elegance of formal tea parties and extravagant trappings. While the term can be difficult to translate into English, the overall spirit of the philosophy is one of celebrating imperfection, incompleteness, and impermanence.
Loosely translated, "wabi" embodies a mood of serenity and simple, austere beauty. Some people also interpret it to mean simplicity and humility. "Sabi" is an aesthetic of "less is more" and an appreciation for the passage of time and natural growth. It can also symbolize the beauty of rustic patina, or the natural aging of something. The appeal of this school of thought is clear to anyone looking for a departure from Type-A obsessive perfection. Wabi-sabi leaves room for celebrating authenticity and the beauty of things in their natural state – flaws and all.

How Wabi-Sabi Is Used in Design

So how does this philosophy of accepting imperfection translate to wellness in interior design? You can manifest wabi-sabi in lots of ways. It starts with the choice of materials – wabi-sabi means limiting the number of pieces you include and using items manufactured of natural, sustainable materials that show their flaws.
Think bamboo chairs, stone tabletops and woven wool rugs. Use ceramic nesting bowls (only as many has you actually need) that are hand-thrown and imperfectly formed. Organic fabrics, simple wooden picture frames and large glass vases with dents and scratches all embody the idea of wabi-sabi and create authentic beauty with personality.

Here are three tangible things you can do to get started today:

1. Do a clutter sweep. Eliminate excess utensils, trinkets, and items that don't serve a purpose.
2. Purchase a ceramic planter and plant a succulent garden.
3. Get a coffee table hand made from wooden crates.

Harnessing Wabi-Sabi for Stress Relief and Acceptance

Using wabi-sabi in your design is about more than creating a beautiful space. Just ask psychologists, who say that wabi-sabi may be the ideal antidote to shame. When you give your home the permission to be imperfect yet lovable, you create an environment in which you welcome your own imperfections.
As you seek out a way to bring natural decor into your home, take time to reflect about how you can accept some of your own quirky traits. Wabi-sabi also opens space for forgiveness and mindfulness. According to Marianna Pogosyan, Ph.D., wabi-sabi in the home frees us of the "relentless pursuit for perfection" in all things and opens more space for love toward ourselves and others. Learning to embrace scars, flaws and quirks in our surroundings can transfer to the way we treat people.
Ready to embrace a holistic approach to your home design that encourages the acceptance of imperfection? Give the wabi-sabi aesthetic and mindset a chance. Stop worrying about perfectly symmetric designs and smooth edges, and let the appeal of a flea market find inspire your room. With a decluttering exercise and a new attitude toward the natural state of things, you may soon find your life transformed.

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