I’ve long been drawn to aesthetics that celebrate imperfection, so when I discovered Wabi Sabi, it was like finding a little piece of my design soul. 

The Wabi Sabi interior design style embraces elegance in the earth’s natural, unrefined beauty. It’s deeply rooted in culture and it promotes calm, authentic living. 

If you love the idea of a “perfectly imperfect” style, Wabi Sabi interior design (and this blog!) is for you.

What is Wabi Sabi Interior Design?

Wabi Sabi is as much of a philosophy as it is a style. With origins dating back to 15th-century Japanese tea master, Sen Rikyū, Wabi Sabi centers around accepting and appreciating imperfection and simplicity. With wabi meaning “deliberate simplicity in daily living” and sabi meaning “appreciation of the old and faded”, the Wabi Sabi concept encourages us to be intentional about “less is more” living and find peace in the little irregularities life has to offer.

beautiful wabi sabi style dish

In the context of interior design, Wabi Sabi translates to spaces that are unpretentious, lived-in, and in harmony with nature. Uneven textures, hand-thrown pottery, cracked ceramics, and asymmetric wood grains are all welcome in Wabi Sabi interior design. 

Much like Wabi Sabi interior design, French Provincial and English Cottage have historical roots. Check them out now. 

Elements of Wabi Sabi Interior Design

The Wabi Sabi principles of cherishing imperfections are a breath of fresh air. Some key Wabi Sabi interior design characteristics include:

Simplicity & Minimalism

At its heart, Wabi Sabi interior design is about simplicity and stripping things back to their bare state. It says yes to items that are essential and meaningful and no to unnecessary ones. 

Natural Materials

wabi sabi interior design

At the core of Wabi Sabi interior design is the use of organic, unrefined materials. Think raw woods, stone, clay, and natural fibers. These materials age beautifully and carry a unique story through their textures and imperfections as they grow older.

Subdued, Muted Colours

Wabi Sabi favours a palette that reflects the natural world. Earthy, neutral tones like beiges, creams, and soft greys create a calm and tranquil environment. Moodier natural colours, like olives and terra cottas, are sometimes used to accent the space.

Beauty in Imperfection

Embracing asymmetry, irregularity, and incompleteness is a fundamental aspect of the Wabi Sabi interior design style. This can be seen in handmade decor items, uneven textures, and objects that proudly display their wear and tear.

Connection with Nature

Wabi Sabi interior design often includes elements that bring the outside in, such as plants, natural light, and water features to create a harmonious balance.

Did you know that both Japandi and Scandinavian styles share design elements with Wabi Sabi? Learn about them now.

How to Incorporate Wabi Sabi in Your Home

Adopting Wabi Sabi in your home is a journey into appreciating the beauty in imperfection. Here’s how you can begin the transformation to a more genuine space:

Choose Authentically

Opt for items that are handcrafted or have an organic feel. Embrace objects with irregular shapes, textures, or slightly ‘flawed’ features, like rough stoneware or soft, irregular textiles, as they bring character and uniqueness. 

Source Materials That Last

There’s an unapologetic grace that comes with ageing. Choose materials that are made to last and tell a story over time. This could be anything from a weathered wooden table to textured linen fabrics that gain character with each wash.

Minimalism with Meaning

Wabi Sabi interior design aligns with minimalism, but with a focus on objects that have personal significance. Each item in your home should have a purpose or bring joy, which should help you avoid clutter for the sake of aesthetics.

Embrace a Lived-in Look

Instead of hiding wear and tear, welcome it with open arms. A scratched wooden floor or a faded rug can tell a story of genuine lived-in comfort.

Mix Old with New

Combine older, well-loved pieces with newer items. This blend adds depth to your decor and resonates with the Wabi Sabi philosophy of valuing the passage of time. Plan a day where you pop into unique artisan shops then visit some local consignment and second hand stores.

Create Tranquil Spaces

Wabi Sabi interior design is about creating a sense of peace and tranquillity. Utilize soft lighting, minimal furnishings, and dedicated areas in your home for relaxation and reflection. Incorporate plants and natural light to embody a spirit of natural beauty and growth. 

Minimalist wabisabi bedroom plant and decoartion in japanese bedroom. 3D rendering.

The benefits of Wabi Sabi interior design go far beyond its beautifully understated aesthetic. Its emphasis on nature and roots in ancient philosophy encourages peace, mindfulness, and tranquillity. It’s a style that invites you to slow down, appreciate the moment, and find contentment in simplicity.

In my opinion, the most breathtaking designs are those that are imperfect. And there’s no design more beautifully flawed than nature itself. The journey to creating a home that is authentic to you is ongoing and ever-evolving–just like the beauty of Wabi Sabi itself. 

Need help creating a home that’s uniquely you? Contact Unshelf Design today.