Defining Your Style: Wabi Sabi

What makes a house a home? What gives character to a space? As an Atlanta faux finish artist, my specialty lies in embracing the details. Often it is the imperfections, the subtle nuances that make something special, and that is exactly what wabi sabi style is all about.

wabi sabi interior design

via Apartment Therapy

What is Wabi Sabi?

The simple definition of the Japanese term “wabi sabi” is the beauty of imperfection, often exemplified by interior design that embraces the worn, weathered, and imperfect. However, this is only a surface explanation of a deeper concept.

Wabi sabi is more than just physical descriptors; it is a philosophy. The concept of wabi sabi stems from the original meanings of the two words- “despondence” and “the bloom of time,” respectively. Combined, they embody a mindset influenced by Zen Buddhism, which respects the natural march of time and an appreciation for “aging gracefully.” A wabi sabi approach to life means taking pleasure in simplicity and finding beauty in imperfection.

Wabi Sabi Interior Design

So, does embracing a wabi sabi design philosophy mean that you must redecorate your home with Asian décor or fill it with rusty, dusty old artifacts? Not at all! A wabi sabi attitude is evident in everything from Shaker furnishings and Arts and Crafts style to mid-century modern décor.

rustic interior design with natural finishes

via Houzz

This writing nook is a great example of wabi sabi influence on a classic American design aesthetic. Simple, antique furnishings in a variety of finishes give the impression that they have been collected over time. Handmade and natural items like a woven basket and dried flowers add simple, timeless beauty to the space.  Each item, from the cozy throw draped over the chair to the diminutive yet carefully displayed paintings works together in harmony with the rest of the room to create a sense of tranquility.

living room with rustic, aged finishes

via Houzz

The same principles are at play in this transitional living room. The light, airy space combines crisp upholstery and traditional architecture with weathered farmhouse tables, bundled firewood, and unique natural objects like a turtle shell and a wooden bowl of pine cones. Natural materials like the woven rug and wood floors are wonderful wabi sabi elements that lend a sense of warmth to the space.

wabi sabi dining room with floral branch arrangement

via Houzz

Wabi sabi style also works well in contemporary interiors where simplicity is embraced. This minimalist dining room allows the architecture of the space to shine. A collection of mismatched glass vases filled with assorted botanicals creates an organic, casual centerpiece.

Atlanta faux finish project- aged wood

Distressed architectural faux finish by Kass Wilson

Don’t be afraid to try adding some wabi sabi style to your home! Faux finishes are a great way to do so, from adding an aged patina to architectural elements to distressing cabinetry for a more mature, lived-in look.

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