What is Wabi-Sabi and How Can You Achieve it at Home?

For those looking to embrace authenticity and simplicity in their home decor, enter wabi-sabi.

what is wabi-sabi Photographee.eu/Shutterstock

For those looking to embrace authenticity and simplicity in their home decor, enter wabi-sabi. The Japanese term essentially means finding beauty in the world’s imperfections. Instead of going out and finding the latest trendy piece in decor, wabi-sabi adopters use the concept to create a space using a mix of primarily homemade and artisan pieces.

Achieving Wabi-Sabi at Home

Achieving wabi-sabi design doesn’t happen overnight. Here are four ways to begin to transform your home.

1. Clear out the clutter. The concept may mean appreciating imperfections, but that doesn’t mean you should tolerate clutter and live with a space that is unorganized. Start by getting rid of items you no longer need or want. Now is the time to incorporate the Marie Kondo method of tidying up. Once you get rid of items you no longer need, find a way to organize your remaining belongings.

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2. Mix homemade items with artisan-made pieces. Consider displaying items from a favorite vacation with homemade ceramics or pieces from a local art fair.

3. Add outdoor accents. Look to imperfections found in wood, stone and plants as additions to your design. Display some unique stones on a coffee table and add some plants and flowers. Something as simple as a stack of wood next to the fireplace or some branches in a tall vase in the corner of the room adds a wabi-sabi touch.

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4. Use the mix-and-match technique. Instead of having all your furniture and decor match, go ahead and add some character to the space. Try using a fabric-covered couch mixed with a wood chair, metal table and vibrant woven rug. When it comes to wabi-sabi design, it’s all about finding balance in imperfection.

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Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.