How to Apply the Principles of Wabi-Sabi in Your Home

Forget trying to achieve that pristine, picture-perfect Instagram #interiordesign look. It’s finally time to reveal the cracks, leave the surfaces unpolished, and show off all those imperfections. Wabi-sabi is officially in.

If you’re unfamiliar with what this trend is and how to even begin adopting the trend in your home, we spoke to stylist, author and magazine columnist, Selina Lake, for all her expert tips!

Wabi Sabi Living Room

Source: Ryland Peters

What is wabi-sabi?

Wabi-sabi, an ancient Japanese philosophy turned décor trend, is about embracing your authentic self, and the imperfections of your space. Think bare plaster walls, with a simple yet beautiful piece of furniture displayed in front of the ‘imperfect’ wall.

How does this translate to everyday life?

It is an easy trend and philosophy to adopt, especially if your home is a work in progress or you’re on a tight decorating budget. Work with what you have and think of ways to make displays with a few choice items, like an old pile of books, a vase (this could have chips), and some botanical details, such as a decorative branch, wilting flowers or houseplant.

Wabi Sabi cutlery

Source: Ryland Peters

Why do you think it’s gained recent popularity? Particularly considering it’s been around for a long time?

We all live such busy lives that when a trend for a relaxed, carefree style comes into fruition, it’s easy to adopt. It’s about making good choices when deciding on products we invest in; comfy furniture, well-made pieces and items sourced from natural materials are all popular with the wabi-sabi style. It’s a trend that feels good, as well as looks good in an almost effortless way.

How can we bring wabi-sabi into our lives?

To get the look here are my style tips:-

  1. Use natural colours and tones, draw colour inspiration for home decor from the natural world; earthy greens, cloud greys and stone shades work really well.
  2. Be more relaxed. Put the iron and ironing board away. Linen/cotton curtains or bedding can be wrinkled and creased – it’s all part of the look.
  3. Bring the outside in! Arrange sticks in an old jug on a sideboard or dresser, place found acorns in a ceramic bowl or display house plants in natural baskets.
  4. Work with natural light. Before arranging furniture in your room, take a look at where the natural light comes into the space. Never block it by positioning furniture in front of a window, and instead, leave areas where it’s possible to let light bounce around the room.  

Wabi Sabi Home Office desk

Source: Ryland Peters

How can we bring wabi-sabi into the home?

Natural materials are key to this look. Invest in new pieces that will adopt the wabi-sabi style over time; rustic oak and mango wood are good choices as, over time, well-worn wood has a beauty to it which is hard to replicate. Each piece of furniture in your home tells a story, perhaps has travelled with you from previous homes, and over time comes embedded with family life – this means crayon marks, tea rings and worn areas can all be embraced.   

Wabi Sabi Display Cabinet

Source: Ryland Peters

How do you infuse wabi-sabi into your own life and routine?

When we moved into our house, I wanted to turn a spare bedroom into my home office. The previous owner had wallpapered one wall with a design that was not my taste so I decided to rip it off the wall. Before I started I said to my husband, “if the wall underneath is interesting, I’m leaving it bare!”, and to my luck, the wallpaper came away easy, to reveal a beautiful patina wall with aged plasterwork and hints of colours from previous years of decorating. I love it and it stayed. The rest of the room was painted white including the wooden floorboards after the carpet was removed and it’s now a feature of the room. I display twigs in vases on a shelf and light scented candles which help keep me relaxed while I’m striving to meet deadlines!

About Selina Lake.

Selina Lake is a freelance interior stylist and author, specialising in lookbooks, events, sets. She is a columnist in Modern Gardens magazine, where she shares styling tips and on-trend ideas, and is the author of eight best-selling Home and Garden books which have been published in over 8 different languages and sold Worldwide. As well as an expert on interiors and home decor, she also compiles inspiration, craft, shopping and lifestyle features for magazines and companies; Country Living UK, Country Homes & Interiors, Sony, and Dobbies Garden Centre just to name a few.

Selina is currently working on her 9th book for publishers, Ryland Peters & Small, which will be launched Spring 2019.