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Interior Design Trends: Say Hello to Wabi-Sabi


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If you like the patina of objects when they age, are not a fan of matchy-matchy decorating ideas, enjoy visiting flea markets, and prefer small retail stores and neutral colours, you are a wabi-sabi advocate. You just don’t know it yet! You may or may not heard of this Japanese interior design trend that makes homes perfect in an imperfect way! But either way, you need to know more in order to decide whether or not this is the style for you.

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  • Let me just point out that this is not a new home interior style.
  • Wabi-sabi is not keeping broken things or buying anything you find in flea markets.
  • It’s not only a home design trend but a way of living.

What is wabi-sabi, anyway?

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It’s no secret that Japanese like their interiors simple without necessarily endorsing the home décor idea of less is more. This simplicity was merely a hymn to the imperfect beauty of nature and the mortality of humans – hence, impermanence. And all these notions trace back to the 15th century and the strong reaction to the opulence, ornaments, and efforts to keep interiors perfect.

In a free version, wabi means living and sabi withered. Over the years, wabi was understood as anything simple and fresh – just like nature, and sabi was translated as the charm old things provide when they weather.

So, what is the wabi-sabi interior style? It’s the dominance of imperfect things, which reminds us that life makes circles. Nothing lasts forever. And in order for us to live a happy life, we need to celebrate today because we are all transient on earth.

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Still having a hard time connecting the idea of wabi-sabi with your home interior design? Well, think of:

  • Imperfect room designs
  • Natural materials
  • Weathered furniture
  • Lots of natural light
  • Simple interiors
  • Lack of ornaments

The perfect imperfections of wabi sabi (and why you’ll love it)

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It’s tiring to keep the house perfect all the time. Make your bed every morning, tidy up the living room, find the perfect accessories for each room, match the colors, match trimwork… Wabi sabi sets you free. Does this mean you end up with a messy house? No, no, no!!! But you don’t become a slave either. You are free of any anxiety that urges you to keep things in perfect order. And that’s why this interior style is considered a philosophy of life. Want to view living room renovation photos to get inspired? See images shared by Model Home Makeover.

And then again, perfection is not always nice. It’s actually boring. It’s like when you decide to install coffered ceilings because you feel that flat ceilings are boring. Same thing here. The imperfection of wabi-sabi adds volume and character to your home. And since homes are made for humans (who are not perfect), they don’t only gain personality but are filled with energy too.

You don’t have to bring wabi-sabi home (it’s already here)

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Although this trend gives you some freedom in regard to your interior decorating choices, it’s not entirely free of rules. The whole idea is to keep things simple, natural! But it’s not exactly like the eclectic design according to which you can incorporate décor ideas of all architectural periods!

If you plan to decorate in accordance with the wabi-sabi house design rules, the ideas are plenty.

  • Add wainscoting panels to keep wall decorations simple.
  • Incorporate pale and neutral hues.
  • Mix (and not match) fabrics of any pattern.
  • Prefer natural materials, like wood, stone, brick…
  • If you plan large home renovation projects, enlarge your windows to let more natural light penetrate the house.
  • Keep kitchen cabinets, furnishings and all objects in simple forms.
  • Order storage and wall units to declutter your space.

Image source: yatzer.com

The idea is to decorate with natural materials and in a simple way.

 And so, here are the DON’TS:

  • Don’t throw away old tables just because they are weathered.
  • Don’t choose intense colors – you can always paint walls black, get vintage tiles, and buy cushions in geometrical textures but avoid reds, yellows, and anything not absolutely natural.
  • Don’t sterilize rooms. Keep them free of clutter and clean but don’t panic in the sight of cushions on the floor or unmade beds. Consider them part of your design.
  • Don’t toss your favorite vase because a section is broken. Glue it and celebrate its imperfection (unless you hated it in the first place).

You get the idea…

Image source: Est Living.com

In short, Wabi sabi will become your best friend

Wabi sabi will become your best friend. Why? Because your home will not be boring anymore and you won’t be exhausted. Your rooms will inspire a natural feeling of warmth and pure (not fake) elegance. And you will have the freedom of (finally) mismatching things, keeping old stuff you so much love but were inclined to throw away under the dictatorship of perfect designs. So, what’s not to love about it?

Author: Alex Lewinsky

Experienced with home renovations, Alex Lewinsky brings a whole new dimension to interior design and house remodeling. An interior designer himself, Alex doesn’t hesitate to try out new ideas but always in the spirit of making homes functional, friendly, and elegant. If you like to get all sorts of home renovation tips, visit the Model-Home Makeover’s website.






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