Yay today is my 100th post! And I cannot think of a better topic than "wabi sabi"!!! What's that you say?? Yup, that was my reaction too when I heard it yesterday for the first time........, till I researched it and fell in love with its philosophy! And now I know I'm a wabi sabi gal! It's a long post....but stay with me!
Simply put, wabi-sabi is the marriage of the Japanese wabi, meaning humble, and sabi, which connotes beauty in the natural progression of time. Together, the phrase invites us to set aside our pursuit of perfection and learn to appreciate the simple, unaffected beauty of things as they are. Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It's simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet-that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent.
Intimately tied to Zen Buddhism, wabi-sabi can be embraced as an aesthetic sense, but it also brings a subtle spiritual component into the home. It reminds us that home should be a sanctuary, not a loud place full of disturbance and distraction. It asks that we set aside our judgments and our need for perfection, and focus instead on the beauty of things as they are. It is a kind of earthy interior design which is balanced, organic, free from clutter and chaos, and somehow quite beautiful in its simple presentation, never appearing ostentatious or decorated. To create a true wabi-sabi environment, one must slowly strip away excess and learn to be satisfied living in the moment.
Here are the basic rules:
Declutter first. Keep your interior on the spare side. Wabi-sabi philosophy is that it is just as important to know when NOT to buy as to know when to buy. Overcrowded interiors can make occupants feel weighed down and restricted. Open, airy interiors hint at freedom and the possibilities of life. The key is to not veer so much in the direction of austerity that things get ostentatiously minimalist again. Keep things comfortable.
Eschew symmetry. Wabi-sabi thrives on the irregular and asymmetrical. The goal is to look beyond conventional beauty to find pleasure in what some might even consider the ugly. So avoid “matching” anything and go for a much more casual, unplanned look that is confident enough to incorporate that weathered sideboard or distressed table.
Focus on natural, organic materials and shapes. Wabi-sabi appreciates first and foremost nature. So look for ways to bring nature inside the home. This might mean linen slipcovers, a jute rug, a rough-hewn oak dining table and bamboo floors. And remember that the natural materials don’t have to be the most exalted. Wabi-sabi holds a special appreciation for the simpler materials that might include bamboo, paper, mud and rocks. Expensive marble and granite countertops are natural, but not really humble enough to be considered wabi-sabi.
Allow things to age. Did the kids just scratch up the dining room table? Did the cat just put a new rip in the rug? Did you chip that dish or dent that chair? Great! The wabi-sabi way appreciates the patina of age and signs of a life well-lived. Remember not to take this too far. Wabi-sabi doesn’t mean messy or slovenly, so when things truly need to be repaired, fix them.
Here are images of Wabi Sabi House built by well known Olson Kundig Architects and set in a traditional residential neighborhood of Houston. This single-family home combines the beauty of natural materials and simple modern forms. The roughness of cedar siding is balanced by a quiet and peaceful interior. An open floor plan facilitates flow through the space, culminating in an expansive roof deck, which overlooks mature bamboo and pecan trees.
So to recap.......