Wabi-Sabi Home: Embracing The Beauty Of Imperfection

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This is the second blog in our ‘Craft Yourself Happy’ series, in which we discuss how crafting can make you happier. And in this case, even when your makes don’t turn out 100% right.

You might be wondering why we’d be writing about Wabi-Sabi Japanese philosophy on a home and craft blog. 

This popular philosophy is so closely linked with how you choose to live and look after your house that we just had to talk about it.

It’s also a philosophy pretty close to our hearts.

Growing up, we’re often told things like “practice makes perfect” or “keep going; you’ll get it eventually”. 

But words like this forget to teach us that often, the happiness and joy is in the trying – even if we don’t get it quite right the first time or even on the tenth try.

As Scott and I get to that age when we start seriously thinking about our futures and how we might decide to bring up our future children, we’ve started thinking about what we’d want them to learn.

Almost immediately, teaching them the beauty of imperfection comes to mind.

As children and even as adults, we’re rarely going to be amazing at something straightaway. We must embrace the imperfections or else we run the risk of not trying at all.

Closeup of finished tissue paper bleeding art

We want our future children to be triers and risk takers and to do what makes them happy rather than thinking they have to do something perfectly in order to please us, themselves or someone else.

Better to have a hundred perfectly imperfect drawings on our fridge than none at all, right?

But putting our future children to one side for a minute, accepting imperfections is also something a lot of us need to learn as adults too.

If you’re like me though and struggle with perfectionism (especially when it comes to your home and crafting), then come with us on a journey as we tell you all about Wabi-Sabi and how the Japanese are embracing the beauty of imperfection as a lifestyle and deep-rooted philosophy.

What is Wabi-Sabi?

Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese philosophy focused around finding and embracing the beauty of imperfection.

The concept is used both within art and interior design and common themes include asymmetry, roughness, simplicity and an appreciation for nature itself and natural objects.

Wabi Sabi Home Decor

So why is Wabi-Sabi something we should consider incorporating more in our everyday lives?

It’s a well known fact that Western cultures are obsessed with perfection. 

You only need to scroll through Instagram to see that homes are being shown as neat as a pin (despite children living in the house!), we’re obsessed with how we look and don’t even get us started on if something we create isn’t perfect.

But the Japanese believe this isn’t the ideal way to live. 

Wabi-Sabi is about appreciating that wonky carrot you grew yourself in your own back garden, the notches and stains on a coffee table that’s become lovingly weathered after years of use or the thumb markings on a bowl that was made by hand.

Wabi-Sabi House

Instead of growing dissatisfied because we’re striving for perfection that simply doesn’t exist, Wabi-Sabi says we should accept and love how things are and how they were probably always meant to be. 

In other words, we should accept and embrace life and all the imperfections that come with it.

How to create a Wabi-Sabi home

If you want to take a leaf out of the Japanese teachings and create your very own Wabi-Sabi home then here are five basic principles to live by.

1. Make your own pieces of home decor

A Wabi-Sabi house is one that celebrates homemade items and all the imperfections that come with them.

So surround yourself with artwork or cute little projects you or someone you love has made… and let them plaster a smile across your face every time you see them.

Here are a few of our favourite DIY home decor projects to get you started:

2. Decorate your house with unique artisanal finds

But if you’re a little nervous to make your own home decor then Wabi-Sabi also celebrates the artisanal.

So why not use this as the perfect excuse to support a small business and buy something that someone else has handmade with love.

Here are a few artisanal finds we love that would look great in any loving Wabi-Sabi home:

3. Take inspiration from nature

Wabi-Sabi is also about appreciating the beautiful imperfections we find in nature everyday. 

The magnificent oak tree, which has shed some of its leaves ahead of winter. 

The colourful wisteria that isn’t growing in straight lines but is twisting and turning every which way. 

The humble bumblebee that doesn’t fly in straight lines but hops from flower to flower to get its fill of nectar.

So take inspiration from nature by choosing natural materials to decorate your home with like wood, wicker, hessian and sea shells. 

Or bring the outside in through displaying real plants and flowers or incorporating nature into your designs through interesting prints and patterns.

Wabi-Sabi Japanese Philosophy

4. Mix and match your decor, fabrics and furnishings

You should also not be afraid to mix and match your home decor.

While we can all fight tooth and nail to get a particular colour scheme in each room or work to a particular theme, Wabi-Sabi throws caution to the wind and encourages you to mix and match until it feels right to you.

And because everyone’s tastes are different, the effects you’ll get are so personal and unique.

So stop worrying if something in your living room is a different colour from everything else or if your chairs don’t match around the dining table. 

Just as long as the things in your home bring you joy, embrace the quirkiness!

5. Hide or get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy

Which leads us nicely onto this final point.

Wabi-Sabi speaks to the minimalist but also to the people who hide away or get rid of things that don’t bring them joy. 

Not because they’re imperfect items but because there are tainted memories associated with them or because you’ve got too much clutter in your house and can’t think straight.

The goal is to get that wonderful ‘Home Sweet Home’ feeling by ensuring that we’re only surrounding ourselves with the things we love most and that bring us joy and happiness every time we see them.

Easy DIY Key Holder (using a picture frame)

Using perfectly imperfect quotes as your daily Wabi-Sabi reminder

Sometimes all you need as a daily reminder to have a bit more Wabi-Sabi in your life is with a powerful quote.

Take a look at these perfectly imperfect quotes, which would look great turned into artwork or even just placed on your fridge or notice board to remind you that:

  • “Life isn’t meant to be lived perfectly…but merely to be LIVED. Boldly, wildly, beautifully, uncertainly, imperfectly, magically LIVED.” – Mandy Hale 
  • “It’s better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” – Robert H. Schuller
  • “One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist…..Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.” – Stephen Hawking
  • “To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyze vitality.” – John Ruskin
  • “Flaws. We all have them. BUT, they are all about perception. What I consider as a flaw may not be what someone else considers a flaw.” – Horacio Jones
  • “Don’t aim for perfection. Aim for ‘better than yesterday’.” – Izey Victoria Odiase
  • “You were born to be real not to be perfect.” – Ralph Marston
  • “It is easier to be happy if you look beyond imperfections than seeking happiness by trying too hard to make everything perfect.” – Anon
  • “Imperfection and perfection go so hand in hand, and our dark and our light are so intertwined, that by trying to push the darkness or the so-called negative aspects of our life to the side, we are preventing ourselves from the fullness of life.” – Jeff Bridges
  • “Gold cannot be pure and people cannot be perfect.” – Chinese Proverb

Do you think you could get behind the Wabi-Sabi Japanese philosophy? Have you already got a Wabi-Sabi house? Share your thoughts, feelings and opinions in the comments below…

Did you enjoy reading this? Share our guide to embracing the beauty of imperfection with someone else who might like it…

Wabi-Sabi House & Japanese Philosophy

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Justine is one half of the newlywed duo behind this home and craft blog, as well as the couples travel blog Wanderers of the World. When not away travelling with her husband and Rough Collie, she's always making something or busying about the house. So really, it's no surprise that House of Mahalo was born!

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