Discover the Unconventional Beauty of Wabi Sabi Style Design

Read Time (
May 30, 2023
Robern Design Solutions

When it comes to interior design, there are countless styles to choose from, but few are quite as captivating and intriguing as Wabi Sabi style. Originating in Japan, this lifestyle has been around for centuries, but has only recently gained popularity in the western world.  

Let’s discover the details of Wabi Sabi interior design and explore some examples to inspire your home décor.

Understanding Wabi Sabi Philosophy

Originating from tea ceremonies in sixteenth-century Japan, Wabi Sabi is a worldview that emphasizes simplicity, natural materials, and the beauty of imperfection. Wabi Sabi was popularized by tea master Sen no Rikyu, who believed that the essence of the tea ceremony was not in the tea itself, but in the atmosphere created by the tea room and the objects within it.

wabi sabi living room with natural light
Credit: 2ragon

Today, Wabi Sabi has become a global trend, embraced by designers and artists around the world. Its influence can be seen in everything from interior design to fashion to literature, and its timeless principles continue to inspire people to find beauty in imperfection and simplicity.

Core Principles of Wabi Sabi Interior Design

When it comes to interior design, Wabi Sabi is all about embracing the natural world, finding beauty in imperfection, and creating a calm environment. Here are some key elements to keep in mind when designing a Wabi Sabi style interior:

Use of Natural Materials

The use of natural materials is an essential element of Wabi Sabi design, as it emphasizes the beauty of nature. Wood, stone, and clay are favored for their earthy texture and natural appearance.  

minimalist decor on a rustic wood shelf with a brushed charcoal wall behind it
Credit: Svetlana Lukienko

Wabi Sabi style often involves using these materials in their raw and unprocessed state, allowing their inherent beauty to shine through. For example, a wooden table might be left with its natural grain and knots, while a stone floor might be left rough and unpolished.

Embrace Imperfection

In contrast to modern design principles that emphasize perfection, Wabi Sabi embraces the beauty of imperfection. Cracks, chips, and weathering are viewed as marks of character and history. Imperfection helps to create a sense of warmth and approachability, making Wabi Sabi interiors feel lived-in and comfortable.

Minimalist Simplicity

By focusing on simplicity, Wabi Sabi design creates a sense of serenity and calm, which is particularly appealing in today's fast-paced and stressful world. Wabi Sabi interior designs often feature sparse furniture arrangements and open floor plans, which create a sense of spaciousness and allow natural light to flow freely.  

brown neutral living room
Credit: FollowTheFlow

This design principle also encourages the use of multi-functional objects and storage solutions, which help to keep spaces clutter-free and organized.

Neutral, Muted Colors

With a muted color palette, Wabi Sabi interiors are able to highlight the natural beauty of materials and textures, without the distraction of bold or bright colors. This color palette is inspired by nature and features earthy tones such as beige, taupe, and gray. These colors are chosen for their calming and grounding effect, and they work together to create a sense of harmony and balance.

Handcrafted Objects

By incorporating handcrafted objects into an interior, Wabi Sabi design creates a sense of warmth and authenticity, which is often lacking in contemporary rooms.

white natural living room with wooden beams and wabi sabi handmade decor
Credit: Василь Чейпеш

For example, a hand-woven rug might feature irregularities in its pattern or color, which add to its beauty and character. Similarly, a handmade vase might have slight variations in its shape or texture, which make it even more special.

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Wabi Sabi Home Décor Inspiration

If you're interested in incorporating Wabi Sabi style into your home, here are some ideas to get you started.

Wabi Sabi Style Bathroom

minimalist wabi sabi style bathroom with accented walls with stone, marble, and wood finishes. also a large window
Credit: Interior Design

In the bathroom, choose natural materials such as stone or wood for accent wall ideas. Use simple, clean lines for your fixtures and accessories. Add a few natural accents such as a wooden stool or a potted plant to bring in a sense of warmth and tranquility.

Lighting over mirrors in a Wabi Sabi bathroom may take the form of ceiling lamps enhanced by natural lighting.  

Wabi Sabi Style Dining Room

japanese zen style dining room
Credit: 2ragon

The dining room is often the center of gatherings and social events in a home, so it's important to create a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. To incorporate Wabi Sabi style into your dining room, keep your table setting simple and minimalist, with earth-toned plates and simple glassware.

Wabi Sabi Style Bedroom

white nimalist bedroom with warm boho and wabi sabi decor

In the bedroom, keep things simple and uncluttered. Use soft, natural fabrics for your bedding and curtains. Choose a platform bed or a simple wooden frame with clean lines.

Wabi Sabi Style Living Room

white and tan living room with rustic chic interior
Credit: Ilugram

For a Wabi Sabi living room, choose natural materials such as linen or cotton for upholstery and curtains. Opt for furniture with clean lines and minimal ornamentation. Use muted earth tones such as beige, taupe, and gray to create a calming atmosphere.

Related Interior Design Styles

While Wabi Sabi has a unique philosophy and aesthetic, it has some similarities and overlaps with other interior design styles. Here are some other styles that share elements with Wabi Sabi interior design.

Japandi vs. Wabi Sabi Style

Japandi is a fusion of Japanese and Scandinavian design, which combines the minimalism and functionality of Scandinavian design with the traditional elegance and craftsmanship of Japanese design.  

And while Japandi focuses on clean lines, natural materials, and a muted color palette, it often incorporates more modern and geometric elements than Wabi-Sabi. Wabi-Sabi, on the other hand, is often more rustic and organic, with a focus on the use of natural and weathered materials.

Zen vs. Wabi Sabi Style

Wabi Sabi style and Zen style are closely related, as both are rooted in Japanese philosophy and aesthetics. Both styles emphasize simplicity, natural beauty, and the importance of mindfulness in daily life.  

One key difference between Wabi Sabi and Zen styles is their approach to design. Wabi Sabi design is often more tactile and grounded in the physical world, with a focus on natural materials and textures. Zen design, on the other hand, can be more abstract and conceptual,

Rustic vs. Wabi Sabi Style

Rustic style shares Wabi Sabi's emphasis on natural materials, imperfections, and warmth. However, rustic style can be more eclectic and maximalist, while Wabi Sabi is more understated and minimalistic.

Find Joy in Simplicity

In today's fast-paced world, where we're often surrounded by mass-produced, disposable goods, Wabi Sabi reminds us to slow down, appreciate the beauty of the natural world, and find joy in the simple things in life. So, why not incorporate Wabi Sabi elements into your interior styling and organization ideas?  

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