Wabi Sabi- Designing the Imperfect


I am the first to embrace imperfection. I have lived in old houses, been man-down because we have four kids, and loved our fair share of rescue animals (although I would argue that they are all practically perfect!).

But I would be lying if I said that, in this day and age, I didn’t get swept up in the idea of the perfect design, the perfect vacation (wait, I have four kids, nevermind!), or perfect career. Our industry might be one of the worst offenders as peddlers of perfection. We are constantly showing and telling folks just how to get it right. The perfect sofa, the perfect color, the perfect home…

mushrooms on rocks

This week we look at the art of embracing things which are not tangibly embraceable…acceptance, time, and worth. The art of good enough.

Wabi Sabi, derived from traditional Japanese esthetics, translates into the beauty found in imperfection, impermanence, and incompleteness. It takes on the visual esthetics of roughness, simplicity, and asymmetry. It invites the on looker to seek a meaning that goes beyond what society has deemed beautiful.

In a world where social media delivers us the perfect life faster than Amazon, I think now is the perfect time to embrace this concept in our daily lives.

“Imperfection” is all around us. Nature abounds with what we might consider disorderly and wild. In truth, she knows just what she is doing and we can take most of our life lessons by listening.

Photography by Harry Von Stark


~Find ways to use your old and reclaimed items and seek out ways to repair what you love. And don’t worry if it doesn’t look just the way it used to. Neither do we.


~Seek out an eclectic motif (the art of using what you already have!). Color is the great unifier. Feel comfortable mixing and matching styles that celebrate your family and your history.

Elle Decor

~Bring the outdoors in. I know I sound like a broken record, but truly the benefits of allowing nature into your home are immeasurable. Start small and grow as your confidence does. Nature is so forgiving!

Herb Wall- Decoist

~Keep it simple. In our last blog we talked about the art of uncluttering. This frees the mind and actually calms the brain. We are hardwired for simplicity.

The Future Kept

~Use organic materials and think about welcoming the earth elements into your home..wood, water, fire, metal, and air all have profound affects on a space and are so easy to incorporate.

inviting organic palette- pinterest
Greystone Statements

While the term Wabi-Sabi comes from Japan, the concept is a scarlet thread world wide. Both the Kearsarge Indians and Islamic artisans believed that perfection only existed with God. They would purposely weave a bit of imperfection into each design to acknowledge that we should not dare to compare ourselves to God. Also purposeful imperfection takes the pressure off and allows the mind to move onto more creative thinking.

Kearsarge Weaver

I was reminded, as I am reading Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee, that some of the masters of Wabi Sabi are the quilters of Gee’s Bend. Fueled by necessity, this group of quilters found art and beauty in the everyday hardships and materials that surrounded them. Mostly without patterns, the intricate and organic designs welcomed the everyday story of work, love and family.

Work Clothes by Annie Mae Young- Gee’s Bend

Inviting Wabi Sabi into our everyday lives might not keep us from comparing our lives to those that look to have it all, but it can certainly make the life we do have filled with incomparable joy.

Imperfectly yours,