A guide to Wabi Sabi

Wabi Sabi: A guide to embracing imperfection

You may have heard this concept thrown around in the last few years, particularly as a growing trend in the design world. 

You may also have a vague idea of what it looks like when it comes to Wabi Sabi as an interior styling concept. 

However whilst many see Wabi Sabi as a visual aesthetic, it is in fact an ancient Japanese way of life that traces back to the 16th century and can be applied to far more areas of your life than just your living room.

In everything we do at Terra Cruda, the principles of Wabi Sabi are at the forefront of our mind. All items in our collection can be incorporated into your own home to achieve a Wabi Sabi look and lifestyle.

Broken down

Richard Powell said: “Wabi Sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect”.

In the design world, Wabi Sabi is often translated to ‘flawed beauty’, however it carries far more meaning than that alone. It is:

  • a celebration of imperfection
  • an acknowledgment of beauty in the broken, unfinished, aged and unrefined
  • an appreciation of the natural cycles of life and nature, and;
  • a commitment to mindfulness and complete presence


A guide to Wabi Sabi

The concept of Wabi Sabi can be better explained by its two interrelated parts.

Wabi - which refers to the recognition of beauty in humble simplicity, and;

Sabi - which acknowledges the way that all things (particularly those in nature) move through time and inevitably grow, age and decay, in their own unique and beautiful way.

Both Wabi and Sabi imply feelings of solitude or ‘emptiness’ which most forwardly imply a negative connotation, however is a benchmark for spiritual enlightenment in the world of Mahayana Buddhism.

Wabi Sabi encompasses their teaching of the ‘Three Marks of Existence’: impermanence, suffering, and emptiness or absence of self-nature (ego), where notably ‘emptiness’ is a positive characteristic representing liberation from the material world and a transition to a simpler life.

Inviting it into the home

There are many ways to adopt a Wabi Sabi approach to your home styling. 

Wabi Sabi encourages us to continually search for beauty in less obvious places, and accept the natural cycles of growth and decay in nature.

A guide to Wabi Sabi

1 Release expectations

The first step is to abandon a need for perfection. 

In any objects you bring into your home, you must adopt a complete acceptance of its natural state but moreover search for the beauty in its imperfection. The most astounding beauty is found in objects that forwardly appear to be broken.

Take the Japanese art of Kintsugi for example. This exercise involves taking a broken item, typically ceramics, and glueing the pieces back together using a gold adhesive, thereby exhibiting its scars, and allowing its ‘brokenness’ to become its most beautiful quality.

In all objects we can take this approach by showcasing their imperfections and celebrating pieces that are less obviously beautiful.


A guide to Wabi Sabi

2 Incorporate nature

As we acknowledge the natural environment in Wabi Sabi practices, it goes without saying that the elements in your home should be reflective and derivative of nature. 

Wood, clay, linen, stone, bamboo, rattan, and plants are all materials that will help you better connect with Mother Earth from your living space, and accept the transient nature of life.

Incorporating unnatural elements into your living space, such as metal, plastic and glass, will have an adverse affect.

Additionally, work to reduce the artificial lighting in your home. You can do this by warmly lighting your space with candles or salt lamps, or during the day allowing the sun to filter through and make shapes through shadows on your walls.

When we are better connected to nature, we are better connected to ourselves.

Shop our range of nature inspired homewares here.

3 Choose your tone

Choose a colour palette that is reflective of nature - think quiet, calm and neutral tones.

Steer clear of crisp, clean or shiny surfaces, and instead choose to favour rough edges, grainy textures and curved lines instead.

A guide to Wabi Sabi

4 Simplify

In continuing to abandon a need for perfection, simplifying your possessions will provide an opportunity for you to harness a state of simplicity and presence.

Get rid of the unnecessary, and make your space a sanctuary, a place to relax and connect, rather than a room for storing goods.

5 Acknowledge your true self

Your home is more than just a place to sleep, eat and house your possessions. It’s your personal sanctuary and a reflection of who you are. It should tell the story of where you’ve been, and how you’ve gotten here.

On that notion, ensure your home is a collection of items that mean something to you, not just ones that meet your desired design aesthetic.

Your home should be the closest reflection of who you are, and a place for you to feel most at home.

A guide to Wabi Sabi

6 Incorporate rituals

At Terra Cruda, we fiercely believe in finding a blend between visual beauty and energetic balance when it comes to the home.

What that means is that your home shouldn’t just look good, it should feel good. Improving the energy in your home can be done by practising rituals that connect you with your space, cleanse the energy, purify the air and improve your connection to yourself, and your loved ones.Many like to practise the art of saging, or clearing the energy through the smoke of palo santo (as pictured).

Inviting objects such as crystals and salt lamps into the home, as well as adopting the basic principles of Feng Shui will help to ensure energy channels stay clear in your home and invite health and prosperity into your life. 

Inviting it into your life

In today’s Japan, Wabi Sabi is revered as ‘wisdom in natural simplicity’ and, whilst most commonly used as an approach to home styling, it is also an invitation for connection, gratitude and acceptance in our approach to living.

The notion of perfection is not only unattainable but unrealistic. Given we are a counterpart of nature, it goes to say that we are continually growing, changing and/or adapting to our environments which means there is always an element of incompleteness about us, which is essentially the antonym to perfection.

Wabi Sabi is a concept that affords us relief from the unrealistic pursuits of perfection. It’s an invitation to slow down, be present and release judgement from ourselves, from others and from our environment. It is complete acceptance for the way things are.

Philosophically speaking, Wabi Sabi is the celebration of beauty in all that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.

In practise, it is an opportunity to deeply connect to nature, celebrate the beauty that constantly surrounds us, and live a simpler, more meaningful life.

A guide to Wabi Sabi

[Image from Pinterest]

For more ideas, see our full collection of Wabi Sabi homewares here.

- Terra Cruda

Back to blog
1 of 3