Those of us interested in making things last also often appreciate things that have been around a while. We also enjoy things that are handmade and things that are natural. Even if those things are imperfect. Sometimes especially if those things are imperfect. And that’s what wabi-sabi is all about.
Wabi-sabi is an elusive term. When it comes to homes, it’s not exactly a décor, though it does promote a simple, unpretentious beauty in our surroundings. “Wabi” refers to harmony and tranquility, while “sabi” refers to an appreciation of the aging of things. It literally means “the bloom of time.”
In Simply Imperfect (2011 New Society Publishers), Robyn Griggs Lawrence takes us through principles and examples of wabi-sabi in the home, from crafting and cleanliness to silence and solitude, imperfection, simplicity, and hospitality. It’s a modest way of living, one that appreciates the beauty and function of objects over shiny newness.
In addition to its exploration of the philosophy of wabi-sabi living, Robyn gives us plenty of actionable, sometimes very specific advice. One chapter includes a rundown of wood for reclaiming planks, another provides tips for being a non-consumer. There are sections on soundproofing your home and choosing quieter appliances, ingredients for a wabi-sabi cleaning cupboard, and a chart on what wabi-sabi is (vintage finds and natural light) and what it isn’t (designer products and fluorescents).
If you’re looking for inspiration for simplifying your home and creating a more natural, mindful environment, I recommend Simply Imperfect. The exact definition might still elude you. But by the end of the book I promise you’ll have an appreciation for the wabi-sabi approach.
You might also like: Essential Home Repairs Anyone Can Do