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Design

Ryann’s Personal Deep Dive Into Wabi Sabi + 5 Ways To Get The Look In Your Home

A few months ago, I started what I am now calling my design identity crisis. I am usually drawn to vintage, moody, old-world, dark academia inspired interiors. My whole living and dining room design is based on that fact. But what happens when there are neutral, minimalist interiors that stir something in me, making me reconsider the deep moody green walls in my apartment?? It seems I am being confronted by my attraction to two opposing styles, causing me to rethink my whole design aesthetic.

It all started when my fiancé Rocky and I were looking for bedroom inspiration. We were both very drawn to an aesthetic we’ve been calling “Monastery chic” and through searching for that inspiration Rocky came across wabi sabi design. I had heard of wabi sabi before but had never researched what it really is. Rocky is a quarter Japanese so he resonated with this philosophy right away, and when he showed me photos I was immediately hooked. We both share an admiration for Japanese art and culture so learning more about wabi sabi felt natural. Pretty quickly, our research into it turned into a deep appreciation and desire for a wabi sabi-inspired home (and life).

The kick is our current design aesthetic is quite the opposite. We have dark green walls, a huge gallery wall, books stacked from floor to ceiling, and collected items on every surface. In short, we aren’t minimalists. We both like decorating with a lot of things. But when wabi sabi crossed our radar we both felt extremely drawn to the philosophy, style, and practice of it.

design by boris vervoordt | photo by jean-pierre gabriel | via house and garden

After some introspection, we came to the conclusion that we can’t scrap everything we already have and replace it with a wabi-sabi design. In fact, that would go against a lot of the tenets of the philosophy itself. Instead, we realized we can have a mindful wabi-sabi mindset, apply it to parts of our home, and still accept the things we already have in our home.

If you want to learn more about the history of wabi sabi as we did, just know you will have to practice patience because its history is hard to track down. According to Wabi Sabi – The Japanese Art Of Impermanence (a book I highly recommend on the subject), “wabi sabi as a product of the Zen mind, can find its earliest roots in Zen’s forerunner, Taoism” but the exact time it popped up is nearly impossible to pinpoint. The closest timeline is during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) which is when art started to show some of the ideals of wabi sabi. But no matter the exact timeline, there is no doubt that it has influenced art and design for centuries.

Speaking from an American, English-speaking point of view, wabi sabi can be an elusive, mysterious concept because it has no clear translation. Again, it’s ironic because the whole idea is to embrace imperfection. So with that in mind, I can tell you that wabi roughly translates to “things that are fresh and simple” and sabi is defined as “things whose beauty stems from age” but the truth is, those are imperfect translations.

From a design perspective, one definition of wabi sabi is “a Japanese aesthetic concept that finds beauty and serenity in objects, landscapes, designs, etc., that are simple, imperfect, and impermanent.” This definition is easy to comprehend but can be hard to put into practice. Can we find beauty in anything and call it wabi sabi? Maybe, but the trick I’ve found is knowing that it might look slightly different to everyone. It’s an idea, not a tangible thing you can point to. You can look at a room or photo and feel like it’s wabi sabi-inspired but it might be hard to articulate why. Of course there are certain elements that speak to it, but they are not uniquely wabi sabi in nature. There is no rule book on how to achieve a wabi sabi design because the point is to create something unique, personal, tranquil, and imperfect.

But don’t worry, we don’t have to guess or go at it blindly. To guide us, there are 7 principles of wabi sabi:

1. Kanso – Simplicity
2. Funkinsei -Asymmetry
3. Shibumi – Beauty In The Understated
4. Shizen – Naturalness
5. Yugen – Subtle Grace
6. Datsuzoku – Freedom from habits
7. Seijaku – Tranquility

To apply these terms to design isn’t futile, it just might take thoughtful practice. Like I said, a key pillar of wabi sabi is embracing imperfection so if you want to attempt this style, there won’t be a perfect “How To” to get you there. So am I attempting to do the impossible by providing tips on how to get this look in your home? Yeah, pretty much. But since I am trying to apply it in my own home and life, I’m willing to share a few things I’ve found useful.

1. Go For Textured Walls

design by andrew trotter and gianni emiliani | photo by salva lopez | via yatzer

Step one is live in a very very old building, preferably an old abandoned castle if you can swing it.

Oh wait, you’re not Axel Vervdoodt?? Okay then, well, you can also use different wall finishes to add texture to your walls. Limewash, heavy plaster, basic plaster, or Venetian plaster can create an aged, imperfect look.

Highlighting anything old or aging is common (and necessary) with a wabi sabi-inspired design. Have peeling walls? Wabi-sabi will have you embracing them! The point is to accept what you have and find the beauty in it. Instead of trying to erase naturally aging elements in your home, try embracing them (as long as it’s safe of course). In our apartment, we have peeling paint and instead of hating it I am learning to embrace the natural deterioration that happens to all things.

design by andrew trotter | photo by salva lopez

Limewash walls are a staple of modern wabi sabi design because it can make plain, uniform walls look textured and antiquated. A rough, uneven surface is welcome in wabi sabi design and actually preferred over a smooth surface. This is a trick I am excited to try in my own home and will report back on how it goes 🙂

2. Find Naturally Tarnished Objects And Furniture

design by andrew trotter and gianni emiliani | photo by salva lopez

Wabi sabi is about impermanence. Nothing stays the same forever so a key component is holding on to objects that have meaning and admiring signs of natural age. Wabi sabi will teach you to hold on to your things for as long as possible instead of replacing them with something new.

If you are going for a wabi sabi-inspired design, avoid shiny, uniform objects and instead look out for naturally aged, organic decor pieces that show the passing of time. A cracked pot or tarnished vase is beautiful, and finding these used objects to decorate your home is also sustainable and good for our earth.

design by andrew trotter and gianni emiliani | photo by salva lopez | via yatzer

Natural wear and tear is meant to be shown according to wabi sabi philosophy. So to achieve the look you should opt for organic materials that show age over time. Wood, clay, brick, and stone will age imperfectly and gracefully. I write this from my wood dining table that I bought used from Facebook Marketplace. It’s over 100 years old and has some new cup rings that I am not proud of but if I had to choose my favorite piece of furniture this would be it. The flaws and age make it unique and (you guessed it) imperfect.

3. Embrace Simplicity

design by soar design studio and architect chen-tien chu | via dezeen

As someone who loves ~things~, this is a hard pill to swallow. But to truly achieve the wabi sabi aesthetic, you need to let go of clutter and rid your home of anything that is not significant or useful to you. Wabi sabi teaches us to detach from material things and focus on tranquility. Unfortunately, there is nothing tranquil about busy or cluttered surfaces (she says to herself).

styled by joseph gardner | photo by anson smart

To embrace wabi sabi you are not required to get rid of all things and live like a monk. Instead, look at what you do have and consider its purpose or importance to you. If it’s useful or meaningful you don’t have to give it up. The point of the simplicity component is to create a sense of peace with your surroundings, which can be hard to do if there is clutter around you.

4. Opt For Earthy, Muted Colors

image via potters house mallorca

Color (or lack thereof) is highly effective in creating peaceful surroundings. Avoid highly saturated colors if you want a wabi sabi look, and instead opt for muted colors you would find in nature.

design by axel vervdoodt | photo by jan liegeois | via the design files

One main quality of this aesthetic is an austere look and feeling. This is where a light moodiness comes into play (and likely where my main attraction to it comes from). Despite many wabi sabi interiors being neutral and minimal, the color palettes associated with this style are often a shade darker than most neutral rooms. Gray, brown, light brown, white, and even black are often present in this style. The darker tones create a lived-in, austere vibe as opposed to a warm, comfortable vibe. This is not to say that wabi sabi interiors can’t be inviting, but they are often a bit rougher around the edges.

5. Lean Into Asymmetry

design by andrew trotter and gianni emiliani | photo by pia riverola | via yatzer

Anything too uniform disrupts the nature of wabi sabi. The point is to embrace imperfections so if a room has all of the above elements but feels very symmetrical, then it won’t be perceived as wabi sabi. In my home, I plan to apply this by having one nightstand instead of two, hanging a small piece of art off-center, and embracing our fiddle leaf tree that has sadly lost 90% of her leaves.

design by louisa grey | photo by rory gardiner | via dezeen

Another way to incorporate asymmetrical lines is with furniture placement. You can arrange your furniture with uneven space in between each piece and this will create an unbalanced yet pleasing look. In the above bathroom, the stool and sink are closer together and the chair is farther away in the corner. This creates asymmetry without doing anything permanent to your floorplan or walls.

As I said before, this is not meant to be a perfect “How To” on wabi sabi design but if you are looking for small ways to incorporate it in your home, I hope these 5 tips help. If you want to learn more about the subject, I loved poring over this book, and I hear this is another great resource on living the wabi sabi-inspired lifestyle.

Thanks for coming along this journey with me, and bearing witness as I unpacked my feelings about this ancient, beautiful, simple yet intoxicating design aesthetic. I may not have articulated it perfectly but that is, dare I say, a great lesson in wabi sabi. xx

Opener Image Credit: Design by Axel Vervoodt | Photo by Jake Curtis

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🥰 Rusty
1 year ago

Clearly, EHD has employed an editor! 👏 The quality of writing has gone up several notches lately!!! Yaaay!🤗 Wabi Sabi is a tad too austere for me. I used to be full on maximalist, but would now sit comfortably in the middle somewhere. Most surfaces (except my two desks) are clutter-free, I keep my house very clean, I make my bed every single day, etc. Yet, I live in a house that’s almost 100 years old and with that comes the odd flaking this or bowed that, nothing is perfectly level or square and that is a key reason I love it! My walls are all brick and all but the bedrooms and bathroom have the original, textured, plastered walls. The rooms without texture never had it in the first place. I’m into the vibe, but austere is cold and clinical to me, so I err on the side of colour and cozy within an aged, imperfect space. Interestingly, a Buddhist Abbot, Ajahn Brahm, tells a story abput how THE most beautiful and revered tree in a forest or garden, is always the one with the twisted, gnarled branches and hollows where a limb has fallen… because these things show… Read more »

Elle
1 year ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Hmm. It should still be ‘tenets’ not ‘tenants’ and ‘poring over’ not ‘pouring over’, and ‘you’re not Axel’ rather than ‘your’. If they are paying someone to proofread posts, those are pretty obvious things and missing a rogue ‘your’ is pretty poor work for a professional. I am guessing they’re just being more careful to spell-check before posting, as these are all things a spell-check wouldn’t catch.

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago
Reply to  Elle

As an ex-English teacher, I hear ya!
However, there’s a marked improvement across the posts, written by different people.
Not sayin’ it’s perfect, but it’s noticably improved.

Christa
1 year ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Well, if you really want to embrace wabi sabi, nothing is perfect, nothing is finished, nothing is permanent… you can accept some grammar and spelling errors with grace.

Lane
1 year ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

I used to proofread at my job. I sucked at it (and don’t typically catch mistakes on this blog), but I was the only one noticing it at work. My suggestion is to install Grammarly. I still had to make the calls what to accept and what not to accept, but it can make that task easier.

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago
Reply to  Lane

Yup…

i liked this post, though i’m not into this VERY austere look. i find the idea of doing anything to “go for the wabi sabi look” kinda funny (ironic funny, not like ha ha funny) because if someone wants to embrace the imperfect, wouldn’t they just not change whatever their current home decor situation is and just accept it for what it is? i’m not poo-pooing any of this post. i just think it’s conceptually interesting and kind of ironic.
so, in my mind, the definition and concept of wabi-sabi is extremely naturally eco-friendly and sustainable without trying to be. and if everyone adopted a wabi-sabi mindset, and not just the aesthetic, we wouldn’t have so much garbage in the world. wabi-sabi sounds like the opposite of throwaway and consumerist culture.
love the wabi-sabi mindset (thrifting, making due with what you have, fixing things that break instead of buying something new, etc.) , but not necessarily this aesthetic interpretation of it, if that makes sense.

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago

Yesss!!!
At a fundamental level, Wabi Sabi is NOT ASPIRATIONAL in any way, shape or form.
True to the concept of impermanence…it.does.not.matter.

Lisa Carnochan
1 year ago

This was my reaction. Wabi-sabi is not amenable to being “injected” into a space;). At least conceptually. One could, however, *allow* it in.

Tarynkay
1 year ago

Right- I can just see the “Wabi Sabi Target Collection”

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago
Reply to  Tarynkay

Whoa! That’s a conflicting image for the mind to hold. Ha!

Reanna
1 year ago

I enjoyed this post! It was informative and personal. Wabi Sabi definitely isn’t my aesthetic, but knowing that helps me better articulate what I DO like!

KB
1 year ago

Hi Ryann, Thank you for sharing your journey. Whoa. I can appreciate how confusing that would be to feel drawn to such a different aesthetic after recently creating your lovely living room. I have been very drawn to shaker-still life. Where everything is so quiet you get drawn into the spirit of what is there and it’s simplicity. I feel like that correlated with my spirituality at the time. Lots of mediation, energy work etc but during COVID I saw a lot of my energy new age peers not being that involved in the worlds problems, using their spirituality to bypass so much. Now I’m embracing the body, physicality, and the world at hand in bigger ways. Maybe by coincidence) my aesthetic has become more layered, colorful, feeling based. I’m digging the eclectic grandma. Who knows maybe I’ll find a happy medium next. I’m always going somewhere..never seem to settle down for good with a philosophy. Best wishes on your journey with Rockey.

Siel
1 year ago

Loved the post! I think it’s a fascinating style.
Have to point out a little spelling mistake though, it’s written ‘Axel Vervoordt’ 😉

mouseface
1 year ago

“Rocky is a quarter Japanese so he resonated with this ancient philosophy right away” is so cringey. It’s like saying if I’m half black I love soul food. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5447748/

Shannon
1 year ago
Reply to  mouseface

Come on! Really? He’s Ryann’s fiancé, I think she has the authority to speak to what resonates with him and why, without being judged. Not to mention the fact that people often feel connected to their cultural/ethnic heritage! Aren’t we supposed to celebrate that? Yes, it may be “cringey” to say that someone is half black so they love soul food, but only because our society has gotten ridiculously over-critical and over-sensitive. Surely there’s a better way to spend our time than over-reacting to harmless statements.

Mina
1 year ago
Reply to  Shannon

Amen, Shannon! Nicely said!

B
1 year ago
Reply to  Shannon

I think it’s more how it was stated that seems a bit questionable. Having ancestors who are part of a certain culture doesn’t make that culture automatically resonate with you. Like, genetically I am 50% Scottish but have lived in the US my entire life and have no family roots in Scotland. I am not somehow inherently drawn to Scottish culture just because of my DNA.

If Ryann’s fiance has some other connection with Japanese culture, it would have been preferable to allude to that rather than genetics.

Shannon
1 year ago
Reply to  B

But maybe Rocky really does feel connected to Wabi Sabi simply because it reminds him of his ethnic heritage. And if so, why shouldn’t Ryann be able to say so? Should she avoid stating a benign fact for fear she may offend someone who doesn’t even know her? And with all due respect B, whether or not you feel a connection to your own heritage is irrelevant.

B
1 year ago
Reply to  Shannon

Again, it is the WAY she said it. She is saying that BECAUSE he has Japanese DNA, that makes him drawn to Japanese culture. I’m sorry, but DNA doesn’t work that way. If you don’t see why it’s not cool to equate genetics with cultural heritage, I really don’t know what to say to you.

I never said that she shouldn’t bring up his connection with Japan. It could have been anything, even if he just enjoys some part of Japanese culture. She should have said that instead and it would have been just fine.

Shannon
1 year ago
Reply to  B

Sometimes, as in Rocky’s case apparently, knowing that you are genetically connected to a certain tradition can, in fact, be enough to create an appreciation for/connection to that tradition. If you still can’t understand this point, I don’t know what to say to you.

Eliot
1 year ago
Reply to  B

It seems as though you believe Ryann is insinuating that Wabi Sabi is somehow hardwired in Rocky’s DNA. Perhaps the references to a quarter or resonance have given you the impression that this is a question of embodiment. But she didn’t actually say anything about DNA or even genetics. She just said that her partner takes a particular interest in this element of his cultural heritage, and why not? This doesn’t mean that you have to eat haggis or wear tartan. You are free to embrace or disregard the culture of your ancestors exactly as you see fit, and so is Rocky, whose relationship to his own cultural antecedents is really none of our business.

Elaine
1 year ago
Reply to  B

Or maybe ‘a quarter Japanese’ simply means that one of Rocky’s grandparents is Japanese! And therefore it’s not just a DNA/genetics connection that Rocky has but a real, lived, connection connection with his Ojisan or Obaachan?

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago
Reply to  B

I’m 100% northwestern european, but my aesthetic is in no way influenced by my DNA.

Sarah
1 year ago
Reply to  mouseface

It’s nice finding things from your culture to appreciate it more. I’m Indian American and reading Indian authors’ novels that talk about where my family has lived in previous generations is a really moving experience. Maybe we can look at this with that generosity.

Kj
1 year ago

I wonder if wabi sabi works in all these example pics because the background rooms are simply stunning. You could remove every stick of anything from them and still be awed by the setting. (Great examples of course, that’s what we are her for.) How does that translate to a standard suburban home or average apartment rental without looking just “broke person waiting for paycheck to buy furniture?” Does anyone have any examples of wabi sabi in the type of setting that most people actually live in?

Susan
1 year ago
Reply to  Kj

Ha! “Broke person waiting to buy furniture”
I also wondered how it would apply to my post war bungalow setting. But the philosophy behind it does make sense to me

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago
Reply to  Kj

Yes.🤣

Deborah
1 year ago
Reply to  Kj

Good point Kj, –> “broke person waiting for paycheck to buy furniture?” Lol! I think the wabi sabi aesthetic as decor does have to have a beautiful, “decaying” interior framework either naturally or created, plus very intentional items that have the wabi sabi spirit making up the decor. So your question about a standard suburban home or rental example is another good point and the only way to achieve that would be to make changes that would actually be against the true, underlining philosophy of wabi sabi of using what is there, making do and consuming less. Achieving both the design aesthetic and underlining philosophy it would be more authentic to move into an older building, like a loft space in the US since we don’t really have the kind of historical buildings that Europe has. A space that already has the wabi sabi philosophy manifested in the structure (safely) and carefully choosing what to repair, replace or embrace that allows the wabi sabi beauty of the room to emanate and add the intentional items for living to it. I hope that Ryann and Rocky will find that kind of space to make a home in that is aligned with… Read more »

Shannon
1 year ago

Beautifully written, Ryann and very informative!

Anon
1 year ago

Ryann, I absolutely love your style and I love you discussing how to incorporate different vibes within a home. It’s interesting thinking about how we can pivot without abandoning what we had/liked before. One thought though is that I know Emily always says “faux” anything aged is a mistake and I tend to agree and I do wonder if faux lime wash and faux aged look to achieve this is also a mistake. I wonder how we can achieve this in letting the homes be what they are, without making them look like they are a different stylus/structure.

Cris S.
1 year ago
Reply to  Anon

When I see the new limewashed walls it makes me think this is the generational response/call back to the sponge washed or Tuscan walls of the 90s, in the same way we see that era back in fashion. It’s a little more sophisticated, but equally hard to get right. I can’t help but think the great photographic techniques that we’ve been introduced to here by some of the great photographers (Sara Tramp!) makes it look more natural/better than in person, where it may, in the hands of non-professionals and in rentals and new build homes, just look like dirty walls.

As for the wabi-sabi look (not the idea behind it) I love the comment that said that without the great and intentional architecture, it may look like you can’t afford furniture, or in a bedroom a headboard (like a college apartment). Ryann, when you said you’d be implementing it in part by having only one nightstand, I wondered “huh, which of them is going to forgo having a place to put their phone / water glass / chapstick?” 🙂

Lane
1 year ago

I’m not sure who is it for. I sort of get why the principles come from Japan, but the esthetic seems very hard to find there. I’m not a fan. Everything looks washed out or dirty. Maybe some spaces seem brighter and warmer in person?

Kj
1 year ago
Reply to  Lane

Good point. Has anyone watched “Old Enough” on Netflix? It is the cutest “reality” show set in Japan (totally family friendly). https://www.netflix.com/title/81506279 I’ve only watched a few but don’t recall seeing any wabi sabi homes. Of course, the families all have toddlers which probably changes things.

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago
Reply to  Kj

Good points.
Wabi Sabi is fundamentally a way of life based on Buddhist principles, not an aesthetic or aspirational style.
Indeed, it’s quite the opposite when you dig deeper!

I thought Ryann’s take on it as a style (as others have done, too) was well expressed.

Lane
1 year ago
Reply to  Kj

I haven’t seen that show, but I’ve seen various vlogs where hosts visit Japanese homes or businesses and never seen that. I’ve been curious about Japanese design, but not Wabi Sabi. I don’t want to be too harsh in my description so I won’t go into the details. To be fair I haven’t watched Japanese taste makers or life style vlogs. I’m sure the esthetic can be found somewhere,but the average home seems to look a lot different.

B
1 year ago

It does look lovely, but it seems a bit artificial and inauthentic. I guess I think it’s more sustainable to buy a quality used piece with minimal wear that will last me for many years, rather than specifically seeking out pieces that are already worn in a way that design gurus deem artful.

Kristyn
1 year ago

I’m an elementary art teacher. There’s a book in my classroom library about a cat named Wabi Sabi that goes on a journey to understand the meaning of her name. It’s beautifully written and illustrated. Here’s a link to a review if you’re interested.
https://www.themarginalian.org/2010/11/11/wabi-sabi/

Kristyn
1 year ago
Reply to  Kristyn

One more thing-
Have you heard of kintsugi? It’s broken pottery pieced back together and the cracks are sealed with precious metals, usually gold. This art form feels in line with Wabi Sabi.

Donna
1 year ago
Reply to  Kristyn

This is a wonderful recommendation. Thank you!

Ane
1 year ago

I am really drawn to the Andrew Trotter rooms especially the one with the desk and chair it almost looks shaker style in it’s simplicity.
There is nothing like a 100 year old table the sturdiness and quality.

Roberta Davis
1 year ago

I was able to find a lot of books on Japanese design at my library when I was studying interior design (we can search online and have books delivered to local library for pickup). These had gorgeous images and tons on inspiration. Especially the old houses of Kyoto with multiple interior courtyards! Wabi Sabi is just part of the Japanese aesthetic tradition.

Geraldine
1 year ago

It makes me sad that the philosophy of wabi-sabi is being reduced to an aesthetic style, to be consumed, commercialized, and “reduced to a bundle of marketable vibes,” quoting Haley Nahman’s Maybe Baby, the newsletter recommended by Emily just a few days ago. 

I so appreciated that recommendation, because it led me to the work of Terry Nguyen and Geraldine Wharry, who write about how the labeling of trends or aesthetic styles fuels overconsumption.  

Instead of prescriptive guidelines for “getting the look,” it would be wonderful to have a deeper dive into the principles of wabi-sabi (which can be applied to many different aesthetic styles).

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago
Reply to  Geraldine

Yesss!

Remington
1 year ago

I’m stressed for your fiddle leaf fig, LOL

1 year ago

Such a beautiful exploration and beautiful post, Ryann! I’m a minimalist in style and life and resonate deeply with the images here and what they evoke beyond furnishings. Thank you for a lovely, impactful read!

Annon
1 year ago

This is a case of the West not understanding the philosophy and appropriating it using their own lens. There is nothing simple or austere or humble about any of these spaces. Mansions full of expensive stuff but lime washed walls is a phony imitation of a rural aesthetic. All style and no substance. Find some humble homes to feature along with the mindset of the dwellers who aren’t chasing a perfection.

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago
Reply to  Annon

I kinda feel that appropriation of a cultural, ancient, way of being, living, existing IS APPROPRIATION when it’s adopted and reduced by western culture in an attempt to look ‘simple’ to counter over-consumption and excess, well… since I’m saying it…to erase how f@#ked-up the planet is due to that excess and over-consumption.

Colleen S
1 year ago

The Song Dynasty was in China, FYI. There was a lot of cross-cultural influence but just wanted to note China’s influence here–it’s also where Taoism originated (Buddhism was originally from India, Zen Buddhism a school of thought that emerged in China and became a key school form of Buddhism practiced in Japan. I’m a world history teacher and just wanted to add to the learning here.

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago
Reply to  Colleen S

Hallelujah, Colleen!
Thank you for putting it so concisely.

Michelle
1 year ago

I need to know how your walls turn out! Keep us updated, please.

erin
1 year ago

I enjoyed your crash course in wabi-sabi, Ryann. I have a PhD in aesthetics, and as a college professor I enjoy dipping my feet into the vast waterways of aesthetics as a learner and a teacher. It’s easy to reduce any culture’s aesthetic expression into something knowable and consumable–which really is unfortunate but not a new idea. Learning about any unfamiliar aesthetic is a wonderful way to broaden your curiosity–which is never a waste, even if it must be narrow enough for a blog post. Several years ago I added a unit on Japanese aesthetics in a survey class I teach and found much to be admired in Junichiro Tanizaki’s essay, In Praise of Shadows; Leonard Koren’s two books Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers and Wabi-Sabi Further Thoughts; and Soetsu Yanagi’s The Beauty of Everyday Things. I reread In Praise of Shadows at least once a year because it’s mysterious and beautiful. Hopefully some of your readers will find out more about Japanese aesthetics as you have done! Good luck on figuring out how to live with more imperfection and beauty.

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago
Reply to  erin

Erin…You’re a gem!

RuthAnn
1 year ago
Reply to  erin

Such a thoughtful response!

Emie
1 year ago
Reply to  erin

Erin, “I have a PhD in aesthetics” I find this fascinating!!! This has given me an entire new way of looking at the world of “aesthetics” as a field of study. I have always associated it as a “feeling one has” but I see it as much, much more than that now.

EGR
1 year ago

VERVOORDT, not Vervdoodt!

Tamara
1 year ago

How refreshing to read about a style I hadn’t looked into much before… and like all of the posts, I appreciate the varying perspectives to be able create a collected, considered home that suits my own family’s lifestyle and rhythm. The “why’s” and the “how we got here’s” invite the reader into the thought process.

Sarah
1 year ago

We stayed in a gorgeous Wabi Sabi-styled home in Puglia a few years ago. Highly recommended for anyone looking for an Italian holiday: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/19372179

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago
Reply to  Sarah

Maybe it was a Puglian, ancient building with few/austere furnishings and original patinas??🤔

Sona
1 year ago
Reply to  Sarah

Sarah, that house is dreamy! I could hang out there!

emily jane
1 year ago

Me too Ryann! I am also having a ‘Monastery Chic’ moment in the bedroom even though it’s ‘Eccentric Bohemian Granny + English Brew Pub’ just about everywhere else in my home. In my case, the Hot PINK bedspread that mimics the dreamy pooling of the fabric in the above bedroom examples becomes the thread that connects the seemingly disparate design styles in my home. I am certain you and Rocky will find the thread that connects all of your spaces even if they each embrace a seemingly ‘at odds’ design aesthetic. I loved your MOTO posts -for both the writing AND the yummy reveal images!- and am very much looking forward to following along on this journey as well. PS. Not sure if you noticed but my ‘eccentric granny’ is Bohemian rather than English and after skimming the comments (I am too faint of heart to read them word-for-word as I already want to throw my body in front of Ryann and Rocky as a protective barrier..!) I’m wondering if I should stipulate that although Bohemia as a country ceased to exist in 1918, my ancestors where alive when it was still a country so I am actually part Bohemian… Read more »

emily jane
1 year ago
Reply to  emily jane

by which I mean (in case I was not as clear as I wish I was -as is often the case): One does not need an ancestral connection to a design style to be drawn to it BUT if one is in fact ancestrally connected to an aesthetic, articulating this fact is Perfectly FINE!

Christa
1 year ago

I have been very tuned in to Wabi Sabi coming from a background of environmentalism and concerns about the culture of consumerism. In my last home (that’s pictured in Emily’s book! The New Design Rules) I made several design choices that allowed the house to exist as she was. I removed the old tile and carpet and had the concrete floors polished and sealed without trying to disguise the lines made by the tile squares, or the cut ends of the copper pipes from where I moved the kitchen sink. I sanded the open ceiling and the wood trim around the windows, and let the patches and repairs to those elements remain visible. Wabi Sabi is the art of accepting that all things become imperfect, wear away and disappear. Nothing is perfect, nothing is permanent, nothing is finished. It’s all in motion across time.

emily jane
1 year ago
Reply to  Christa

wow, just hearing your description was calming… will be looking for you in my The New Design Rules : )

Christie J Priem
1 year ago

I love any discussion about melding more than one “style” into something that really feels personal and one-of-a-kind! Well-written and well thought-out.

Emily S
1 year ago

Super pumped to see Wabi Sabi discussed!! I’m not sure that the images selected here really resonate with my idea of Wabi Sabi, but I enjoyed reading your point of view and appreciate your struggles(every surface of my house is covered with “stuff”). In our house it’s a bit more of our approach/reflection to our DIY efforts. When things aren’t 100% perfect… sometimes enjoying the imperfections and that fact that things are handmade can bring some additional joy. Without Wabi Sabi I’d look at the imperfections as glaring issues. In additional to Old Enough, I find NHK Japan TV App(usually on the TV or Roku – it’s free) as great inspiration for all things Japanese. There’s a bounty of reuse, interior, arch, and garden shows you can watch at any time.