“How can we learn to embrace the imperfect within our homes while still enjoying the experience of living in them?” STYLE: The Art of Creating a Beautiful Home, a book by Natalie Walton.

In this week’s In Focus feature on The Journal, we explore the ancient Japanese lifestyle and aesthetic: Wabi-sabi. 

In a world that is riddled with stress, fast-paced living, unrealistic pursuits of perfection, and a damaging affliction with materialism, this ancient Japanese way of life might just be for you. 

By definition, Wabi-sabi can be described as a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. It’s the notion of appreciating beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete" in nature. 

When you look at them individually, wabi and sabi are two separate concepts:

  • Wabi is about recognising beauty in the everyday, in its complete simplicity. It invites us to let go of materialism and the desire of perfection and live more authentically and humbly, in line with our true selves. 
  • Sabi relates to the passage of time, the way all things grow, and age, and how it can manifest itself beautifully in objects. 

The richness of wisdom that wabi-sabi can provide us with has never been more relevant in the world that we’re living in today. With benefits for both your home and your life - here are four ways your can incorporate the Wabi-sabi lifestyle into your day-to-day:

1. Focus on the necessary

Simplicity is at the heart of Wabi-sabi – when we live with less, we can live more carefree. We don’t have to be beholden to our possessions. What you choose to have in your home defines how you want to live your life. By stripping everything back and only living with things that are necessary; that serve a purpose – it leaves space to find poetry in what remains and more warmth and richness in our interactions with life. 

Look around your space now – are there things that don’t really need to be there? Are there objects that no longer serve you or bring you joy? Wabi-sabi encourages you to let these things go – to make way for the richness of other forms into your life.

2. Opt for ‘resolve’ rather than finish

It’s so easy to get caught up with wanting our home or lives to be perfect. But...

When we focus on an unachievable level of excellence it can really hold us back from actually living our lives.

This can show up in different ways for each person – whether it be cleanliness around your home, making the perfect meal when entertaining, wearing the best outfit or being organised in every facet of your life, all the time. But these standards are unrealistic, they stop us from completely engaging in the now, and being completely present in our daily lives.

When you opt to live in the wabi-sabi way of life, you’ll eventually learn to embrace these imperfections. You lean into transience, that life is so fleeting and our energy is best served indulging in everything life has to offer rather than striving for unattainable perfectionism.

3. Embrace natural materials

Embracing materials that are inspired by nature. Wabi-sabi living is more inclined to appreciate unique solutions rather than a one-size-fits-all mentality. This way of living embraces: 


Next time you welcome new things into your home – really consider whether they could fall into this bucket of perfectly imperfect. Can you connect with who has made them or how they have been made?

3. Welcome the perfectly imperfect

Beautifully expressed by Leonard Koren, a prolific student of Japanese culture, specifically Wabi-sabi:

It’s a way we can appreciate imperfect, impermanent and incomplete, never finished nature of beauty and life. Wabi-sabi is the beauty of things, modest and humble.”

Embracing our homes as a living form can do wonders to help accept the imperfect. Our homes go through so much – just like the life, growth and decay of nature. They’re renovated, lived in, worn and used with love and eventually someone will come along and give them new life once again. But this process, and accepting the stains, chipped paint and wall marks along the way all lend themselves to the Wabi-sabi way of living.