Wabi-Sabi: Embracing Imperfection

As a follow up to our post about Hygge, the Danish concept of creating joy and coziness in life’s everyday moments, we wanted to talk about the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi and how it relates to interior design and everyday life.

At its core, Wabi-Sabi is the concept of accepting imperfection. Roughly translated, Wabi means rustic simplicity or understated elegance and Sabi means taking pleasure in the imperfect. It believes that beauty is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. Its roots come from the Japanese Tea Ceremony, which is a ritual of purity and simplicity, in which the handmade bowls and utensils that are used are often irregularly shaped and worn due to use. These items are celebrated for their beauty, which comes from their deliberate imperfections and their emotional significance.

As recovering perfectionists (okay, we may be ‘in recovery’), Kirsten and I are constantly reminding each other ‘not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good’. This phrase has actually helped us immensely by giving us permission to put things out that may not be ‘perfect’ in our minds (whatever that might be!), but it moves the process along while allowing us to make improvements and tweaks over time, or sometimes just accepting it as it is.

This aesthetic is also making its way into home design, by embracing the lived-in and weathered. It is a move away from the impractical sleek images that we are bombarded with on social media, to an aesthetic that is more functional and livable.

It’s a long awaited invitation to stray from convention and expectation and instead celebrate individuality and comfort.

Dayna Isom Johnson, Canadian Living

It is also a celebration of sentimentality, embracing items whose beauty comes from their meaning rather than their austere beauty. This could mean a weathered armchair that was a family heirloom or a piece of ceramic whose beauty comes from its uniqueness and the story that it tells. It also encourages us to choose materials that weather beautifully over time such as wood, stone and metal and to choose colours that are a reflection of those seen in nature. In this way it very much aligns with the concepts behind Hygge, in the way that it promotes natural elements, colours and simplicity, and in its belief that every object in your home should be beautiful, useful or both.


Wabi-Sabi is the antithesis to big box stores, fast fashion and mass consumption. At West Side Storeys we like to call ourselves the Mom & Pop shop in the big box world of real estate, and Wabi-Sabi embraces a lot of what we believe in and strive for – quality over quantity, true connection with our clients, relationship building, the importance of community, shopping local, waste reduction and an appreciation for the uniqueness and history of the older homes that we buy and sell.

In the end, there really is no such thing as perfection, whether it be in design, houses, or let’s face it, life. So isn’t the pursuit of perfection inevitably a path to unhappiness and dissatisfaction? Wabi-sabi shifts this focus to one of gratitude and appreciation for what we already have, rather than the pursuit of the next shiny new thing. This powerful shift in perspective can help us to feel more peaceful and content in the current moment and improve our quality of life.

Why not try to embrace imperfection and maybe even take it a step further and seek it out? A good exercise is to purposely choose items with obvious flaws and love and cherish them for those flaws, not despite of them. By embracing an attitude of Wabi-Sabi, you allow your home to become a true reflection of who you are and perhaps this shift in attitude will lead to an acceptance and celebration of the imperfection in all aspects of our lives….wrinkles and all 😉

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