Beauty in simplicity: what is wabi-sabi style and how to apply it in the interior

If you no longer want to chase trends and strive for conscious consumption, take a closer look at the style of wabi-sabi. This is not just a fashionable way to decorate the interior, but an ancient Japanese philosophy that teaches you to appreciate beauty in its simplicity and naturalness.

All about wabi-sabi style

Style Features
Basic principles
— Less is better
— Natural materials
— Harmony of imperfection
– natural colors
— Thoughtful details
— Soft light
— Hidden storage
Decoration of different rooms
— Living room
— Bedroom
— Kitchen
— Bathroom

Style Features

The Japanese, like the Danes (the founders of hygge), are not characterized by a love of luxury and a demonstration of high incomes. Modesty in everything is the main advantage of both a person and his home, and the true beauty of things lies in their functionality.

It is possible to decompose the style of wabi-sabi into its components, but even this will not help to accurately describe its true meaning. The philosophy itself, which subsequently formed a certain way of designing living space, originated in Japan in the 15th century, and its roots go back to Shintoism (traditional religion).

The entire understanding of aesthetics for the Japanese is based on four concepts: wabi, sabi, shibui and yugen. We are interested in the first two. «Wabi» means the absence of vulgarity, pretentiousness and excess. «Sabi» is beauty in its natural manifestations: small flaws, time imprints and traces of a lived life (applicable to both people and inanimate objects). Over time, these two components merged into one word, and then into a philosophical direction.

Today, wabi-sabi design can be considered both an interior style and a lifestyle principle that naturally affects how your home looks. This direction is suitable for lovers of oriental culture, connoisseurs of simple forms and natural materials. And also for those who are tired of a large number of things around them, want to live in order and minimalism.

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Basic principles

To create wabi-sabi interior, you need to follow certain rules.

Less is better

Less is more is the main postulate of this style. If you have ever seen a traditional Japanese house from the inside, you may have noticed that it has a lot of free space. And the existing furniture is almost invisible: compact forms, simple lines and neutral colors “dissolve” it in the surrounding space.

For the Eastern mentality, there is nothing wrong with the presence of empty spaces — the house should have only what is needed. There is nothing beautiful about mindlessly filling rooms with furniture or empty surfaces with knick-knacks.

There are three main principles when choosing any interior elements.

  1. Ergonomics.
  2. Functionality.
  3. Simplicity.

natural materials

Why, then, apartments and houses in this style do not seem uncomfortable, unfinished, abandoned? The secret is in natural materials and textures. Comfort and coziness is created due to the quality, not the quantity of things.

Wood, stone, clay, linen, wool, cotton, rattan, rice paper, straw, bamboo — use in decorating the space as many natural textures as possible and mix them as you like.

Harmony of imperfection

Another important principle, uncharacteristic of Western consciousness, is the natural manifestations of beauty. Rust, chips, scratches, faded paint: for the Japanese, these are not flaws that require urgent repair or replacement of things, but manifestations of life. They symbolize the passage of time, which tangibly remains on the objects of the material world, as well as the departure from the endless race for an unattainable ideal.

Allowing imperfect things to exist in a living space means allowing yourself to slow down, exhale and enjoy the beauty of the moment. Which, by the way, is fleeting, and that is why the traces left by it are so valuable.

But it is important to understand the difference between natural imperfections and rubbish. The oriental interior does not tolerate clutter and dirt, but uneven lines, cracks, chips, rough surfaces, scuffs have the right to life.

natural colors

In a typical wabi-sabi palette, you will not find flashy colors and acid shades. Everything is again peeped from nature: shades of brown, gray, beige, blue and green are intertwined and combined with each other.

Depending on the illumination of the room and personal preferences, the range can be diluted with white or black. If you want more warmth, use terracotta, copper, amber tones. Emerald, coniferous, indigo, graphite and the color of a stormy sky will add depth to the interior.

If you do not know how to assemble a palette, just look out the window — nature will tell you everything. For the Japanese, it is important that the interior design of the house is in harmony with the environment and even reflects the current season. Therefore, the best option is a neutral base, which can be given different shades with the help of textiles and a few decor. and moods.

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Thoughtful details

By the way, about decorative elements. Since wabi-sabi is a colleague of minimalism, as such, there are either no accessories in the interior at all, or there is a minimal amount. Jewelry should be in harmony with the rest of the elements in style and color. But at the same time, the Japanese do not like strict canons of the arrangement of objects, but allow asymmetry.

As a decor in this style, it is preferable to use functional things.

  • beautiful pottery (vases, bowls, bowls, plates, cups).
  • Decorative ware in oriental style.
  • Pictures or posters in simple frames.
  • Mirrors and light fixtures.
  • Fans and chopsticks.
  • Any textile that is pleasant to the touch.
  • Wicker baskets, rugs and lampshades.

Soft light

In Japanese philosophy, it is more important how the dwelling is illuminated by the moon, and not by the bright sun. That is why a well-thought-out lighting system is important for the direction (especially in such dark rooms as a hallway or a bathroom), which will necessarily include multi-level, as well as diffused light. It is better to choose lamps with lampshades, and avoid dazzling light bulbs in point built-in lighting.

Equally important is the presence of natural light. The more windows the better. If the openings are small, they should be opened as much as possible by hanging light linen curtains and transparent tulle instead of heavy impenetrable curtains. Or — light bamboo blinds.

hidden storage

As mentioned above, this style does not accept clutter. Therefore, closed storage systems are preferred, in which not only clothes, dishes and other small things are hidden, but also equipment.

Floor-to-ceiling built-in wardrobes are located in the hallway and bedroom. Doors are suitable with inconspicuous handles or on a push mechanism to maintain the visual uniformity of the surface. There should be as few open shelving and shelves as possible, and only thoughtful decor should be placed on them.

Wabi-sabi style in the interior different rooms

Living room

When designing a living room, be guided by 4 basic rules.

  • The layout should be as open as possible. The zones are separated from each other not by walls or partitions, but by light screens.
  • Only the necessary furniture. A sofa group and a table are usually enough. If there is not enough space in other rooms, you can place a storage system in the hall by adding 1-2 open shelves for decoration.
  • Compensate for the neutral palette and rough furniture shapes with textiles made from natural fabrics.
  • It is better to make the ceiling light, the floor — 2-3 tones darker finishes. Walls can be wallpapered, painted or plastered under stone, brick, concrete.

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Among all rooms, it is in the bedroom that the aesthetics of wabi-sabi fits most simply and naturally. The main task of the room is to be cozy, concise, set up for relaxation. Therefore, a natural muted palette looks especially good here in combination with tactilely pleasant textiles.

If the windows face south, instead of thick curtains to the floor, you can choose light impenetrable roller blinds or Roman blinds, which will be lowered only during sleep.


The kitchen is dominated by practicality and ergonomics. Lacquered wood set, textured stone countertop, closed storage systems, built-in appliances. The apron can be tiled with imitation stone, concrete or wood. It is permissible to make an open shelf where beautiful ceramic dishes will stand. But basically everything should be hidden in drawers and lockers.

If the kitchen is supposed to have a dining area, pay attention to solid wood tables. And above them, place lamps in lampshades made of metal or plant material (rattan, vines, straw).


Because this style loves space, it’s perfect for large bathrooms where there’s room for a freestanding bathtub and a home spa area with oriental-style stools, padded rug, and baskets.

In a city apartment, the area of ​​​​bathrooms is usually small, so when decorating, it is enough to follow the general rules: more natural materials, natural colors, minimalism in everything. It is advisable to hide all appliances (water heater, washing machine, dryer) in closed storage systems.

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