Zen and Now: How-to Secrets of the Wabi-Sabi Sisterhood (Part 2)

Take a look at the first WabiSabi post if you missed it to get a rough introduction to the concept.

Wabi-sabi house in Singapore

Wabi-sabi house in Bunga Temususu, Singapore by K2LD Architects.

In this post, I’ll discuss how to integrate the wabi sabi concept into your interior design project, focusing on colour and material choice.

A room’s colour scheme is key to setting the right mood and your wabi sabi home should include a palette taken from nature – muted tones mixed from opposing hues are your best bets as foundational colours. Given that balance and serenity are cornerstones to wabi sabi design, it follows that your wall colours should promote these qualities. When it comes to choosing the best colour, I find the “Garden Wall Test” is a no-fail. Imagine you painted a wall in your garden the colour you’re contemplating. Would your choice blend naturally with the foliage or are we talking a garish contrast? (Back to drawing board if you answered with the latter.) Another tip for those of you in small spaces: painting opposing walls different colors, and incorporating a different shade again for the ceiling can lend a room a more open feeling.

Modern wabi-sabi

A modern wabi sabi inspired interior from Houston,Texas.

Just because you’ve decided to redesign a room following some wabi sabi principles you – and your carbon footprint- don’t have to toss your existing furnishings and start from scratch. Just keep in mind the colour of the furniture you’re repurposing – dark walls will complement lighter neutral furnishings; and of course the opposite is also true too. When you are investing in new furniture and surfaces, the focus should be on organic materials. If you must use an artificial surface, like a Corian countertop or a linoleum floor, try to choose a pattern that appears organic. Wabi sabi isn’t a demanding, tyrannical design philosophy but its reverence for nature really is its defining feature.

Wabi sabi -- crisp, clean, organic

Kitchen from the same house as above. The different tones and patterns represent a beautiful modern take on wabi sabi.

Like your mantra, repeating themes of colour, form and texture both within a room and throughout your home will help create harmony and cohesion in your space. The final touch is to use certain focal elements in key places that stand in contrast to your chosen theme. If you’ve ever wandered through an Asian antique market you probably noted that black is a popular accent colour, used in small pieces of furniture and accessories. The rule here is to add choice vibrant objects – beautiful pieces that are sure to stand out all the more with your neutral backdrop. This is Shibui, the concept of an astringent taste, like an over-ripe persimmon. Within the overlapping muted tones of your interior design, these high contrast pieces offer shibui, and bring everything together to create true wabi sabi style.

organic textures in the bathroom

In the next article, the final in the series, I’ll focus on how to choose and arrange your furniture, art and curios to complete your wabi sabi sanctuary.

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One Response to Zen and Now: How-to Secrets of the Wabi-Sabi Sisterhood (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: Zen and Now: How-to Secrets of the Wabi-Sabi Sisterhood (Part 3) | Greentea Design Blog

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