Wabi sabi: reframing imperfection

Wabi sabi stairs, Joy Overstreet interior design, Vancouver WAVery roughly translated, the Japanese terms “wabi” and “sabi” together mean the beauty of the imperfect, the unpolished, the rustic – a natural state that takes into consideration the effects of time’s passage on everything.

In my work (and personal life) the question is this: when is something so imperfect, unpolished, well-worn, that it should be tossed rather than treasured? The beloved French soup bowl (bought in France decades ago) now quite chipped but still beautiful and functional. The cozy fleece bathrobe that has served me for maybe ten years. The stairs in my new (old) house which have layers of paint and carpet glue adhering to the wood, revealed when I tore out the funky carpeting.

One the one hand, the unfinished stairs have a lot of wabi sabi charm – they have interesting patterns of glue and paint that speak of decades of history and the families who lived here before me.

On the other hand, the rest of the house is looking pretty good and the stairs look like I ran out of money and patience. Both are true… but I’m going to refurbish them with sweat labor. Scraping one stair every few days. Some colorful paint on the step part and maybe patterned wallpaper on the risers…

Don’t hold your breath for the “After” pix…

Oh, and I’m keeping the bowl and the robe.

This entry was posted in Before and After: Homes and Workspaces, Express yourself: Decor, It's all feng shui and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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