I don’t know quite when it started, but a family friend started saying “wabi-sabi” one summer here at the cottage.  It has become a mantra of sorts for this little cottage life.

What does it mean? Well, if you asked me, I would say it means beauty in imperfection and appreciation of nature.  You can read more about it here.

Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature….It’s simple, slow, and uncluttered-and it reveres authenticity above all.

It has become a pretty popular term for us here, with family and friends. The cottage life seems to really revel in the imperfect and, of course, nature. We enjoy the great outdoors daily. There is a lot of imperfection, from sloping floors and crooked doorways to us totally and shockingly imperfect people who grace this summer home.

Wabi-sabi is all about embracing imperfection, enjoying nature, seeing the beauty in flaws. Whether it is serving dinner to guests on chipped plates or tripping over loose floor boards, that is life. Trying to be perfect and make the environment around you perfect is a losing battle. Enjoy the way a creaky door sounds, forgive mistakes and stop criticizing, take in the beauty of nature. Stand in the rain.

True beauty comes from small things, simple things, moments with family or friends where you love each other despite flaws, enjoy dinner on a time-worn table, and laugh that the door frames are crooked, all while rain is falling outside on a summer day. Those things are authentic. Beauty is all around if you open yourself up to seeing it.


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  1. A+! And isn’t the best thing about family vacation houses the mismatching dishware and wonky flooring? It’s like the stage is set for imperfection, and sets everyone at ease right away. I wonder what life would be like if we treated our homes like vacation houses…

  2. Lovely post! The true beauty of living is usually right in front of us!
    Happy day,

  3. Ok I’m going to throw this around and see if it will catch fire here at castle de austria…It might be as popular as watdawat?

  4. It’s a popular asian dish here!
    Sounds delicious doesn’t it?

  5. Thanks — I needed a bit of perspective today! This just hit the spot!

  6. I think the imperfections are what give us and the places where we live personality. Like the scar right below the eyebrow from when you fell off that horse, and the lines drawn on the kitchen wall where you measure your children’s height every year. Who wants to live in a museum? I want a house with personality. Lovely post Emily.

  7. toiko anderson says:

    Wabi-Sabi is not the result of laziness or abandonment. Wabi-sabi is the way to perfect the perfectionism. Wabi-sabi is in the level higher than the perfectionism.
    While it sounds convenient to those who don’t like the house keeping, wabi-sabi is not the way to get away the pressure from being good house keeper. It is still aesthetic, the art and philosophy. If you do not appreciate it will add to your junk as well as those you have piled up in the garage already. It is the art to be loved and appreciated.

  8. Thank you for your input about Wabi-Sabi, Toiko! Your last line, “it is the art to be loved and appreciated” describes how I view it quite well. I don’t use it, nor do I know others who use it as an excuse to be lazy or abandon. I use it as a way to appreciate time-worn furniture and embrace the things around my home that are not polished and shiny and new. It isn’t an excuse to pile up junk, I haven’t used it that way in my life or described it that way here. I think embracing imperfection, letting the little things go and relishing the beauty of nature and life around us is the best way to reach wabi-sabi. Of course, as all things are, it’s personal. I am glad you’ve described it well here and how it works for you in your life!


  1. [...] This Life inspired me with the idea of wabi-sabi. But I’ll let Emily explain it… You might also check out her post on how Discontentment [...]

  2. [...] My dad, brother, hubby and a couple friends did the huge project that spanned a couple years. There is all sorts of unique, fabulous, authentic cottage charm around this place. I am not going to share the kitchen and living room and bedrooms as those are just what they are. I am going to share the cute unique things that make this place so imperfectly perfect. [...]

  3. [...] Last year, I wrote about the concept of wabi-sabi. [...]