Isn’t it beautiful how the most attention-grabbing art is often imperfect and raw? Much like how we find beauty in imperfection, there are even schools of thought centred around it. Out of this appreciation for things as they are, arise styles like wabi-sabi interior design that embrace the state of being. 

So, what is wabi-sabi design all about then? To give you an idea of the many forms this design style can take on, we’ve compiled a list of Livspace homes that are inspired by it. Join us as we take a tour of everything the wabi-sabi style has to offer.

But First, What Is Wabi-Sabi Interior Design?

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Wabi-sabi interior design is not just a decor style, it is a way of living

This Japanese interior design style appreciates natural and simple dwellings that embrace the concept of time — with its effects. Many find it hard to emulate the wabi-sabi style as it is more instinct-based rather than following a checklist. However, we can make it real simple for you.

Remember three basic rules of wabi-sabi interior design: find beauty in imperfection, embellish your home with what you have, and wear-and-tear helps add character and a personal touch.

The individual decor items used in wabi-sabi interior design, from paintings to decorative pieces speak of nostalgia and history, and are things you connect with.

Why Is Wabi-Sabi Interior Design in Singapore So Popular?

Minimalist and Scandinavian interiors have long been popular in Singapore. So, if you think about it, the wabi-sabi style has a lot in common with them. With a focus on uncluttered, wooden-accents and natural elements, it’s easy to spot an overlap between wabi-sabi interior design in Singapore and the other popular styles. Being an easy-to-incorporate design style, it’s no surprise that Singaporean homes love to embrace it!

Here’s What You Can Expect the Wabi-Sabi Style to Look Like at Home:

#1: Every Day’s a Staycation at This Bishan Flat

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Antique furniture adds just the right element of nostalgia to your space

Since wabi-sabi interior design is big on embracing nostalgic artefacts in design, go for antique furniture to recreate it. This stunning home in Bishan does just that with its calming vacay vibes and ultra cosy interiors. Use materials like rattan, cane, and wood to add to the natural element of wabi-sabi design.

#2: This 4-Room HDB at Jalan Membina Teaches You How to Play With Different Textures

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Balance out textures in different rooms with visually different materials

Besides using natural materials, you can also play with leather and warm shades of brown to create a welcoming ambience. This Jalan Membina home does just that by creating visual intrigue in each room. The play on various textures from the leather sofa to the rattan wardrobes helps create continuity in its wabi-sabi interior design.

#3: A Mix of Natural Elements Embrace This Condo at Woodlands

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Materials like stone and wood perfectly balance out this stunning condo

When we consider the use of natural materials, you might think it’s only limited to wood. However, you can also ace your wabi-sabi interior design with cool stone tiles too. This Woodlands condo draws a parallel between the various types of natural materials you can use in wabi-sabi-design. Cool black stone tiles in the bathroom offer a subtle contrast to the wooden wabi-sabi dining room of this condo.

#4: Easy Breezy Bohemian Vibes Decorate This Punggol HDB

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Here’s a cosy home where bohemian design and the wabi-sabi style coincide

If you’re stuck between bohemian styles and wabi-sabi interior design, you don’t necessarily have to compromise. Luckily, there are a few commonalities in design you can take advantage of. Much like this home, you too can opt for wooden accents, earthy palettes, and as many natural decor items as possible.

#5: Japanese-Style Minimalism Makes Its Way to This 4-Room Condo at Kovan Regency

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Soft shades of blue decorate this home, creating a tranquil background for accent pieces

Compared to the other homes that use wabi-sabi interior design, you might have noticed the different take on colour palettes in this condo. While most wabi-sabi style homes do try to incorporate more earthy palettes, you don’t entirely have to miss out on colour either. You can use calming shades of blue to soften and complement natural shades like brown.

#6: The Walls of This Tampines Greenview HDB BTO Bare it All

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Can you spot the similarities between industrial design and the wabi-sabi style?

Theoretically, wabi-sabi interior design and the industrial style can seem like they’re poles apart. However, when you compare them visually, it’s clear to see some common threads in design. Themes like cement walls or flooring, the use of stone and natural materials, and wooden accents are often found across both styles.

#7: Clean, All-White Interiors Take Centre Stage in This 3-Room BTO

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A home with plants and greenery is a home where you will surely feel at peace

Nothing adds a vibrant contrast to all-white interiors like some fresh plants! What’s more, adding greenery to your space is another principle of wabi-sabi interior design that borrows from the use of natural elements.

Similarly, notice the use of repurposed items in this living room such as the upturned bucket as a table. Such furniture elements help tell a story, which is exactly what wabi-sabi interior design attempts to do.

5 Simple Ways to Introduce the Wabi-Sabi Style at Home

#1: Stay as Natural as Possible

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Use natural materials as far as possible

Durability is what the wabi-sabi style teaches us. Opt for lasting materials like wood, leather, wool and clay to embrace nature in all its goodness. If you’ve inherited an old piece of furniture with slight wear and tear, give it a prominent space in any room. The weathered look is sufficient proof that it passed the test of time — a core principle of wabi-sabi interior design.

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A distressed look is what you need to aim for

Wood, stone, leather, clay and more are available in plenty in nature. Although natural, they seem to attract a rather heavy price. An artificial, distressed-finish or ready-made furniture designed to look antique will just go against the principles of wabi-sabi interior design.

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A rustic wabi-sabi style wooden table anchors the open-layout of this dining area

Pared back flooring, raw concrete walls, unpolished wooden surfaces — although surprising the outsiders — all revere authenticity. Wabi-sabi design enthusiasts believe that finishes cover up the originality of the material.

#2: Declutter to Get the Wabi-Sabi Style Right

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A clean look is essential for wabi-sabi style

It’s not about what we can afford but what we need. Minimalism and functionality is the key in wabi-sabi interior design. An open space doesn’t just let you move around, but also doesn’t obstruct light, air or your thought process.

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Embrace the beauty of decluttered spaces

Declutter your home and get rid of anything that you haven’t used in the past six months. Remember that maintenance is usually hard and frustrating so leave out anything that breaks you down physically and emotionally.

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Allow natural light to flow in

Famous collectors are known for their picky taste. Thus, even if your first instinct is to pep up your home with decor, choose wisely. Present to your guests only what swells you with pride rather than a boring collection of trinkets. Add something with nostalgic value to keep you connected and grounded.

#3: Wabi-Sabi Design is Big on Functionality

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Utilise corners and create niche storage spaces

Many find it difficult to balance minimalism and elegant decor. Why not merge the two by adding decor that is useful? Invest in beautiful utilitarian objects so that your home is not filled with things that just occupy space, but also serve a purpose. Wabi-sabi interior design is all about prioritising functionality over everything else.

#4: Go Green or Go Home

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Surround yourself with greenery

Inspire a sense of serenity with nature. Wabi-sabi manifests in heavier tones, like greys, blues and greens that reflect nature and pastel shades like cream, sand, for a muted look from the desert and the beach.

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Pretty planters can add that wabi-sabi style vibe

Let your home break you away from the tiresome social life and cocoon you in a relaxing ambience. Bring in planters and flowers that instil a sense of tranquillity within you.

#5: Open Up the Space to Light and Air

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Get rid of heavy curtains and let light flow in

We know how air and sunlight in a room can transform the way it looks and feels. A wabi-sabi style house stresses on filtered light — to avoid harsh rays and yet flood the room with a sense of warmth. Sheer curtains, mirrors and glossy surfaces work well for this purpose.

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Fill up your home with fragrance

Let in fresh air and add some fragrance to boost your spirits. There is nothing more comforting than walking into a home that triggers a nostalgic memory. Bring in flowers, incense or even simmering water with essential oils to bring spring home. Try to get natural scents rather than something worked up in labs.

Wabi-sabi interior design focuses on giving you a chance to loosen up at home rather than just please the onlookers’ eye. After all, it is all about who resides in it.

How Can Livspace Help you?

We hope you found our ideas useful! If you want your home to be just as beautiful, then look no further. Book an online consultation with Livspace today. Have some comments or suggestions you’d like to share with us? We’re all ears! Feel free to write to us at editor.sg@livspace.com.