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The Japanese de-cluttering method that will still keep your home cozy


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These days, the internet seems to be overflowing with organization and decluttering advice. But if you’re not into near-sterile minimalism, much of it can be difficult to relate to and near impossible to implement IRL.

But experts say wabi sabi, a Japanese view that opens its arms to imperfection and uses an object’s age or deteriorated state to reimagine its purpose, can actually help you embrace your home as it is, while also seeing a greater plan for the space at large.

“Wabi sabi is all about the beauty of perfectly imperfect.” —Julie Pointer Adams

“Wabi sabi is all about the beauty of perfectly imperfect. I think that’s the concept to keep in mind because it’s simple but not austere; it’s comfortable,” says Julie Pointer Adams, an entertaining and decorating expert and author of Wabi Sabi Welcome. “A wabi sabi home is a place you want to be; it’s not super sterile or super organized to the point of not feeling homey anymore.”

So if you’re particularly fond of the cozier things in life—wabi sabi may be just be the guide to getting your home in order while still retaining a lived-in feel.

Keep reading for Julie Pointer Adams’ advice on using wabi sabi to clear the clutter and curate the home of your dreams.

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Wabi Sabi unites beauty and utility in decor
Photo: Stocksy/Visual Spectrum

Allow beauty and utility to converge

As you begin to learn your aesthetic, don’t simply retain it for items that you’d label as “home decor,” but rather, allow your design taste to extend to functional items such as storage and cleaning tools as well. By making them equally as beautiful as your other objects, they’ll bring you joy rather forcing you to think about doing a chore.

“This is a way to think about the things that you purchase,” says Pointer. “Ultimately it means that you’ll really need less stuff when you have utilitarian things that also serve the purpose of being beautiful in your home and become decor.”

Pointer gives a couple of examples of products that can be useful and easy on the eyes, including a tasteful basket to hold magazines or elegant kitchen tools that you won’t mind seeing out on the counter if you’re short on storage space. 

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Upcycle your belongings with Wabi Sabi
Photo: Stocksy/Kara Riley

Embrace the wabi sabi take on reuse

Rather than feeding into the cycle of buy-use-repeat, Pointer recommends keeping an eye out for home decor and furniture that will stay with you for a long period of time. “I try to buy things that I know are going to last,” she tells me. But as things become perfectly imperfect, a cracked bowl or a wobbly stool for instance, ideate around ways to fix them so that they have a new beauty and remain useful in your home.

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A splurge purchase is on track with Wabi Sabi
Photo: Stocksy/Visual Spectrum

Invest in things you really love

Is there anything more gratifying than guaranteed two-day (or better-yet same-day) shipping? According to Pointer, waiting out a purchase—especially one that you really want—is totally worth it.

“I think when you decide that you’re going to save up and invest in something you really love and know is going to last a long time, you end up needing fewer things, ultimately,” she says. “It’s a different mindset than a lot of us have, and it’s still a challenge.”

Whether your splurge is a set of luxe silk pajamas or even a new couch, the build up can result in more intention being put into your surroundings.

Still trying to cultivate your home’s aesthetic? Look to Australia for some serious inspiration. If you’re not sure where to begin, start by curating your nightstand.

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