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Does Your Home Feel Imperfect? Congratulations, You’ve Mastered an Ancient Japanese Aesthetic

Kintsugi is the Japanese practice of honoring a treasured object's history by repairing cracks with gold or silver.

When my husband suggested we move the old, blocky, wood veneer table from his bachelor condo to our shared home, I agreed, mainly because I assumed we'd replace it soon enough. Eight years and two kids later, I find it hard to imagine our home without it.


The table is covered with nicks and scratches. It's orange-y brown, and the imperfections show up in light yellow. It comfortably seats the four of us, but we can easily squeeze a couple more chairs in when Grandma and Grandpa come for dinner. For special occasions, it expands to fit 12.

We can barely open the refrigerator door when all 12 seats are full, but that's okay. Limited fridge access has never interfered with the conversations and laughter we've shared with family and friends over Thanksgiving dinners, Passover seders, or birthday parties.

I've grown to love that table and the memories it holds.

Wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection. The ancient aesthetic acknowledges that objects are beautiful, not in spite of signs of wear and tear, but because of them. Wabi-sabi appreciates the way an object's aesthetic appeal develops over time and with repeated use, inextricably linking the concepts of beauty, utility, economy, austerity, and intimacy.

Though I never intended to embrace wabi-sabi (I've only recently become acquainted with the term), I've inadvertently adopted the aesthetic, not just in my kitchen, but throughout my home. I like how my favorite jeans have thinned at the inner thighs. I regularly toss things I don't use. I delight in watching my daughters play with the Cabbage Patch doll my grandmother stood in line for in 1985.

In short, you don't have to hire a decorator or scour the internet for ideas, products, or advice to create a wabi-sabi infused home.

Using the things in your home well, and being intentional with those that you let go of or choose never to have in the first place, will naturally create a home that you love.

Here's how you can put that intention into action.

Wabi-Sabi (わびさび) in Japanese kanji

Parent Co. partnered with Snuggle Me because they know there's beauty in simplicity.

Limit what comes in

According to wabi-sabi, the beauty of a thing is not in its shiny newness. Just the opposite, an object's radiance rests in the meaning and memories it holds, as well as its utility.

To avoid the temptation of filling your home with new and unnecessary items, follow the following steps:

Don't go overboard with your baby registry. Consider the things you really need: a cozy place to snuggle, clothes that fit, and a great carseat.

Keep a running list of things you'd like or need to acquire to help you stay focused and avoid impulse purchases when you're shopping.


Unsubscribe from email newsletters that stay in your inbox unopened or those you immediately delete.


Put catalogs you never shop from straight into your recycle bin or your kids' art bin for future collages.


Self-impose a “waiting period" when shopping online. If you can live an extra day without the items in your shopping cart, you might decide you don't need them at all.

“Kanso" (かんそ) is the Japanese word for “Simplicity"

De-clutter what you already own

Most of us have more stuff than we need or want – things we're saving for some special occasion, items we might need someday, dust-collectors with sentimental value. For one reason or another, most of us have trouble letting our extras go.

Here are a few tips for embarking on a de-cluttering mission:

Start small. In her book “Better Than Before," Gretchen Rubin recommends committing to just 10 minutes of any imposing task. If you're drained when your timer goes off at the 10-minute-mark, give yourself permission to stop for the day. If you feel energized and you have time, keep going.


Toss anything you haven't used in the past year.


Remember that Grandpa wouldn't want you feeling bogged down by the birdfeeder you made together, which is now taking up valuable real estate in an overstuffed closet.


Take pictures of sentimental items before letting them go.


Limit duplicates. If it's hard to be objective about how many scarves (or shoes, hammers, or guitar picks) you actually need, ask yourself how many your neighbor needs, and let that number guide you.

“Kintsukuroi" or “Kintsugi" (きんつぎ) is the Japanese practice of filling cracks in broken objects with gold or silver.

Find beauty in what you have

Leonard Cohen wrote, “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

Though he may not have had home decor in mind when he penned those famous lines, the idea behind them is consistent with the principles of wabi-sabi. Take another look at your things. Ask yourself if they are useful.

Then ask yourself if they are beautiful, remembering that beauty isn't defined by the perfect home featured on your favorite design blog. According to wabi-sabi, an item's true beauty is in its scratches, its dings, its story.

As a newlywed, I created a Pinterest board called “home decor" and filled it with images of the kitchen tables of my fantasies. They were modern and sleek, with smooth reclaimed wood surfaces and hairpin legs. Unblemished, they beckoned me, promising a life just as perfect as they were – if only I owned such a table.

I haven't pinned any new tables to that board since our first child was born nearly six years ago. In that six years, my version of “perfect" has entirely changed as well.

My husband's old wood veneer table is as wabi-sabi as it gets. It serves it's purpose for our growing, evolving family. It's where my kids have sat in their bouncy and bumbo seats. It's where we've clipped high chairs and and pulled up booster seats to feed first bites of banana, first tastes of chocolate chips. It's there that we've blown out candles celebrating the first year, the fortieth year, and lots of years in between.

I look forward to all the celebrations that lie ahead, many of which will likely happen around that beautifully imperfect and ever-changing hunk of a fridge-blocking bachelor-pad table.

Parent Co. partnered with Snuggle Me because they know there's beauty in simplicity.

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