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Here comes Wabi-sabi: Embracing ‘imperfections’ a theme for homes, gardens in 2018

Wabi-sabi may sound like the Japanese horseradish sauce that you get at sushi restaurant, but it’s actually one of the hot trends for the home and garden for 2018.

Predictions for the year to come are fairly consistent on national level websites, such as HGTV and “House Beautiful,” and much of it involves the growing interests in mind and body health being reflected in your personal domain.

And wabi-sabi could be the umbrella in which many of the other trends seem to fit under.

Let it be

Wabi-sabi is a centuries-old Japanese aesthetic that celebrates natural imperfection, whether is overgrown perennials and weathered pots to rusted or industrial metal furnishings.

The Garden Media Group says the Asian reverence for the healing power of nature also will be reflected in rooms dedicated to meditation, indoor plants and water features; and for the garden, “rainscaping,” Zen features and the idea of “shinrin-yoku,” or forest bathing (walking in woods), which might involve planting more trees in your backyard.

“We all know gardening works wonders for our physical health,” says Katie Dubow, creative director at the trend-spotting firm. “In our 2018 Garden Trends Report, we’re looking at new ways people are transforming their spaces, indoors and out, to further improve their mental well-being.”

Country Living magazine says that “Mindfulness — the ancient Buddhist tradition of immersing yourself in the present moment — has become a huge buzzword in wellbeing over the past few years and it’s set to have a strong influence over how we design and appreciate our gardens in 2018.”

The therapeutic smells of lavender appear to be having an influence on what appears to be the color of 2018, purple.

The Pantone Color Institute, a corporation who creates proprietary colors used in variety of manufacturing industries, declared “ultra violet” the color for the new year.

Pantone calling it “complex and contemplative.”

“Enigmatic purples have also long been symbolic of counterculture, unconventionality, and artistic brilliance,” the institute’s website says, adding that Prince and Jimi Hendrix used purple as an expression of individuality.

“Nuanced and full of emotion, the depth of Pantone 18-3838 Ultra Violet symbolizes experimentation and non-conformity, spurring individuals to imagine their unique mark on the world, and push boundaries through creative outlets.”

What’s happening here

What happens nationally, which is typically driven by New York, Los Angeles and other major cities, doesn’t always translate to South Carolina, but some of it does.

In that way, handmade items — which tend to be more natural and have slight imperfections — are strong in the Palmetto State.

Blacksmith Sean Ahern, owner of Ahern’s Anvils on Brigade Street, is keeping his shop busy, noting that the dominant theme of what people want is “more of a style than any particular item.”

“There is a high demand right now for things to look rustic or industrial,” says Ahern.

“But most importantly, the best part of this is that people want ‘handmade’ items. The appreciation of the craftsmanship has definitely come back into the spotlight. It’s really wonderful; it is though the door to creativity has been wedged open to allow for fresh ideas and designs to flow through.”

Ahern says his work will shift from fire screens and fireplace accessories to railings, decorative gates and garden trellises in the spring.

Similarly, landscape architect J.R. Kramer of ReMark Studio says he’s done several projects incorporating corten steel, which develops a stable rust-like appearance when exposed to the weather.

“That’s something a little different for Charleston,” says Kramer.


Columbia area interior decorator Tina Grimes of DBT Interiors credits do-it-yourself TV shows and social media for stirring interests in moving people to “trend decorating styles,” noting that some of her clients have been asking for shiplap, rough-sawn wood boards often used in barns, rustic structures and historic homes; and barn doors to add to an interior of a home.

“It does offer a way to achieve texture in a room,” says Grimes.

Grimes also says that many of her clients are “busy moms who have multiple children” and that they are seeking furniture fabrics that are both attractive and durable, noting that she’s a fan of Crypton Home and Revolution Performance Fabrics.

Both are Greenguard-certified and inherently add a built-in stain, moisture and odor resistance technology to the fabric to be used by many manufacturers of furniture, says Grimes.

Bringing the outdoors in

Ashley Walsh, a Realtor with Century 21 Barefoot Realty in North Myrtle Beach, says trends for Charleston and Myrtle Beach differ, but that she does think the New Year will bring more of the natural look indoors, both in patterns, materials and colors.

“As far as interior design goes, green is coming back,” says Walsh.

“Green went out hard. It was a color that seemed dated, but it’s coming back, especially emerald and chartreuse.”

Naomi Hannan, store manager of Candelabra in Mount Pleasant, echoes that prediction. Home décor will start moving away from grays into more colorful territory. Inspired by the fashion world, bolder accent colors will be prevalent, she believes.

At the same time, décor “will still lean toward natural elements but with cleaner lines to be more minimalistic in appearance,” Hannan says. “Trends for lighting seem to be moving to more artisan fixtures, which complement the minimalist designs.”

She adds, “I think overall in 2018 design will be high contrast, clean lines, and bold patterns, deep color pops, and high drama lighting.”

Local plant guru, B.J. Stadelman, of Haegur Plant Truck says he’s seeing “a shift back to interior landscaping.”

“If you look at the 70s’ plant style, (it featured) huge, interesting leaf shapes and stellar silhouettes. I think we’re going to see more and more of those post mid-century style,” says Stadelman.

Examples of plants that Stadelman thinks will be in demand include sansevieria, bird’s nest ferns, cast iron plants “and any ficus, really.”

“My absolute favorite plant right now is staghorn fern,” says Stadelman. “I’m going to spend 2018 making sure everyone knows what that is.”

Another trend he thinks is posed for a comeback is “hippie-era macrame.”


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