Work in Progress: Wabi-Sabi Inspires our Oakland Tudor Project

Wabi-sabi is the Japanese philosophy that embraces the passing of time and all of nature’s imperfections. Although this philosophy started as an ancient Buddhist approach to life, centuries later it’s gracing the world of interior design!

Our current Oakland Tudor Project takes inspiration directly from wabi-sabi. Here are the key features behind the style and how we’ll be using them to create a unique and beautiful space for our client.

  George Nakashima's Home in New Hope ( source )

George Nakashima's Home in New Hope (source)

Key Elements of Wabi-Sabi Design

  • Embraces imperfections and impermanence, such as knots in woodgrain or asymmetry
  • Opts for natural materials such as wood, stone, wool, linen, etc.
  • Prioritizes materials that patina or gain beauty with age
  • Takes a minimal and highly intentional approach to planning a space
     

Why We’re Fans of Wabi-Sabi for the Home

  • Uses materials with natural longevity, warmth, and character
  • Creates a space that feels restful and peaceful
  • “Imperfections” make your home feel one-of-a-kind (and not like a hotel)
     

Wabi-Sabi Influences in our Oakland Tudor Project

  Clé Tile in Flannel ( source )

Clé Tile in Flannel (source)

  Clé Tile in Rice Paper ( source )

Clé Tile in Rice Paper (source)

Both tile options look stunning, embrace imperfections, and will age with grace. The tiny pinholes of the Flannel tile will help hide any chips or scratches years down the road, while the variegated Rice Paper tiles make any potential discoloring a non-issue. Beauty and longevity.

  Vintage Coffee Table ( source )

Vintage Coffee Table (source)

This vintage coffee table embodies wabi-sabi. The natural grain of the wood has an asymmetrical balance to it, and the table’s shape is irregular for a coffee table but reflects nature. The three legs look intentional, appropriate, and add no more than what is minimally needed.

  Armadillo Rug ( source )

Armadillo Rug (source)

The natural variegated tones and texture of this rug not only create warmth and beauty, but will absorb any wear and tear that occurs over time.

  Noguchi’s Akari Floor Lamp ( source )

Noguchi’s Akari Floor Lamp (source)

This floor lamp by famous Japanese-American designer Isamu Noguchi embraces imperfect forms and transforms the harsh light of a bulb into a warm glow. His choice of paper and thin metal frames create an ephemeral yet joyful feel.

  Cast Iron Pendants ( source )

Cast Iron Pendants (source)

The shapes of these pendants may vary, but they create an asymmetrical balance that is intriguing and pleasing to the eye. In addition, the cast iron material will age beautifully.

  Jordan Brown Fire Table ( source )

Jordan Brown Fire Table (source)

Concrete is another material characteristic of wabi-sabi design. Natural variation will give this fire table its own unique character and beauty in our client's space, now and as it ages in the years to come.

What’s your favorite wabi-sabi-inspired piece? Share with us in the comments below!

One Room Challenge: Our 6 Week Living Room Makeover - Week 5

Accessories - those small touches that contribute to the unique character and life of a space. While they may not seem important compared to furniture, accessories can often make or break a space. They impact how a space feels, and ultimately you want a space that feels personal, authentic, and complete. In our post for week 5 of the One Room Challenge, we’ll be sharing our approach to accessorizing your home.

 A vignette of objects both decorative and functional from our Brooklyn Co-op Project

A vignette of objects both decorative and functional from our Brooklyn Co-op Project

We take a Goldilocks approach to accessories: not too many and not too few! Too many can feel cluttered while having too few can feel like you’re living in a hotel. Via a thoughtfully curated selection of accessories, you can add depth to your spaces and amplify the beauty - all without sacrificing functionality.

For our living room makeover, we selected several key new pieces that add visual interest. We're also mixing in a couple trinkets that we’ve collected over the years that have sentimental value. It's always important to select varied materials, colors, and textures that create a collection of accessories that feels personal and unique to your story. Don't be afraid to put together different styles, metals, or finishes as long you as you love it - that's exactly how you avoid a showroom or over-designed look. 

 Clockwise from top left:  1  /  2  /  3  /  4

Clockwise from top left: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

What are some of your favorite accessories that you've collected over the years? We'd love to hear the stories about your most treasured pieces!

Next week, we’ll be sharing the big reveal in our final post for the One Room Challenge!

Missed the previous weeks' posts? You can catch up here: 
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4

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Check the progress of the other bloggers participating in the One Room Challenge:
Guest Participants
Featured Designers

One Room Challenge: Our 6 Week Living Room Makeover - Week 3

Here we are at week 3 of the One Room Challenge, where bloggers take 6 weeks to transform a room and document the process. In the two previous weeks, we shared the room we’re tackling, and the new plans for the space. This week: progress photos!

 Fresh white walls

Fresh white walls

We’ve been busy with the project management stage of the project which includes procurement and execution, and placing orders for all the new items for the living room space and overseeing installation. Some of our new pieces have started to come in or be completed: new paint, new sofa legs and cushions, and new bookshelves. You'll notice we still have to declutter and rearrange a bit...

 New cushions, sofa feet, and bookshelves are in

New cushions, sofa feet, and bookshelves are in

Now that some of the major pieces are in place (with more new items arriving soon), we’ve been thinking about layering - the small touches that greatly contribute to the unique character and life of a space. Our next two posts will be focused on adding plant life and accessorizing with decorative and/or functional objects. No room is complete without these last steps! 

Check in next week for a primer on selecting the right plants for your space. Missed the previous weeks' posts? You can catch up here: 
Week 1
Week 2

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Check the progress of the other bloggers participating in the One Room Challenge:
Guest Participants
Featured Designers

One Room Challenge: Our 6 Week Living Room Makeover - Week 2

We love short turnaround times - there’s nothing like a 6 week deadline to force quick decision-making! In our second installment of the One Room Challenge, we’ll begin by sharing our design process and concept for the living room. 

 Our starting point for the living room makeover

Our starting point for the living room makeover

Assess the Situation

We start every project by getting the lay of the land and assessing the situation. In this case, the living room (and condo in general) had a couple major issues that needed to be addressed.

Issue #1: Our furniture is a hodge-podge of pieces that I and my husband have collected individually and the overall space lacks cohesion.
Goal: Unify the aesthetic of the space by replacing select furnishings and decor.

Issue #2: Lack of color harmony with yellow undertone walls (it’s hard to tell in the before image) and gray undertone floors.
Goal: Update wall colors to match undertone of floors.

Furniture to stay.png

Create the Design Concept

After gathering all the relevant information and setting the goals of the project, we then create the concept for the look and feel of the space. My husband and I agreed on a mostly neutral palette to provide a place of calm in the midst of the hustle and bustle of our location next to the train station in San Francisco's SOMA neighborhood. We’re going with white walls, mixed woods, and soft patterns and textures for a clean, cozy atmosphere.

What I’m most excited about is upgrading the artwork in the living room to bring a new level of sophistication to our home. I fell in love with a mixed media piece by Robert Szot a couple months ago, and purchased it from the Jack Fischer Gallery, one of our favorite local San Francisco art galleries. This first new piece will be the perfect anchor for the space!

 The anchor for the living room: Robert Szot's Demirep from the Jack Fischer Gallery (  image source )

The anchor for the living room: Robert Szot's Demirep from the Jack Fischer Gallery (image source)

To help illustrate the vibe we’re going for is this stunning space from Malene Birger, a Danish designer.

 The living room of Malene Birger's London flat via  Lonny

The living room of Malene Birger's London flat via Lonny

Source the Pieces

After the design concept is firm, we start sourcing pieces that fit the concept and goals. One of the hardest parts is deciding which pieces to keep and which to let go, especially when you don’t agree with your husband! I’m personally not a big fan of the Barcelona chair especially for a small space like ours, but that’s his favorite piece so it stays. The full rundown:

  • Coffee table: We have an oak dining table, and a few walnut pieces, so to remove some of the chrome and bring in balance and warmth, we’ll be replacing the marble coffee table with a custom oak coffee table.

  • Sofa: We love the bones of the sofa, but need to replace the legs as they were too tall and not the best style for the space. We’ll also be replacing the back cushions and some of the upholstery to make it more loungey and cushy.

  • Bookshelf: The bookshelf is too industrial-looking and heavy for the space so we’ll be replacing this bookshelf with minimal book shelving.

  • Walls: The creamy, almost beige walls have got to go! Same for the red accent wall. We’ll be starting over with a fresh white base.

  • Artwork: We’re starting to up the sophistication and only collect pieces we really love, so existing artwork will be replaced.

  • Accessories: We’ll be replacing and layering on accessories to make this space ours.

New furniture.png

Stay tuned for next week's post where we'll be sharing progress photos! Missed the first week's post? You can catch up here: Week 1

Check the progress of the other bloggers participating in the One Room Challenge:
Guest Participants
Featured Designers

One Room Challenge: Our 6 Week Living Room Makeover - Week 1

We’re excited to be guest participating in this spring’s One Room Challenge. For those who are unfamiliar, the One Room Challenge is a biannual event where bloggers take 6 weeks to transform a room and share the process. This is our first time doing a design challenge like this, and we’re pumped to get started! 

I first moved into the condo I share with my husband (then-boyfriend) 3 years ago. At the time, it hit ALL the checkboxes for the ultimate bachelor pad:

  • Dark shag rug

  • Huge, L-shaped lounge-y sectional built out of painted black shipping pallets and loose gray cushions

  • Chrome and marble coffee table and Arco lamp

  • Chrome and black leather Barcelona chair and ottoman

  • The list goes on...

  Not a full-on bachelor pad anymore, but still a mess.

Not a full-on bachelor pad anymore, but still a mess.

As an interior designer, it’s embarrassing to say we haven’t done too much with the space in the past three years! I’ve been slowly injecting some of my own style, including my collection of Moroccan and Turkish rugs and a vintage cabinet, but the space has never felt like a home.

Why haven’t I done anything about it?! Good question. When living in a rental for a finite amount of time, there’s a constant debate: Do I spend money to fix this place up? Or do I save money for the huge renovation project we’re working on? Given the long timeline of our personal renovation, we finally decided that it’s worth making this place feel like a real home for our remaining 2 years here.

So, what can we do within reason to fix the ugly in this place? For the One Room Challenge, I’ll be focusing on the living room as it’s the space in which we spend the most time. Our primary goals:

  1. Create a unified aesthetic.

  2. Re-use as much existing furniture and decor as possible.

  3. Only buy new things that we will be able to use in our future home 2 years down the line.

We’ll be tagging all of our behind-the-scenes and and sneak peeks with #formandfieldORC on Instagram so be sure to follow us there. For the next six weeks, check out our progress each Thursday on the blog. Let the makeover begin!

Read the rest of the series:
Week 2

Check out the plans of the other bloggers who are also up for a crazy next six weeks:
Guest Participants
Featured Designers