Not Lived In Yet: The Wabi Sabi House

Wabi Sabi House by Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen, 2316 Bartlett St., Houston

The Wabi Sabi House is Carol Isaak Barden’s latest High Concept development. Tucked into a normal-sized lot between Greenbriar and Kirby just south of 59, the 3,700-sq.-ft. cedar-faced home is the first Texas residence designed by Seattle architects Olson Sundberg Kundig and Allen. It’s scheduled to be complete this month.

What’s the big idea? Explains Barden,

Generally, wabi means humble, and sabi refers to the imperfection that comes with time. Freely translated, it means something like “lived in.”

Alternate translation: Move over, feng shui. Wabi-sabi is the ancient Japanese idea behind the latest category of home-design looks and books.

After the jump: A view from the Wabi Sabi House’s huge roof deck. Plus: Barden’s checkered and gilded past!


Roof Deck, Wabi Sabi House by Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen, 2316 Bartlett St., Houston

The house has 3 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, and an outdoor fireplace.

Barden wasn’t always so interested in Japanese concepts of incomplete and imperfect beauty. An essay in Southern Accents magazine describes her two-decade-long flirtation with a more elaborate lifestyle:

I acquired Louis XIV-ish taste. Everything was gilded, swagged, and over-the-top as I outdid myself with a house full of fancy French antiques.

My “better living” punch list included bigger rooms, fancier entertaining spaces, his-and-her bathrooms and lavish dressing areas, silver domes in the dining room, and torturously uncomfortable furniture. Outside was the high-maintenance pool and the higher-maintenance garden. My life became complicated, elaborate, and ridiculous. I lived with endless to-do lists and schedules.

Looking back on the psychological price of my high-design house is the horrifying equivalent of discovering old pictures of myself with big 1960s hair and false eyelashes. What was I thinking? Slowly, I came to long for the natural, small-scale living of my childhood.

For her decorating ventures this time, Barden will stick a little closer to home. A brochure reports that the Wabi Sabi House is being staged for sale by the owners of Found for the Home, just down the street.

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