Home » Doing things Termas-style: wabi sabi

Doing things Termas-style: wabi sabi

Finally I have found a good name for the style of the Termas!

I’ve been struggling with how to describe this for years. And it was also unclear to me why I always feel attracted to old and used objects.

It’s because of wabi sabi

Wabi sabi is the (Japanese) philosophy that we respect everything that goes by, is fragile, a bit damaged and modest. It’s about the beauty of the perishable, of the imperfect, of the rustic and of melancholy. It has nothing to do with the love of invincibility, youth and flawlessness, which we are so fond of in the West.


I’ve always had it. Probably I have been a Japanese in my previous life

If I can choose between something new and something old, I will often choose the latter. Not always naturally, I prefer a new mattress and ditto underpants, but otherwise I often take to second-hand.

It seems like I feel what history is attached to it

In my youth it wasn’t a thing. Almost everyone used everything for a long time, because most people didn’t have much to spend. With the increasing prosperity something new was increasingly appreciated. You see that happening here and now. Many Portuguese go for new. Maybe that’s why these big stores are so successful here …

In the seventies it was fashionable to have old things. You put the discarded Singer sewing machine from your grandmother in the living room, preferably painted purple, surrounded by all kinds of skimpy plants, with her creaking rocking chair next to it. It was then the reverse: if you didn’t have an old grandmother with a rocking chair, you could probably get one who had been made old on purpose. The chair, of course.

Flea markets were incredibly popular, and antique dealers were all happy and content

That changed from one day to another – in my experience at least. I hadn’t paid attention, and boom, there were the eighties. From cluttered living rooms with lots of plants, books and old junk,we went to only the essentials, neon light and black linoleum on the floor. Or that trend of everything completely white. I remember that I’ve been staring in amazement through a large, bare window into a living room where literally everything and everything was white.

Bizarre. As if you live at the North Pole. Not exactly cozy and homely

Fortunately, not everything and everyone fell prey to that white wash affair. There was also an – elitist – trend to renovate old furniture and to give it an artistic twist. There was a store that I really liked to go to. Dutch Design, later very popular. I can still remember wonderful dining room furniture: a huge fifty-year-old wooden table, polished with the chairs around it, and each had cow horns on the top of the back.


Brilliant idea, nicely executed, but I can imagine that after a while the surprise is over. You don’t encounter such things much anymore.

The current trend, especially in Portugal, is new, gray and bare. No frills, everywhere, tiles and a lot of dark gray. As if one anticipates decay. Cars: black, dark or medium gray with silver edges along the windows. The latter is very important, that shows you how high your status is. Fashion: practical, dark-colored, no frills. Architecture: the box fashion. Everything straight, straight lines, like a box. The only frivolity you can afford (if you are a modern, fashion-conscious person, at least) is a little corridor between your boxes.


So sorry, I think it’s gruesome. This is the ugliest of the ugliest I can imagine, except of course “the Pink Monster” (a hotel made of two huge big pink boxes with a little corridor inbetween) a bit further alongside us. On the other hand, the wooden rustic hut above – although with an aluminum window – also goes a bit far to the other extreme.

We’re good here in the Termas. Wabi sabi the portudutch way

We’re in the right place.



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We moved here in 2000 from Rotterdam, Holland to the Termas-da-Azenha, Portugal. A big step, especially with two small children. We are busy to rebuild one of portugals cultural heirlooms: Termas-da-Azenha, an old spa which has been turned into several holiday homes, rooms and campsites, with a lots of fun things to do: swimming pool, indoor and outdoor games like pingpong, petanque, a FancyDressingRoom and a small café. You’ll find mosaics and paintings everywhere.

The old bathhouse is going to be a museum, where you can see how things have changed. Since 2018 we call ourselves the first B&B&B in the world – Bed & Breakfast & Bathrobes. You can buy a home-made unique bathrobe/housecoat with us.

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