Do you love a particular style of decor or are you more eclectic? I am a bit of a mixture and could really love a lot of styles, including Hamptons, French Country and Farmhouse. You may love colour, pattern and texture, or go more for a neutral palette. Or you may take elements of a style and build it your own way. I find it more interesting to select pieces for your home based on what grabs you, rather than on staying in a rigid theme.
One of the styles I love to add to the mix which I know many of you also love, is shabby chic. This is a style of interior design which started some time in the 1980’s. It combines furniture and furnishings chosen for their look of age, and signs of wear and tear. You can take new items and distress them to create a feeling that the piece has been around for years. You can use a range of furniture paints and finishes that allow you to distress the furniture in a natural way, without tearing all the paint off the piece you have just painted. Many of these paints also create that lovely soft matte finish which works so well with textures and soft colours in the shabby chic look.
Here are 5 ways to create a shabby chic look
1) Get distressed
Genuine shabby chic furniture has often been painted many times over the years, with the layers showing through where there has been natural knocks and wear. The idea is to recreate this look. You can do this with a glaze or by painting and then distressing the finish of the furniture. Once painted, distress the furniture with a fine grit sandpaper, so that you are not too harsh. You do not want to rip off too many areas of paint. Select the edges and areas that would naturally be knocked about over time. Look for well made, low cost items in op shops and garage sales to turn into your shabby chic masterpieces. In this style, adding pretty furniture appliques like garlands, flower swags cherubs, and other motifs can also add charm.
2) Create texture and add decor pieces
Your soft furnishing and fabrics are also important in this style. Look for cottons and linens, with linen being particularly popular as it is inspired by old French linens. Linen is also a very eco friendly fabric. It may cost more but it is worth it and once you sleep in it, you never want to go back! You may like to create cushions made of vintage barkcloth fabric for example, or use, vintage linens, textured chenille bedspreads, vintage chandeliers and lamps, and anything with roses in the design. It is a soft, relaxed, feminine, romantic style of decorating that is warm and inviting and makes you want to linger a while. You can also look for things like old bird cages, pretty lamps, vintage tea cups and lace tablecloths to add that special touch. Paint an old watering can and use it to show off large bunches of flowers on your table.
3) Use soft colour
Choose soft colours with natural and organic hues, which create the perfect backdrop for your distressed furniture. Include pure whites, as well as ecrus and worn or bleached out pastel colors. Bleached and faded looks are the way to go. You may also like to look for vintage floral patterns with pastel colors, cotton ticking patterns, or linen in earth tones and that lovely crumpled look. Alongside white, the shabby chic style also includes soft neutral colors like sky blue, rose pink and beige tones.
4) Add some genuine vintage pieces
Australian depression furniture and other simple antique pieces like meat safes and open shelved dressers are popular in the shabby chic style. Imagine an old French countryside home. You can also add touches from the French interior design like Rococo-style lighting, traditional lamps, and wall panelling. Combine some old pieces with the new to create an olde world feel.
5) Don’t forget the outdoors
You can create the shabby chic look in your garden and outdoor living areas with the same design principles of using timeworn garden furniture and pretty feminine accessories. As a flower of choice, think of the older flowers such as rose gardens and country cottage flowers, which are very popular in this style.
Do you love the shabby chic look? And how have you included this in your home? Please share so we can all see!
** this is an update of a post originally shared in 2014