Do you have a favourite decorating style? I love so many that I would have to say my style is “eclectic”. This really means I like a blend of styles, and I think this is the best way to decorate. A home styled in just one very particular style can seem, well too styled.
There are lots of elements of various styles that work well together. At the end of the day YOUR personal style is what you love around you. For me that is colour, texture, old and new side by side, a little bit boho, a little bit mid century, a little bit rustic, a little bit French Country and a little bit Shabby Chic. Taking inspiration from understanding the various decorating styles can help you to work out how to take all the things you love and pull them together to make them work in your home.
One of the styles a lot of you have asked me about is Shabby Chic. I thought we would explain what this is and how to create this look, or bring elements of it into your home. We will follow up with sharing some other forms of interior design in coming weeks, including Modern Industrial, Boho and Scandi.
Here are some simple ways to add a touch of shabby chic to your home
In the Shabby Chic style, furniture, fabrics and decor pieces are either chosen because they are genuinely old and have those gorgeous signs of wear and tear, or you take new pieces and distress them to give the look of being old. Alongside this the decor is usually soft, pretty, feminine and has a cottage-style look.
There are a number of similar or related styles of decorating which work well together with Shabby Chic, including Cottage Style, Beach Style and French Country. Shabby Chic started in the UK and brings the feel of the large country houses there, with worn and faded old chintz sofas and curtains, old paintwork and a relaxed, classy style.
The aim is to achieve an overall elegant and relaxed look. Recycling and upcycling old furniture and fabrics is an important part of the look, which is perfect for our approach to sustainable decorating. This style was very popular with modern Bohemians and artisans during the 1980’s when the term was coined by The World of Interiors magazine.
Genuinely old Shabby Chic furniture has often had many coats of paint over the years, and these layers show through with the knocks and dents of time. This is part of the appeal we love, as the history and age of the chair, table or cupboard is visible in its patina. It also creates visual interest as texture and layers add a beautiful element to a room. This is the look we recreate when we use Chalk Paint™ by Annie Sloan, to layer paint, wax it and then distress in the areas you would expect layering to occur over time.
You can read more here on the basic steps to using Chalk Paint™.
Shabby Chic can also be created when upcycling furniture, with a glaze approach, where you water the Chalk Paint™ down, to create a thin wash. You then rub or sand the top coat to show the wood or base coats, which we call “distressing” the finish of the furniture. If you are looking to recreate this look, seek furniture pieces which have the shape of older furniture styles. When scouring vintage shops, op shops or hard rubbish, solid timber pieces are always gold, as you can also add appliques with things like flower swags and garlands, cherubs, and other motifs, or stencil once painted. You can also reupholster chairs with fabrics that add to the charm of the piece and bring the Shabby Chic feel.
Fabrics used in this style are usually cottons and linens, which are healthy for your skin and feel lovely. Look for organic or sustainable cottons. Linen is a beautiful and sustainable fabric, inspired by old French linens. Pure whites, naturals and worn or bleached out pastel colors are perfect. “Bleached and faded” is often used to describe this look . Vintage floral patterns with pastel colors, cotton ticking patterns, or linen in earth tones, are all typical of shabby chic style.
The word “shabby” is not about looking daggy or ragged. It is an unstructured look, without any real “rules”, but this timeless look really adds a sense of elegance to your home and gives the feeling the pieces have been in your home for hundreds of years. The world is your oyster when creating this look as you can find many fabrics, cushions, salvaged furniture and vintage textiles in local markets, op shops and second hand stores. Salvage yards and hard rubbish can often turn up treasures too. Look at some of the pieces you already have – you may find that a chair, table or cupboard you already own can be transformed into Shabby Chic with a lick or two of paint and a bit of elbow grease.
Shabby Chic style is inexpensive to create and you can do it yourself, which makes it very attractive. Popular colours in this style include the obvious white, soft neutral colors such as sky blue, rose pink and beige tones. While not a true French-style, there are often elements of this classic style which also end up in a Shabby Chic home, including things like Rococo-style lighting fixtures, furniture or wall paneling.
The Shabby Chic look is also used in the outdoor living areas and garden, where you follow the same principles of adding timeworn garden furniture and feminine accessories. Rose gardens are also popular with this style, so adding some roses to your garden can complete the look.
Other elements to include in your home are whitewashed furniture, faded rugs, pillows made of vintage fabric, vintage linens, chenille bedspreads, vintage chandeliers, and anything with roses in the pattern. Antique frames and mirrors are another easy way to add a touch of Shabby Chic. Look for ornate frames and ignore their current finish. You can easily transform them with some white or pastel paint to create the beautiful soft, laid back, feminine, romantic style of decorating that is Shabby Chic. Op shops are a great place to look for these.
Chandeliers are another great item to include. You can often find these on ebay, at garage sales, on gumtree or in second hand stores and it is reasonably easy to replace any missing crystals via ebay. Finally, vintage tea sets and china are a perfect, cheap and easy way to create a lovely touch of the Shabby Chic and are very easy to find.
What do you think – are you a Shabby Chic lover? And what do you love about this look?