What is Shabby Chic Decor?
Shabby Chic Decor originated in Great Britain and became a popular bohemian style in the 1980s, thanks to the talented Rachel Ashwell. Shabby Chic decor is marked by vintage accessories, distressed furniture, and a comfortable elegance. The style is often described as cottage, romantic, rustic, French country, coastal, and English country. Recycling old pieces and fabrics is an integral part of the style. In this way, every piece of Shabby Chic decor is considered to be a piece of art. The style draws inspiration from many different sources throughout history, including influences from 18th century Swedish paintings, the French Chateau movement and the American Shakers.
Antique furniture is often used to achieve this style, but new furniture can also be distressed to get that elegantly worn look. New furniture with retro accents like floral prints, antiqued hardware, garlands, cherubs, and flowers swags are an easy way to add a cozy feminine feeling to your home. Shabby Chic colors tend to be pure whites and pastels that have been bleached or faded. Cottons and linens are used to imitate the effect of old French linens, and can be stained with tea to appear aged without damaging the fibers.
Shabby Chic Decorating Ideas
Walls & Colors
Shabby Chic colors are pastels, pure whites, and soft neutral colors (like rose pink, buff beige, and robin egg blue). Wall paneling with vintage floral prints, such as roses, are both popular and timeless. Delicate patterns like polka-dots, thin stripes, and lace on wallpaper is a modern way to incorporate the unassuming grace of this style.
Wood paneled floors, in white or natural colors, are a classic aspect of Shabby Chic style. Old barn wood can be repurposed into casually lovely flooring. To finish off the look, plush carpets with oriental patterns and classic floral prints add a posh touch. Hand woven rugs in soft colors can also make a Shabby Chic room warm and inviting.
Antique pieces are best for this style, particularly anything with distressed styling and classic lines. True antiques often have spots were old layers of paint show through the top layer, giving the piece a rustic look. This can be recreated on modern furniture by distressing the finish of a piece. Classic pieces like china cabinets, pie safes, and jelly cupboards are useful and beautifully vintage. Furniture can be given an easy makeover with appliques of garlands, roses, cherubs, or lace. An easy rule for Shabby Chic furniture is that you can never go wrong with white. Clean lines and delicate detail is the key. This beautiful piece is the Howard Miller Majestic II curio grandfather clock.
Decor and Accents
Pillows made of barkcloth fabric create a vintage feel, while art nouveau pieces perfectly blend elegance and antiquity. Classic vanities and heavily framed mirrors are essential to the Shabby Chic look. Art pieces with a crafty/homemade vibe fit well with the style. Anything that has a vintage or salvaged look can be used as Shabby Chic decor. Vintage advertisements are also a favorite design element.
Linens, lace, and cotton are the best fabrics to use for a Shabby Chic look. The colors can be anything from whites and pastels to solid earth tones. Quilts and hand woven blankets are a warm and inviting way to add a rustic feel. Tea can be used to dye fabric into an antiqued shade without damaging the fibers, plus the fabric will smell like your favorite earl grey! This lovely bedding is the Waterford Delaney set, and it features an intricate muted floral damask pattern. Click Here for a selection Shabby Chic bedding sets including comforters, quilts, duvet covers and bedspreads
How to Shabby Chic your home.
Shabby Chic Bedroom Decor
Walls & Windows
The bedroom should be a place of rest and relaxation, so stick with a soft color on the walls to help you unwind. Anything pastel, beige, or ivory would be lovely but not overbearing. Softer colors for the walls means that more elaborate furnishings can take center stage. To add a vintage feel, use a wall paper border with a floral pattern or a delicate filigree. Wall paneling can be used but the pattern needs to be delicate enough that it will not overpower the room. Floral and lace curtains, window treatments and valances also add a rustic style to any room. Click here for Shabby Chic curtains.
Look for plush carpeting in a pretty floral shade like rose, violet, or a deep ivy green. These colors will offset the lightness of the walls (while hiding stains!). Beige and white will also compliment a Shabby Chic bedroom. Oriental patterned carpets and rugs add a sense of wealth and sophistication. Click here for a selection of Shabby Chic floor and area rugs
Bedding & Furniture
Shabby Chic furniture is all about attention to detail. Look for bedframes with fluted legs, sleigh headboards, or metal wrought headboards. A canopy bed with billowing cotton or lace would be a perfect center piece for a rustic bedroom. Quilts, embroidered duvet covers, and crisp linens complete the look, shabby chic bedding collections from luxury bedding designers such Ralph Lauren, Croscill, Laura Ashley and of course Waverly whose classic floral prints epitomize this decor style. Replacing the hardware on your bedside table, dresser, and vanity is a quick way, cheap and affordable way to make furniture look antique. And a large, ornate vanity looks pricey and feminine.
Shabby Chic Dining Room Decor
In dining rooms you can get more daring with your wall colors. A solid color with white trim will look fresh and inviting. Wall décor made of distressed material is an easy way to dress up walls (plus it’s easier to change wall art than paint color when your mood changes).
Hardwood floors are always stunning, but they really shine with Shabby Chic décor. Wood floors can be kept their natural color, but they also look lovely painted white. Whitewashed wood floors really pop against a bright wall color.
The Shabby Chic style gives you an opportunity to get creative with lighting. Vintage chandeliers and luxurious light fixtures are a fun way to add personality to a dining room. Plus it is a guaranteed conversation starter at your next dinner party.
This particular chandelier is the Waterford Crystal Ashbourne nine armed chandelier.
A distressed wooden dining table is necessary for any Shabby Chic dining room. Simple wooden chairs with cushions upholstered in a vintage pattern round out the casually elegant look. A crafty centerpiece of repurposed pieces makes the room more personalized.
Shabby Chic Living & Family Room Decor
A soft pastel wall color keeps the living room feeling light, airy, and fresh.
Classic hardwood floors with plush rugs layered over them is simple and decadent.
Couches with classic silhouettes and linen upholstery are great for the Shabby Chic look. Layering decadent, crafty pillows over a simple couch strikes a beautiful balance. You can never go wrong with white furniture, but don’t be afraid to splurge on brightly colored and distressed pieces too. If all of the furniture is distressed to the same degree, the colors being different won’t seem off.
Fun pieces made of salvaged materials, etched glass candleholders, and art nouveau pieces all embody the classy bohemian style of Shabby Chic. The sky is the limit when it comes to Shabby Chic decorations. Decorative, toss and throw pillows are a simple, cheap and affordable way to bring rustic shabby chic style to your couch and sofa. Click here for a selection of shabby chic pillows.