Shabby chic is not your grandma’s interior design style, no matter what you’ve heard. This design is modern and fresh, charming and casually elegant. It is a mix of antique and vintage elements paired with modern touches. The worn, recycled and imperfect is celebrated. You can be sure you’ll love this style if you love thrift store and antique shopping or if you’re always looking for your next piece of furniture to repurpose or distress.
Rachel Ashwell, English author, designer and entrepreneur is said to have first coined the term “shabby chic.” In fact, her name is practically synonymous with the term since she first used it in the 1980s. Because of her influence, the style very quickly gained popularity all over Great Britain. The style is also somewhat popular in France, with French influences seen in Rococo-style lighting, furniture and wall paneling.
Shabby chic interior design is style popular in its home country, England. It has also spread to the west coast of the United States, putting down roots in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.
If you think that the bohemian, laid-back feel of shabby chic style is what you’re looking for, read on for ideas on how to incorporate it into your home.
Shabby chic is all about the beautifully imperfect, about making old, vintage pieces really shine. You can also make new pieces look antique by distressing them yourself. This is especially ideal to do in your kitchen so that you can have new elements that only look old, and it’s fairly easy to do this in the kitchen, starting with the cabinetry. There are several ways you can get a distressed look; you can first paint all the cabinetry a dark tone, a dark gray, for example, and then paint a white or cream over it, distressing it and slightly removing it to reveal the paint underneath. The result is a beautifully worn and antiqued look that sets the mood of your kitchen. And of course, this is just one way of making woodwork shabby chic; do a little bit of research to find the method that works best for you.
Contrast the beautifully neutral cream or white cabinets with some dark wood flooring and black marble countertops. Hang an elegant chandelier above the kitchen island if your kitchen has one. Finish off the room with a rustic barn door leading to the pantry or living room; you’ll need sliding door hardware, but that’s easy to find.
The living room is a great place to really show off your thrift store shopping skills. Head over to the local flea market or salvage stop or consider looking online on sites like Craigslist and eBay. Sometimes people just really want to get rid of things and you can find great vintage furniture and accessories for a steal. Even if you find something not really antique, still consider new pieces that kind of resemble antiques and then just refinish them. Look for pie safes and jelly cupboards; paired with silver handles or knobs, these pieces are unmistakably shabby chic.
For this style, think big when it comes to furniture. Big sofas and big pillows really spell shabby chic. Cover your sofas with loose-fitting, washable slipcovers; an almost wrinkled look is perfect here. Bring in the fresh, casually elegant feel with live green plants and fresh flowers in crystal vases.
Shabby chic mostly uses colors that are typically thought of as feminine, colors like soft white, pale pink, mint green and light grey, however you should feel free to add a pop of color for interest. Use plum purple or even a little bit of red, but sparingly. One way to do this in your bedroom is with flowers or on one or two throw pillows. Red flowers and red in a pillow paired with mint green and gold furniture and accessories pair well and will give the room a fresh and chic feeling without pink lace and dainty doilies.
If you want to minimize the colors in your bedroom, you can do so and still create an appealing and interesting room by adding lots of texture. Wallpaper or a carefully-chosen painting can bring in great texture to the room. You can also use a variety of fabrics, including cotton, toiles, lace and chenille when choosing bedding. Patterns can also add texture, even if they don’t use a lot of color; think stripes, flowers, damask and polka dot.
Like elsewhere in the home, there are a lot of
really great ways to bring shabby chic into your bathroom. You could go for a more vintage shabby look or bring in the country-esque feel with florals and pastels, but it seems that every true shabby chic bathroom has elegantly mismatching utilities and accessories. Freestanding tubs are practically a necessity, but don’t fret if you don’t want to rip out your built-in tub; you can make your bathroom beautifully shabby chic regardless. Consider black and white damask wallpaper paired with a white baseboard and dark hardwood flooring. A white porcelain tub and vanity add a contrasting sleekness. Finish off the look with pink flowers in an antique vase, and there you have it: an elegantly shabby chic bathroom.