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Shabby Chic Home Design: What You Need to Know

Shabby Chic Home Design: What You Need to Know
4 min. read

Image: Kuprynenko Andrii / Shutterstock.com

Picture a combination of rustic farmhouse decor and romantic French provincial style. The result is a comfortable interior that begs you to curl up and stay awhile. Also known as Shabby Chic, this easy-going decor style creates a warm and welcoming home with a well-lived in vibe.

Currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, Shabby Chic interior decor is the perfect blend of timeworn furnishings paired with soft and cozy textiles. It’s also an easy style to experiment with because of its forgiving nature. Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning to introduce this relaxed and inviting decor style in your home.

Start with a Soft Color Palette

To achieve the proper laid-back aesthetic for a Shabby Chic interior, you’ll have to forgo bright, bold colors. Instead use silky creams, pale greys, and soft muted shades on an antique white backdrop. If you don’t want to replace big-ticket items you already own, white slipcovers are a Shabby Chic staple. They’re washable and it’s OK if they don’t fit quite right or show a few wrinkles. That’s all part of the allure of the low-maintenance style.

Worried about the room feeling washed out with all those pale hues? Layer in accessories with lots of texture to create depth. Look for rough wicker baskets, linen and burlap fabrics, chunky knits, and vintage lace to give the eyes something to feast on. Weathered wood and chipped paint also add texture and create contrast with the softer textiles.


Image: Lapina / Shutterstock.com

Embrace Imperfections

The great thing about Shabby Chic decor is you never have to worry about a scratch or water mark on your furniture. Pieces that have a history and tell a story only add to the charm. It also means that you can sit back and relax. Skip the iron, ignore the rust, and leave the paint chipped.

To create the look for yourself, shop for vintage pieces at flea markets, garage sales, or even your grandparent’s attic. If the item is natural wood, select your favorite white or pastel chalk paint and give it a coat. Distress it by sanding the edges and corners and rough it up a little to give it that worn look. With very little cost and effort, you’ve got a custom piece of Shabby Chic furniture.


Image: F.Schmidt / Shutterstock.com

Repurpose the Ordinary

Almost any vintage object can be repurposed into a beautiful Shabby Chic treasure. Let your imagination run wild when it comes to finding a home for that perfect vintage find. Try hanging an old window in place of artwork or turn a reclaimed door into a unique headboard.

Architectural details are also popular for upcycling into Shabby Chic accents that are both functional and decorative. Salvaged corbels can be made into shelf brackets, plant hangers, wall sconces, or even a coat rack. Old shutters are another extremely versatile item to repurpose. The slats provide built-in texture and they can be painted any shade that suits your color scheme. They make lovely room dividers and are a great Shabby Chic alternative to traditional closet doors.


Image: Susan Howard / Shutterstock.com

Don’t Forget the Chic

To successfully incorporate Shabby Chic without making your home look like a thrift store, remember that not everything should be old and worn. Recreate the charm of the French countryside with ornate details and lavish touches. Incorporate Baroque style furniture with gorgeous curves and plush upholstery to elevate the space. Hang elaborate chandeliers and elegant wall sconces to add a bit of glam.

Shabby Chic spaces are full of interesting details that prevent them from ever feeling boring.  From knots and tassels to fringes and ruffles, all the pillows, blankets, and throws with a little something extra will add interest to a room.  Wood pieces with carvings and embellishments also add character, while decorative accents such as fresh flowers, fragrant candles, and layers of tulle and lace bring a level of elegance that provides contrast to the humble furnishings.

Now that you have some guidelines to help you balance the shabby and the chic, you’re ready to try your hand at creating your own beautiful and comfortable Shabby Chic home.

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