Shabby Chic

What, Exactly, Is Shabby Chic?

I remember a time when decorating the house with flea market finds and old furniture was considered to be "Classic Salvation Army". Today, with some finesse and taste, this style has morphed into Shabby Chic. This style is casual, comfy and uses vintage accessories, pastels and worn-in furniture. Other elements of the style include old lace tablecloths, soft floral fabrics, furniture painted in pale, soft colors, filmy sheers hanging from wrought iron rods and vases of fresh flowers. Sounds like your Granny's place, doesn't it? Actually, the "style" was identified by Rachel Ashwell who named it Shabby Chic.

Shabby Chic is not a particular style, but an elegant balance of old and worn, shiny, silver accessories, painted wooden furniture, pastel throw rugs and old lace. We've outlined some of the elements of this style below.

Also get some great ideas for painting furniture or adding stenciling to your walls by checking out our other articles.

The Gentle Colors of Comfort

The colors are not bold, so if you can't live without those orange curtains and bright yellow walls, then this style is not for you. Soft, muted color palettes are the order of the day for this décor, including soft white, pale pink and faded green. To give your house and antique feel try using a tea bag. You can ‘age' or ‘ecru' a stark white piece of cotton or linen by soaking it in a brew of black tea for a designated period of time to give a nice aged look for your home. It's best to test the stain on the piece of fabric first, before you dunk the whole fabric, so you know how long to leave it in the brew.

Mix, Match, Blend and Enjoy

This style is one place where mixing and matching patterns, plaids, strips and checks is very okay. A well balanced mix of floral and plaids can create a warm and inviting look. Buy your yard goods at garage or yard sales or flea markets. The rule of thumb when combining these patterns is to keep the background consistent and find one color to carry as a theme. So, you may decide to use a creamy white for the background and pink as the color with which you create a theme.

Buy Your Furnishings or Create Them - It's Up to You

You can make any piece of furniture you have fit the description of Shabby Chic if you paint it white. Again, flea markets and garage sales are the ideal places to find furniture that you can spray paint and rough up with a bit of sandpaper. And, don't be cornered by "this is a chair and not a table" thinking. If you want to use a chair as a side-table in the bedroom, go ahead. A steamer trunk or old picnic bench makes a great coffee table or bookshelf. Old wooden crates can be stacked and used as occasional tables beside the chairs or sofa.  Use your imagination.

Your creativity is your greatest inspiration, and if you stay within the basic guidelines, you can create your own personal Shabby Chic room or house - comfy and inviting.