Elegance and comfort in one place. That is the definition of shabby chic style of interior design. You might be surprised to learn that it originated in the 18th century. But the name shabby chic was given to this style only in the 1980s.
Today, with its rustic furniture and vintage looks, it is both trendy and timeless. The shabby chic style of interior design is itself a big proponent of many layers of materials. Here is what you need to know to find the balance between shabby and chic.
The Key Elements of Shabby Chic Decor
This style originated in Britain so that the upper middle class can add chic to their lives like the rich and famous in their country houses have for a really long time. With elaborate houses and furnishings that have been passed from one generation to another, shabby chic really is about repurposing old-world charm and introducing it to the 21st century. Faded drapes and distressed chaises are just a couple of symbols of that theory. Now, how does one spot this style in their everyday lives? Let’s look for the signs.
Look for Vintage Furniture
If you love going around thrift stores for vintage but affordable items, this style is for you. Distressed and antique furniture gives shabby chic its signature look. But make sure the stuff you get is sturdy and lasts a while. If it has a couple of loopholes, those can be fixed. But in its skeletal form, the furniture needs to be solid. Anything that falls apart in a day or so isn’t worth bringing home, right?
About the spirit of the furniture. You want something that has intricate and Nouveau Art features. Hand-painted floral stuff is a great way to do this. Speaking of which, don’t discount paintings that look a little worn out. When they are paired with newer looking chic elements, they make for a rad combination.
Mix and Match Rustic and Contemporary Accessories
And speaking of old and new, when it comes to accessories, don’t be afraid to mix it up a bit. You need to find the perfect balance between the cluttered and the ornate look. This doesn’t mean it has to actually be cluttered. You can do this by picking a particular place in the room for each piece or a set of accessories and exhibit them there. It could be a nice little corner too.
Get a nice open shelf or a mantelpiece and put a few pictures in a weathered wooden or a metal frame. Pair this with a patina and get the shabby chic look right away.
Another advantage with this look is that you can go crazy with a gallery wall with all kinds of artwork. So if wall art is your thing, you’ve made the right interior design choice.
Pick a Timeless Chandelier
Some folks find this over the top. But a timeless chandelier is all you need to balance the old and the new. Plus, you will have some phenomenal lighting as the focal point of the room, no matter the design. And it doesn’t have to be huge and spewing grandeur. There are a lot of options out there which make chandeliers look cool. Check these out. If you get it right, you will have excellent lighting and a casual look at the same time. It is also a delightful conversation starter.
White Linens Are Cozy
This is another aspect of shabby chic that creates a beautiful contrast in any room. White linen on furniture that exudes character is an excellent contrast. The fabric itself is free of crisps and creases with an organic texture. So it gives a formal look while adding comfort and coziness to the space and making it look casual at the same time. If you add a small amount of velvet, that makes the space look luxurious and will seal the deal.
You Love Old World Textures
If you’re looking for materials that make the job easy for you, pick leather and lace. Thick rugs are also a good choice that makes it look vintage and cozy. Let the walls have floral patterns with texture. If you can find 3D wall treatment like they used to do back in the day, you have absolutely nailed it. It is whimsical, has aesthetic value and in some parts, is nostalgic.
Lace is a great addition to present-day elements and adds a little romance to the overall look. Think napkins and tablecloths for this. You could also use the same for a shower curtain and throw out the plastic one.
Florals Are Great
Get florals on great drapes and turn the spirit of your shabby interiors around. Florals are inspiring and can give a grand look to a small space, even if it is the bathroom. Florals are a great way to turn a space romantic. You just need to know the right color. And if not the drapes, find a way to add a floral motif to the design through furniture or decor. And if that doesn’t work out either, put a bunch of flowers in a vase. That will work too.
How to Use Shabby Chic Decor In Your Own Home
There are so many ways to incorporate shabby chic into your home. Some of it is subjective but we will give you a few ideas and you can take off from there. Remember that every idea needs a certain amount of input from you so that your home reflects your personality. So let’s proceed.
The first room you see when you enter the house needs some good furniture that will set the stage right away. When we want it to look shabby chic, we’re talking about wooden coffee tables and vintage sofas. It is an inspiring combination in a modern home. Set the coffee table at an angle for a relaxed look. You could also get a slip-covered neutral sofa and elevate it with pillows in any color or pattern. This marks style and comfort in the biggest piece of furniture in the room.
Now for texture and dimension, consider getting a velvet armchair. This is a nice addition to the room itself and is a great corner to cozy up and read a book. It gives the place a relaxed vibe.
If you want accessories, this is the room to run wild with your imagination. As mentioned before, wall hangings are a big hit here. So pick a bunch of art or sculptural pieces with a mismatched set of mirrors. That adds dimension and light to the living room. Rugs and cushions are also welcome. These are great additions to make a place seem homely and inviting. If you like plants, look for palms or cacti. They also add a pop of color against the walls which should be in earthy tones.
Natural light is great and if you have that in your living room, you have lucked out. Sheer curtains are a great way to make sure you have privacy and lighting in your living room. Otherwise, get a couple of vintage lamps in different materials. Think about adding glamor through these lamps. And again, a chandelier on top would complete the whole scene. Minimalist pendant lighting works great. Think about it.
The first order of business here are bed frames and possible canopies on top. Tie them through a common theme. It should look elegant but not like you are trying too hard. That’s actually the essence of shabby chic.
If you can get a distressed armoire, which is a type of a cabinet, the room will have a slightly more traditional feel to it. You can paint it bright or get a dresser in a bright color to offset the balance. This makes that side of the room eclectic. It is also a conversation starter.
Let the bedding be covered in linens. Keep it in the lighter shades but don’t stay away from aggressive whites and creams. Get a few colorful cushions to jazz up the place. Pick a bedspread or a quilt with a fun pattern. These things can be completely mismatched. That makes it wild and once again gets people talking because it has character.
Now, whether you go solid colors or patterns and prints, use as many colors as you can. The idea is to get past clean and simple lines. And that is the beauty of this style.
Woven rugs made of natural materials are a great way to create layers. Keep them away from the bedding and towards the door so that the bed appears large.
It is very important that this place makes you feel as comfortable and soothing as possible. So go with pastel-colored or white subway tiles. Patterned tiles are great for the floor. You could also go with wooden floorboards. An ethnic bath mat will add the extra zing that you so clearly like.
Mismatched dining sets will no doubt look fantastic here. Pair that with a nice used wooden table. Pick a bright tablecloth with a pattern and cover the table with it. Completely white units also work because they throw your guests off. This is not the place to do pastels so forget about them.
The Final Word
This is a style that is known for its furniture and accessories. All of them full of personality and quirk. The best way to start is to use a neutral base like stormy grey or off-white. And from there, let’s go wild. The muted colors will provide a great backdrop for all the crazy mixing of colors you want to do in the foreground.
Wooden floors and furniture are coveted by designers who like shabby chic. This started as a way for the middle-class folks to show their talent without spending too much money. Keep that at the back of your mind and you’ll be fine.
Shabby Chic not for you? Check out the Definitive List of Interior Design Styles that we have to discover what else might be your style.