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shabby chic, decor

What EXACTLY is Shabby Chic?

Shabby Chic is a comfortable, casual look using vintage accessories, pastels, and comfortable furniture. While people have been living with old lace tablecloths, dreamy soft floral fabrics, light painted furniture, wrought iron curtain rods with filmy sheer curtains, and colorful fresh flowers for a long time, Shabby Chic decorating style was brought to popularity by Rachel Ashwell.

shabby chic, home decor, vintage decor

Think of visiting with your grandmother, snuggled in comfortable soft furniture. Fresh flowers look beautiful and the soft scent of candles fills the room. A home decorated in the vintage, Shabby Chic style can provide the same sensation for your own home.

Shabby Chic is of no particular style; but, rather balances elegant things with old and worn, shiny silver accessories with painted wooden tables, soft throw rugs with rough old lace.

Here are some of the ways you can use a Shabby Chic decorating style in your home:

Soft Delicate Colors

If you love bold primary colors, Shabby Chic is not for you. Soft white, muted grey, pale pink, and faded green all have a place in a Shabby Chic interior.

Tea Stained Fabrics

Collect fabrics from around the house or buy vintage-looking fabrics even if they’re new. To give the illusion of age, fabric can be made to look old, worn, faded, and soft by staining them with a brew of tea. Be sure to test a piece of fabric first to get just the right shade. You can change something that’s stark white to a soft creamy white– just right for the look.

Combine Patterns and Colors

Combine stripes, checks, and floral fabrics to achieve a warm and inviting look. Gather yardage or fabrics from yard sales and flea markets. You don’t have to follow traditional rules of combining prints, but for easiest mixing keep the background color the same (white or ivory, etc.). Then choose one color to repeat in almost every fabric, such as a soft green or pale pink.

White painted furniture

Almost any piece of wooden furniture will fit into a Shabby Chic interior if it’s painted white. Collect pieces from flea markets, garage sales, and the attic. Spray with white paint, sand off the corners and rough it up a little, and voila – you have Shabby Chic furniture. You’d be surprised how a coat of paint transforms a dark dingy chair or table.

shabby chic

Think Outside the Box

Not every chair has to be sat on. How about using a sturdy, painted straight chair as a table at the side of a bed or sofa or in a corner to hold a vase of flowers? An old picnic bench or trunk can serve as a coffee table. Stack wooden boxes at the side of a chair for books and flowers. Be creative and use what you have.

Here are some other ways to bring the wonderful, warm look of vintage, Shabby Chic into your home.


You can camouflage old, drab furniture and cover up mismatched pieces with soft slipcovers. Whether you have a slipcover custom made, make your own, or buy a throw at a store, you can get just the look you want without investing in a new piece of furniture. Most pieces are covered in white, but soft faded prints will work too. Since you’ll probably want to wash the slipcovers occasionally, be sure the fabric is easy care! How about a cool white look for summer and a warm stripe or floral for cooler seasons?

Overstuffed Upholstery

For a welcoming and inviting look, upholstered furniture in a Shabby Chic interior is comfortable, oversized, wrinkled, with a slipcover.
Sofas are long and chairs are almost big enough to seat two. Delicate prints cover soft throw pillows.

No Iron Needed

A rumpled, wrinkled, but neat look is perfect for the Shabby Chic style. Upholstered or slip-covered furniture should look well-used and very loved!

Architectural Details

Anything old and beautiful will have a place in this style of decorating. Glass doorknobs, pillars, an old mantle, and rusted old iron shelf brackets or hooks can add texture to any room.

home decor, shabby chic, vintage, old, candle holder

The More Rust, the Better

Decorative accessories and wrought iron furniture are perfect compliments to a Shabby Chic interior. If the rust is peeling or flaking off, sand it lightly and seal with two coats of a flat, clear spray varnish.

Delight All the Senses with Flowers and Candles

Add a wonderful glow and delicious fragrance with vintage scented candles. Be sure to have bunches of fresh flowers scattered around, whether in a glass jar or beautiful painted vase. Include pretty books on flowers to add color. Floral prints look comfortable and add texture on soft throw pillows.

Everything Old is New Again

You’ll be happy to know that even the most broken-down or dingy of elegant formal furniture pieces can be adapted to a Shabby Chic decor. If it’s broken, fix it.  Dirty? Clean it up and paint it white. Rusted? Clean it up – but only a little and find it a new home. Is the paint is chipped? You’re in luck.  Mirror scratched?  Scratch it some more.

Because Shabby Chic style is so adaptable, it’s a perfect way to decorate a guest room or family room. With the focus on warmth and comfort, everyone will be comfortable. Have fun putting together your Shabby Chic room.

If you’re falling in love with all things Shabby Chic, be sure to check out some of my favorite blogs for more decorative inspiration!