“Shabby chic” is a decorating style phrase coined by an entrepreneur named Rachel Ashwell in the 1980s. It has come to describe a relaxed, laidback aesthetic that is dreamy, soft, and comfortable. It takes directly from how people would decorate their vacation and country houses, using cast-off furniture from the main residence and breathing new life into them in various ways. Done well, it can be a warm and inviting look for any home, including yours. Below are some shabby chic ideas to help get you started:
Start with Shabby
The shabby part of “shabby chic” refers to accumulating pieces that have an antique and weathered quality to them. Homeowners with properties along the coast, in the country, or up in the mountains would usually fill them with old but sturdy furniture suitable for entertaining but not necessarily looked at full-time. As a result, leftover furniture or cast-offs when a piece is replaced at the main house are the backbone of this frugal style. Pieces are lived-in, even slightly worn, but never tattered. Couch cushions that are beyond repair can be re-stuffed, salvaged with new slip covers and reupholstered, for example. The idea is to make the most of things that you already own. When going shopping, look for vintage pieces with an obvious patina of time.
Keep the Backdrop Neutral
You’re going to fill your rooms with quite a bit of clutter, so start with a background in a color that is pleasing to the eyes and keep a majority of the room in the same color palette. This helps keep the space from feeling too crazy, outlandish or stressful. Pale pastels in blues and pinks or neutral whites and its derivatives will be your closest friends. Try to keep the home feeling like a soothing place to be, so avoid using too many loud colors.
Flirt with Florals
Flowers are a lovely addition to any home, whether they’re fresh or in patterns. A hallmark of the shabby chic style is employing smart use of floral accents in order to impart a dreamy countryside feeling that isn’t stifling or outdated. Floral country-style silk curtains add a touch of lightness to any room. Accent items such as throw pillows and painted vases draw the eye and provide splashes of color.
Stuff It Up
“Overstuffed” is a keyword you’ll often find in shabby chic. Interiors are welcoming and comfortable, giving off the feeling that you can put your feet up any time or take a nap anywhere. Reupholster old furniture to make it look as though it’s bursting at the seams, giving off the illusion of sitting on a cloud. Choose fat, huggable throw pillows and accent pillows. Chairs should be big, sturdy and comforting – the kind that you could spend a whole day reading in.
Nest in Nature
Shabby chic is inspired by vacation home design, a place to get away from it all. Keep the spaces open and airy and let light flow in naturally from the windows. Create a seamless transition between the indoors and outdoors by bringing plants and succulents in to clutter surfaces, using a lot of wood in both storage and furniture, and incorporating other natural materials like stone and clay pottery.
With our tips, you’ll be striking the perfect balance between shabby and chic easily. Focus on warmth and comfort, and you too can feel like you’re living in a peaceful house in the country full time.