You might call it shabby chic, country cottage, romantic, eclectic, English country – no matter the terms you use to define it, this aesthetic is simply cozy and pretty. The overall idea is to create an elegant, comfortable, lived-in space that is anything but polished and streamlined using this styles trademark ruffled, overstuffed, homespun, distressed vibe utilizing natural fabrics and materials.
You won't find straight, hard lines or high-gloss finishes here. Shabby chic is all about a playful, quirky sense of bringing together a potpourri of your favourite prints, colours, designs, fabrics and vintage-inspired odds and ends for a home that is uniquely you.
If you're not exactly sure how to get started with this open-to-interpretation design style, start with the essentials:
One simple rule of thumb when it comes to creating your own shabby chic dream is that the entire aesthetic revolves around creating a soft, quaint, calm feeling.
In other words, a piece you might describe as "electrifying" probably isn't going to work in your shabby chic milieu.
Since colour is the common thread which ties all aspects of your décor together, getting your palette right is essential. Avoid intense, super-saturated colours unless you're adding a single pop. Gravitate toward peaceful, desaturated, faded colours – anything that says “pastel”, “vintage” or “antiqued” is in the running. Shabby chic colour candidates include hues like eggshell, antique green, lavender, pale pink, light gray, butter-cream, periwinkle, blue-gray and mustard. Colours that will throw off your whole look include black, bright white, neons and bold jewel tones.
Think Farmhouse, Cottage
Visualizing the inspiration behind a style is particularly helpful when you want to get that style right. Rather than imagining a new piece in a room which you're still in the process of decorating, close your eyes and imagine a bedroom in the type of home that would naturally be filled with shabby chic pieces.
Envision a charming farmhouse filled with quilts and a long, hand-painted harvest table or imagine a country cottage bedecked with calico-print fabrics and metal chairs and stools with ruffled cushions. Re-purposing used furniture comes in handy when looking for great pieces. Distressed wood furniture and traditional pieces which have been painted an unusual colour rather than a natural stain are lovely additions to your space. As for those items you snuggle up in, stock up on quilts, coverlets, cotton and wool throws and duvets. Imagine a fluffy blue-and-cream floral duvet layered over a soft rose-hued coverlet – such a sweet pairing.
You've seen matchy-matchy rooms before. Shabby chic is the ultimate in unconventional decor, so curtains and sofas with identical prints or a colour theme in which everything stems from one single colour – it's not going to work.
The same rings true for shapes and furniture pieces. Avoid purchasing a sofa-loveseat-chair set and buy your pieces separately. Check out local estate sales and antique stores for unique pieces that speak to your style. Have fun with contrasts and you're on your way to a beautifully personalized shabby chic room. Remember, since you're working with muted colours, it's difficult to mess things up. Visualize a space with a cream Queen Anne chair, a soft mustard sofa in a Damask fabric, a distressed wood coffee table and vintage mirrors. Now you're onto something.
Frills and Flowers
Elegant, casual, soft, overstuffed – these décor descriptors illuminate the very essence of shabby chic. Anything with a none-too-refined feminine, homey touch will do. When considering the finer details, look for frills such a bows, pleating, ruching and ruffles. A rectangular pillow with ruffles makes a much more apropos statement than one without. As for your prints, feel free to create a collage by mixing them up. Your go-to designs should include romantic florals with blossoms from large to tiny, ginghams for a more country feel and broad pale stripes for contrast.
Prepare yourself for the shabby chic experience. Not only does it provide days filled with adventure to find special, beloved pieces – the journey offers a true fingerprint of a space which thoroughly reflects your personality. And each piece you so lovingly add to your collection has a tale to tell … now that's
By Tarah Damask