The timeless charm of shabby chic interior design has ensured that this is more than just a passing fad. In fact, the term is so well-known that it was recently added to the Oxford Dictionary due to its worldwide use and rise in popularity since it was first coined by Rachel Ashwell back in the 1980s.

In general, shabby chic refers to furniture or furnishings which look and feel like they have been well used over the years. From worn painted chairs to faded floral tablecloths, this is a fashionable choice which connects people to a past they may not have had.

Designs are typically inspired by French country furniture, Louis XIV antiques and Mediterranean decor. Scratches, dents and other imperfections are seen as giving character rather than detracting from the look of a particular piece. Due to its eclectic, jumbled and quirky style, shabby chic is at the opposite end of the interior design spectrum to the straight lines and bare surfaces of minimalism.

New Life to Old Furniture

Shabby chic first originated in the 80s through the increased popularity of worn furniture and antiques in the home. Traditionalists believe that true shabby chic decor should be aged naturally through constant use over time. These items require some patience to find as they can only be purchased at the following locations:

  • Flea markets
  • Auctions
  • Garage sales
  • Antique stores

Thus shabby chic is not an interior design which can merely be created. It takes time and hard work to produce with final results reflecting the individuality and expression of the home dweller. For a more detailed list of suggestions, check out our blog post on the topic.

Premade Shabby Chic

These days, the shabby chic style can be obtained by modifying new furniture to give it an older look. In order to evoke “a more romantic era, the end of the empire, [and] decaying mansions,” these newer pieces have to undergo the following treatments:

  • Distressing the wood by painting and then sanding to reveal the lower layers.
  • Adding chips, cracks and other damage with a hammer, chisel or wire brush
  • Fading the material through bleach and chlorine neutraliser solutions
  • Staining the fabric by leaving it to soak overnight in a tub of tea

When shopping for these premade shabby chic items, look for muted or threadbare fabric, worn wooden surfaces and ceramics with irregular patches. Some furniture dealers even scrub the wood with cloth, water and sand rather than sandpaper to give it that worn, oft used appearance. Care must be taken not to cause too much damage however, otherwise the chic disappears and the final item is just shabby.

More than Just Fashionable

Shabby chic is a great home design choice for those on a budget. Items are generally very affordable compared to more contemporary household furnishings. This is because they are made without the grand sense of scale found in modern day interior design. Rather, a room designed in the shabby chic style aims for a jumbled, quirky appearance where many small parts make up the whole.

This is also a style which is great for those with pets and/or children. Since the items are damaged or distressed in the first place, there is no need to worry about accidents happening at home. If something does get knocked over, the added ding or dent will simply add character to an already eccentric piece.

Another reason for the popularity of shabby chic is that it makes housekeeping a lot easier. While minimalist decor abhors dust, grease and grime, shabby chic furniture gains appeal because of these factors. A slightly stained cloth or worn edging can improve the look as can small additions such as dried flowers, candle stubs, etc.

Shabby Chic Tricks

When creating a shabby chic interior design, it is important not to rush. Since these items are highly eclectic, care must be taken that the pieces chosen for a room fit together in a harmonious yet quirky fashion. With patience, it is easy to look everywhere from online catalogues to flea markets and create an interior decor that suits your style piece by piece.

Also remember that the perfect item may be just under your nose. Old furniture can be restored and distressed to give the perfect look. This makes shabby chic an excellent way to upcycle – converting old items into new ones of better quality – and reduce waste at the same time. If you are seeking an environmentally friendly way to improve your home interiors, this is the answer.

Lastly, always know what you are looking for. When shopping for shabby chic home accessories, it pays to be creative, thinking outside of the box and using items in a different way than they were originally intended. For instance, old doors can be used as room partitions, bathroom mirrors can be hung in the kitchen and lace curtains can be used as a tablecloth. With a little imagination, you can even modify your furniture, turning it into true shabby chic style with some added wallpaper, glass knobs and gold leaf.

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