By Tara Nolan
Don’t let the word “shabby” fool you when adapting the principles of shabby chic style into a room. The look may be unstructured and lacking in formal rules, but this timeless aesthetic can add an effortless elegance to your home. With handicrafts, salvaged furniture and vintage textiles available not only in flea markets, but also in retail shops (often as reproductions), you don’t have to search high and low for the perfect piece. You might even have a diamond in the rough right under your nose – a down-and-out piece of furniture just waiting to be whitewashed and restored. That’s the beauty of shabby chic style – it’s budget-friendly and easy to acquire. Here are some ways you can get the look.
These beautiful accessories will transform a space, giving it the essence of shabby chic style.
Seating you can sink into
Believe it or not, beanbag chairs are part of that laid-back, shabby chic vibe. Even Rachel Ashwell, who trademarked the term “shabby chic” back in the ‘80s, features a few beanbag chairs in her Shabby Chic Couture line. This one from Pottery Barn has been updated in a sumptuous, white, shaggy fabric – the perfect place to curl up with a book.
A well-worn table
Straight lines and man-made materials do not have to reign supreme in the dining room. Reclaimed lumber can be stripped and made into a table, or an existing piece can be whitewashed for that signature, worn, shabby-chic look. Place your table on a faded rug and if you have mismatched chairs, unify them with simple slipcovers.
Antique frames for art
Ornate frames and framed mirrors can be refinished to display treasured art on the walls. Create a grouping over a sofa or find one lovely specimen that can help with decorating the fireplace. Some of these frames are in disguise at flea markets and antique stores – you may find them painted in various shades of metallic. But give them a light sanding and a coat of white or pastel paint and they’ll be ready for their spotlight on the wall.
Give once formal seating a shabby chic makeover
Worn, vintage essential chairs provide the perfect canvas for modern paints and fabrics. Many stores are selling reproductions of various styles, for example, the 18th-century bergère chair, while others charge big bucks for an overhauled seat. Yard sales and antique markets may yield cheaper versions that you can make over yourself.
Light up a room with a chandelier
Whether you opt for a modern reproduction, as shown here, or uncover a vintage gem, stunning chandeliers are a great way to add a little quirky elegance to a space. Hang one over a table or in the corner of a room for extra light. If your pre-loved find is missing a piece, take a spin around eBay, hit up an old lighting store or browse through flea markets to find the replacement glass or beads you need.
Set the table with linen napkins
Bring back the aura of fine dining with linen napkins in a variety of well-worn colours. An old, stained tablecloth that you’re loath to part with can also be cut and sewed into a matching set – minus the stains. This new table setting might even inspire you to pull out your grandmother’s vintage silver and gold napkins too!
Create airy, beachy ambiance in the bedroom
White, sumptuous bedding adds a light, restful atmosphere to the bedroom decor. Look for white-on-white patterns or details accentuated by intricate needlework, like pin tucks. A couple of haphazardly displayed cushions in light, floral fabrics can add a dash of colour, if needed.
Take shabby chic style outside
A little exposure to the elements can inadvertently turn a piece of outdoor furniture into a bona fide piece of shabby chic furniture. This table, for example, would look elegant in the garden surrounded by delicate, white iron chairs.
Make use of well-worn storage options
Old dressers needn’t be confined to the boudoir. They can also be used in an entrance hall, feminine home office or dining room as elegant storage options. A sanding, a couple of coats of paint and another sanding will give a piece that well-loved look. Look for dainty, vintage knobs to add colour and charm.
Serve tea in vintage cups
Fine china can add whimsical sophistication when entertaining. Use vintage tea cups to hold everything from tea and punch, to sugar cubes and bonbons. If you’re on the hunt, mismatched cups and saucers can be charming, but be careful of the poor little vessels that have been filled with wax to make teacup candles – one use for teacups that we’re not so sure about.