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Shabby Chic Decorating Ideas

Updated on April 29, 2015
Shabby Chic Furniture
Shabby Chic Furniture | Source

Describing Shabby Chic

"Shabby Chic" is an interior decorating term coined by Rachel Ashwell in the 1980s. The furniture and décor are chosen for their appearance of wear and tear and age. New furnishings intended for a shabby chic interior are often distressed and purposely worn to achieve the intended look and style of this English or French cottage style interior. The style is toned down by including very feminine touches and white, off white or pastel colors.

It is common to see flea market finds like old mirrors, bird cages, picture frames, dressers, end tables, vintage linens, chandeliers, lamps, hutches, wrought iron furniture, ornate fireplaces and wood detail moldings be re-purposed for this dainty and fun shabby chic look. Flowers and lace are often used for completing this look. A big spray of cabbage roses over the fireplace or used to dress up a window treatment is common. Lacy pillows and hand painting folding screens help pull a cottage inspired shabby chic room together.

One of the best benefits of this interior decorating style is that it can be done on a budget. Since tag sale items, used and worn flea market finds and inexpensive furniture pieces found in the classifieds fit right in with this style, you can pull this look off without killing your budget. Shabby chic decorating is so popular that new items are manufactured as well. Stores like Pottery Barn and even JC Penneys carry this delicate, romantic style. A baby or little girl's bedroom looks wonderful in this style. Shabby chic is so versatile that it can be used in every room of the house.

Shabby Chic Details

Shabby Decor
Shabby Decor | Source
Shabby Dress Form
Shabby Dress Form | Source
My decor
My decor | Source

Shabby Chic Details Help You Get the Look

You are familiar with the saying "it's all in the details"? This is particularly true of the shabby chic style. Dress up your vintage and flea market finds with a coat or white or pastel paint and you will be on your way to creating a luscious shabby chic inspired room. Sanding or rubbing away parts of the paint on a piece of furniture will give it the well worn shabby chic look. Dressers, hutches, end tables, pie chests, bookcases, plant stands, bird cages, room dividers, wrought iron chairs or benches, foot stools, armoires and mantels can be painted and worn to achieve the shabby chic look.

Use fabrics inspired by French linens. Cottons and linens can be aged in a tea bath to stain the linens to achieve the aged and worn look. This is a particularly nice treatment to use on stained linens that you thought were no longer usable. The tea bath hides the stains. Just like distressing furniture, it is okay to distress linens for this look. Bleaching and wearing down fabric to make it look worn is a part of the style. Combine sheer window treatments with flowing cotton and linen. Layering fabrics is a shabby chic technique.

Anything with lace detail and edging is certainly a must! Trying throwing lace edged throw pillows adorned with roses on your sofa to add to your vintage inspired decorating. Adorn a white frame with lace to hold photos, use lace tablecloths and doilies, lace bedding or try chenille bedding which is a fun part of this look.

Flowers, particularly roses, are used in much of shabby chic decorating. Big sprays of silk cabbage roses can adorn a window treatment, roses patterned fabric is great for throw pillows, upholstered furniture, and bed sheets, edge mirrors and picture frames with silk roses, tuck roses into a white vase and arrange them around the base of candle sticks, cover a dress form with rose patterned fabric and fill your bird cage or doll house with silk roses. Combine pale stripes with rose fabrics for a fun shabby chic look.

Shabby Chic Tea Room

Tea Room
Tea Room | Source

How to Pull Your Shabby Chic Look Together

Once you have your painted and worn furniture, a gorgeous chandelier, dozens of roses and many striped throw pillows, how do you put them all together to achieve the shabby chic look? Here are a few tips that will make your cottage style inspired room look fantastic.

  1. Select a color scheme to compliment the worn a vintage furnishing you have found. Keep it light and airy. Paint or paper the room if necessary and then bring in all the largest furnishings. Arrange them to showcase specific items.
  2. Set up your lighting, hang up a twinkling chandelier ensconced in roses, floor lamps placed in corners and next to large furniture pieces. Place small lamps on dressers and end tables. Use floral patterned lamp shades or pastel stripes.
  3. Hang vintage mirrors, photos and pictures. It is important to hang pictures after large items are placed to keep uniformity and symmetry in the room.
  4. Use inviting fabrics like the florals, pastel stripes and vintage linens mentioned above. Hang your window treatments. Cover any tables with doilies or cloths and place your pillows out on sofas and chairs. Drape an antique quilt over an old chair.
  5. Fill in with remaining accessories. Place candlesticks, vintage books, doll furniture, tea cups, vases, picture frames, etc. in appealing arrangements and vignettes around the room. Fill in bookcases with collectibles other than books or combine the books with frames, roses and other elements.
  6. When all else fails copy the looks your love from pictures you find in magazines and books. Get the look you love by learning from the pros.

Happy Shabby Chic Decorating!


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    • cabmgmnt profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Northfield, MA

      Thanks again Lucyebell21

    • lucybell21 profile image

      Bonny OBrien 

      8 years ago from Troy, N.Y.

      Awesome really enjoyed reading about all these great ideas.

    • cabmgmnt profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Northfield, MA

      Thanks Jeff,

      I am glad you like the ideas. I have found incredible stuff at flea markets and what better way to recycle than to use stuff people do not want anymore.

    • Jeff Gamble profile image

      Jeff Gamble 

      8 years ago from Denton, Texas

      Corey - great hub! These are great ideas, and terrific photos too! I am a big fan of shabby chic, and there's nothing like that perfect flea market find

    • cabmgmnt profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Northfield, MA

      Thank you, Traslochimilano!

    • traslochimilano profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      I like it very much..

    • cabmgmnt profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Northfield, MA

      Thanks Moonlake,

      I love the style too and hunting for finds at flea markets and garage sales.

    • cabmgmnt profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Northfield, MA

      Thanks Amy11692,

      I love the look and its fun to do!

    • moonlake profile image


      8 years ago from America

      Love your hub very nice. Like all your pictures. I love shabby chic. It always looks and it's cheap way to decorate. Voted up and shared.

    • amy11692 profile image


      8 years ago

      nice article! very useful and interesting.


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