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Decorating with flowers: Shabby Chic

Updated on April 18, 2012

What's Chic about Shabby?

at first glance, the words 'shabby' and 'chic' seem to be contradictory, but contradiction isn't necessarily a negative thing, and in his case it has given birth to a style. That style, shabby chic, depends on flowers.

Flowers add that extra something to a room. Sometimes it's just a splash of color, sometimes its a change of texture, sometimes its a tinge of brightness in a dark corner. It doesn't matter what your style is, the right flowers can help you achieve it.

You can't do shabby chic without flowers.

But, if you use the wrong flowers, the result will just be shabby.

Flowers, the essence of Shabby Chic

Shabby chic is a style heavily influenced by the 'great houses' of europe, and most especially the UK. As antique furniture and decor has passed down the generations it has slowly become more and more shabby with age. Despite the need for refurbishment, there is always the fear that any alteration would destroy the value of an antique, hence the slow evolution of a style where form, age and provenance were more important than scratches, or a perfect finish.

Shabby chic relies on beautifully made furniture which through love and use is no longer pristine. A priceless teaset which has never been used cannot be shabby chic. A tea set made up of beautiful plates, cups and saucers from many different high quality sets, unmatching, but each one a joy, is the essence of the shabby chic style.

As a result, shabby chic has been heavily influenced by the English country house style. The perfect flowers for the shabby chic style are those which, in another age, the servants might just have brought, fresh picked from the gardens. They are arranged in interesting vases and pots, and appear in every room, overflowing their containers, filling the house with scent and without a shred of formality.

Orchids, despite their elegance, can never be shabby chic.

Hydrangeas can never be anything else.

Rose, Mum & Hydrangea Arrangement, Burgundy/Wine
Rose, Mum & Hydrangea Arrangement, Burgundy/Wine

Roses, hydrangea and raspberry - could have come straight from the garden. Give your room a rich look of shabby chic with this deep red arrangement.

24" Rose, Hydrangea and Dahlia Silk Floral Arrangement with Resin Urn
24" Rose, Hydrangea and Dahlia Silk Floral Arrangement with Resin Urn

Dahlia's fresh from the garden, combined with roses and hydrangea, the essence of summer shabby chic. Don't hesitate to add this to your perfectly shaped but no longer pristine furniture, and bring everything right up to date.


How to Achieve Shabby Chic - Out with the shabby, in with the chic!

The typical 'shabby chic' interior is filled with light colored furniture, often with a painted finish; for many the chief delight of shabby chic is that you can DIY to achieve the style, in fact some say that DIY is the only way to achieve it!

Typical shabby chic colors are off white, vanilla, grey and palest pink, though some go further.

If you have a lovely wooden table that has wonderful curves or mouldings, but is well past its best, then perhaps it's time you experimented.

Sand the table and apply an undercoat, then a topcoat of an appealing color. Brilliant white is too white, but you'll find lots of just off white shades you can use, magnolia, cream or pale grey. Pale lilac is another shade which lends itself well to the style.

If your table has mouldings, choose another color to highlight these, but rather than applying it perfectly, apply it witha very dry brush so only the relief picks up the paint,and if you like rub some of it off. When you furniture is finished, you might like to stencil it, very lightly, with floral design but be sure to make the colors look faded from the start.

Another way to achieve a shabby chic finish is to apply another color over the top of your final coat, and then partially to rub it off, or try the reverse. Paint your table off white and then sponge on a pale grey and blend then two together.

If the final version looks a little too perfect, rub it again with a little sand paper.

Other way to achieve shabby chic is to try decoupage, again is the colors are too strident you can apply a coat of paint, watered down, over the decoration.

(1) It's not hard to do,

(2) Once done, all sorts of different pieces of furniture will match when they didn't before

(3) It doesn't cost much

(4) It's fun!

Here are some books which will tell you more about to make your rooms, furniture and decor, shabby chic.

Do you like shabby chic, or is it too feminine and girly for you?

See results

No patience - When you just can't wait to get some shabby chic into your home, the good thing is that you can buy some pieces of furniture ready made.

Home Accent White Wood Carved Top Sofa Console Table
Home Accent White Wood Carved Top Sofa Console Table

Every room needs a sofa table, and every hall needs one of these long narrow tables to carry a pair of lamps and a lovely vase filled with roses or hydrangeas.

Retro Vintage Canister Set ~ Kitchen Storage Canisters E8 Decorative Containers ~ Shabby Chic Pink Enamel with Shabby Antique Rose
Retro Vintage Canister Set ~ Kitchen Storage Canisters E8 Decorative Containers ~ Shabby Chic Pink Enamel with Shabby Antique Rose

You may have a classic kitchen, but what's to stop you adding a little shabby chic in the small things? A touch of pink never hurt anyone!

Laura Ashley HTV080 Turville 8-Light Chandelier, Meringue
Laura Ashley HTV080 Turville 8-Light Chandelier, Meringue

And the final touch to any shabby chic room, the chandelier, preferably floral



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