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Shabby Chic Living Room - Retro Decorating Ideas

Updated on October 26, 2015

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People who like shabby chic décor tend to stay true to their artistic taste and style rather than constantly switching bandwagons like some trend slaves. "Retro" is a good word to broadly define this form of interior design, and "stylish" might be a perfect term to describe those who adore it. Unlike other vintage styles, shabby chic clearly stands for simplicity and feminine grace. A shabby-chic living room is usually adorned with well-worn yet dainty furniture, natural fabrics like cotton and linen, shades of pastel colors, and décor items that boast a soft feminine touch. If you are planning to decorate your living room in this style but not sure where to start, these ideas may shed some light and inspiration on your decorating project. Put on your interior designer cap and get ready to revamp your living room!


"Shabby Chic" Your Furniture

To create a shabby chic living room, you don't necessarily have to make a trip to an antique store and buy a whole collection of vintage furniture. An antique living-room set can be pretty pricey, but luckily, there's a way to save money on this. Visit a nearby thrift store and buy a few pieces of simple wooden furniture. They don't need to come in a matching set, but they should all have a retro look and seem compatible enough with one another. Then here comes the fun part: paint them all with the same pastel color. White, ivory and pink are probably the most popular colors for shabby chic décor, but other pastel shades will work just as beautifully. The final process is sanding the corners and certain parts of the furniture to achieve the time-worn look. Chipped paint is considered to be very stylish in shabby chic decoration.

Hang Up Decoupage Artwork


In a nutshell, decoupage is a decorating technique done by gluing paper cutouts onto an object surface and coating it with special paint effects. It could be a nice art project to do, or if you don't have time for this sort of stuff, you can buy decoupage artwork from your local gift shops or online, for reasonable prices. Decoupage artwork goes very well with the shabby chic style, as it usually has a very feminine and retro feel. So if you want to make your plain walls look more artistic in a shabby chic way, try hanging up a few decoupage plates and photo frames. They don't need to be of the same sizes and colors but should have the same theme. Some great decoupage themes for shabby chic décor include flowers, shells, wineries, fruits, fairies, gardens and people in old-fashion clothing.

Use Humble Accessories


When accessorizing a shabby chic living room, try not to use too many ostentatious decorations, such as sparkling gold vases or extremely ornate candelabras. Shabby chic is about minimalism and unpretentious charm. So instead of rushing out to a store to buy new knick-knacks, look around your home first and see if there are anything you can adapt into unique room accessories. An old cupcake mold, for instance, can actually be a cute candle holder. Spending more money doesn't necessarily make your living room look more chic. Something antiquated and simple can easily turn into a stylish décor item if placed in the right spot for the right purpose. Doesn't the flower "vase" in the picture above look quite lovely?

Keep It Light and Airy


Shabby chic is the opposite of Gothic décor, therefore a shabby chic living room should not contain any characteristics of a dungeon! If your room looks quite gloomy and cramped, you might want to get rid of your heavy curtains or put the bulky furniture in another room. Lace and sheer cotton are good options for curtain fabric. The furniture should be lean-looking and not take up too much floor space. If your living room has a very limited square-footage, choose furniture that can do double duty. The coffee table in the photo above is a great example, as it also serves as a storage chest.

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Submit a Comment
  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    6 years ago

    @byshea - Very cool! Glad to hear you got some inspiring ideas from this hub :)

  • byshea profile image


    6 years ago

    My wife and I got some cool ideas from this! It helped solve a problem in one of our spare rooms.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @brandimae - Thanks! Glad you like this decorating style :)

  • brandimae profile image

    Brandi Gregory 

    7 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

    I love this!! Decorating shabby chic is definitely a win, all the time!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    Agree! I love that chest, too :)

  • CraftingTime profile image


    7 years ago from Spring Hill, Florida

    This is my style 100%. That white chest in the last photo is BEAUTIFUL!

    Great hub!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    Wow! A late 18th-century home, huh? How cool! I love the architecture and style of that era.

  • creative1975 profile image


    7 years ago from Christchurch, NZ

    Nice hub! We are currently renovating a late 18th century home, so anything to do with interior design - I love to read it.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    Thanks, Paige! Glad you enjoyed the hub :)

  • Paige Ronchetti profile image

    Paige Ronchetti 

    7 years ago from Chicago

    Nice hub! Shabby chic has been so popular lately, which is nice to see. I liked your comparison to gothic décor, too, ha ha.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    You're welcome, midnightbliss. Glad you enjoyed the hub!

  • midnightbliss profile image

    Haydee Anderson 

    7 years ago from Hermosa Beach

    Really enjoyed your hub. I love the Laura Ashley Bell Clip Shade (Floral pattern). Thanks for sharing.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    Yep, totally agree. There's something very romantic about this style of decoration. Thanks for stopping by, GDibiase.

  • GDiBiase profile image


    7 years ago from Portland, ME

    Great Hub! I love shabby chic décor, there is just something so warm and inviting about items that have the time worn look of shabby chic. Thanks for sharing!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    Thanks, louromano!

  • louromano profile image


    7 years ago

    Nice idea sharing ! Great hub.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    I'm glad you like these shabby chic ideas, buckleupdorothy. Thanks for the read and feedback :)

  • buckleupdorothy profile image


    7 years ago from Istanbul, Turkey

    Nice! Clutter-free living is absolutely the way to go, and a comfortable space is a perfect welcome home. A few well-chosen, multipurpose pieces go a long way.

    Rock on.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    I'm glad you like these ideas, Natashalh. Have fun redecorating your living room!

  • Natashalh profile image


    7 years ago from Hawaii

    I love it. Thank you so much! I've been really wanting to redecorate my place shabby chic and your inspirational photos and info are great.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    Thanks a lot, Ruby and Rhian =D

  • Rhian Saadat profile image

    Rhian Saadat 

    7 years ago from Seville and UK

    Enjoyed your ideas. Thanks

  • Ruby H Rose profile image

    Maree Michael Martin 

    7 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

    I love your decorating ideas, very nice!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @Nicole S - hehehe Sorry! I should have made the article a little longer, huh? Thanks so much for the kind words.

    @acliff - Glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks!

    @carolp - That's great. I'm glad you got some inspiration from this article.

  • carolp profile image


    7 years ago from Switzerland

    I am planning to rearrange my home furnitures and bring new accent in my interior. Lucky to read your hub which i could surely apply some ideas of yours. Thanks.

  • acliff profile image


    7 years ago from New York City

    I love this hub and the pictures. Thanks for explaining things so well!

  • Nicole S profile image

    Nicole S Hanson 

    7 years ago from Minnesota

    Nooo, I wasn't ready for the hub to be over yet. I wanted to see more! Beautiful ideas here, I loved reading it!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @Movie Master - Totally agree with you, MM. Something very simple can also be very stylish indeed :)

    @Gypsy Willow - Thanks! Glad this hub has inspired you to do some redecoration!

    @Prasetio - Glad to see you, Pras. I shall write a few more home-decor hubs this year!

    @lisadpreston - Thank you, Lisa :)

    @Simone - That's smart! Cute plates and platters shouldn't be kept in a cupboard. Show them off!

    @Scribenet - Well said! Thank you, Scribenet. :)

  • Scribenet profile image

    Maggie Griess 

    7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    I love shabby chic, mainly because it is inexpensive, but also because one can keep cherished objects as part of the décor.

    I always enjoy your decorating Hubs!

  • Simone Smith profile image

    Simone Haruko Smith 

    7 years ago from San Francisco

    Great point about humble decorations. I like to use plates, platters, and cloches from my kitchen- they look great, and are perfect for displaying small books, knick-knacks, flowers, etc...

  • lisadpreston profile image


    7 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

    I love shabby chic. Great hub!

  • prasetio30 profile image


    7 years ago from malang-indonesia

    My brother, I love all your hubs about home decorations...including this hub. Very inspiring hub and I learn something new from you. Good job and rated up!


  • Gypsy Willow profile image

    Gypsy Willow 

    7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

    Great ideas, I shall update my décor forthwith! Thank you.

  • Movie Master profile image

    Movie Master 

    7 years ago from United Kingdom

    Hi OP, I do like the shabby chic look, I love decoupage and sometimes something 'simple' can look so stylish!

    Thank you for sharing, voting up/awesome

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @jenubouka - Yep, affordable but charming decorations are the best! Glad you like these ideas.

    @randomcreative - Thanks! I tried my best to find cute pictures for this article. I personally love that photo of the watering can/ flower vase.

    @anglnwu - That's my style, too. Thanks for dropping by, Angeline. Hope you had a nice Chinese New Year celebration!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile imageAUTHOR

    Om Paramapoonya 

    7 years ago

    @Peggy W - Yes, I totally agree. It is one of the most affordable styles that allows lots of room for creativity. Thanks for dropping by, Peggy!

    @Seeker7 - Yeah, decoupage rocks! I'm planning to work on some decoupage projects this summer. It should be fun. Thanks for your comment and vote!

    @wymyczak66 - You're absolutely right. It does seem effortless, and that's one of the reasons why people like shabby chic décor, I think.

  • anglnwu profile image


    7 years ago

    Light and airy is quite my style--not ostentatious or gaudy. Love the ideas contained in this hub and rated up. Happy Chinese New Year!

  • randomcreative profile image

    Rose Clearfield 

    7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    Shabby chic is so popular these days. I love the photos that you included.

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    This is awesome and I have that pic in the photo as well! I love old school décor and it is even better to score it for cheap. Love this!

  • wymyczak66 profile image

    Jessie Miller 

    7 years ago from Buffalo, NY

    Nice hub! I definitely love the retro look, it seems so effortless but looks great at the same time.

  • Seeker7 profile image

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Very nice and interesting hub. Shabby chic is lovely especially when done well. I also like the idea of decoupage and shabby chic together. Voted up!

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    7 years ago from Houston, Texas

    Shabby Chic seems to be more popular than ever and how fortunate for people just starting out furnishing their spaces because it can be a very affordable way to go. Nice hub!


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