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The Shabby Chic Home

Updated on May 7, 2013

Shabby Chic - European Elegance

Although Rachel Ashwell brought the term Shabby Chic to the North American masses the shabby yet elegant style we now know through her originated and has always been a part of European décor.

From French castles to Italian villas and the English countryside, generations of the well-to-do passed their worn, yet comfortable heirloom furniture on from one generation to the next. Though they could easily afford new furnishings and accessories, their attitude was - why buy new when what we have is perfectly fine?

They threw a slip cover over this, a coat of paint over that and voila! A little "shabby" but almost new!

The Shabby Chic style as we know it blends the elegance of French chic and the charm of the English cottage.

Shabby Chic is a romantic, feminine and elegant style which you can easily re-create at very little cost in your own home and an especially fun style if you love to visit flea markets and garage sales.

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The Shabby Chic Palette

The Color palette for Shabby Chic can only be described as soft, muted and romantic. Pastel colors that sooth your soul.

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Tips & Tricks for that Shabby Chic Look

Most of the items for the Shabby Chic look can easily be found in garage sales or flea markets. Keep your eyes open for time worn floral fabrics, old lace curtains, vintage glass cabinet knobs and old enamelware.

However, as the style has gained popularity over the years, it gets harder to find those lovely old pieces. If you have to buy new linens, there are some tricks to making those pieces look old.

For fabric:

Using a large stew pot, fill with water and bring to a boil on the stove top. Throw in 8-12 tea bags. Turn down the heat to simmer, cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Gentle immerge the item you'd like aged into the tea stained water and stir with a wooden spoon.

Let the item soak till the desired color is achieved. Once you're happy with it, drain the water, discard tea bags and remove fabric. Rinse the fabric under cold water. Wring out and hang to dry. Once dry, the item will be left softened with that age worn look.

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Shabby Chic Defined:

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Wrought iron headboards - Overstuffed Sofas with Slipcovers - Open Shelving - Pastel Colored Enamelware - Fresh Cut Flowers - Distressed White Furniture - Old Trunks - Vintage Mirrors

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I Can't Do Without:

The Shabby Chic Home
The Shabby Chic Home

The #1 book in Shabby Chic by the Queen of Shabby Chic herself, Rachel Ashwell. This is a book that I refer to over and over again, not just for me but for my friends, family and clients. It's informative, easy to follow and inspirational. Truly a great buy and a book you'll definitely love!

 
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Romantic floral fabrics, checks and stripes in muted tones - Chalk painted walls in white and pastels - Old doilies, hankies and embroidered linens - Faded quilts - Chenille bedspeads - Delicate china - Vintage hardware - Needlepoint pieces

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Flea Market Finds

Many of the treasures of Shabby Chic can be easily found at flea markets and garage sales. Once you know the style, you'll be able to recognize pieces that with a little love and "aging" will fit nicely into your home decor.

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Shabby Chic Trunks - Click on the links to see more!

Nothing is more wonderful than finding an old battered but romantic looking trunk at a flea market. But when you can't, a new one can still do the trick. Make it old by lighly sanding it or leaving it out in the sun for a couple of days. Fill it with wonderful treasures or use it to display old cameras, antique linens or jewelry.

The Fabrics of Romance

Sweet Dreams in Pastels - Beautiful Bedding You Can Buy Right Now from Amazon

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If it's faded, a little worn or just looks worn but it's still beautiful anyway, it could certainly have a place in your Shabby Chic decor whether you have a romantic seaside cottage or a hip New York loft.

The stye itself is identified by white walls and distressed looking furniture, chenille bedspreads, delicate wrought iron, floral slipcovers, overstuffed chesterfields and crystal looking vases stuffed with fresh garden flowers.

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Vintage Accessories

It's the small things that make a difference. Here's a whimsical and nostalgic looking little salt shaker filled with pearls and decorated with pins and buttons.

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Enamelware

Although the powder blue enamelware is a little hard to find these days, you can still uncover the white "camping" staple in flea markets across the country. Chipped? That's even more authentic.

Shabby Chic Accessories - Buy them Right Now from Amazon

Love these little accessories to start you off on that Shabby Chic style at a very affordable price!

Shabby Chic - Where There Are No Rules

The great thing about Shabby Chic is that any piece of furniture even if meant for another room can be incorporated into any room and not look out of place. Here we have a vanity table with mirror as part of a Dining Room set.

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The Distressed Look

Creating the distressed look from new furniture is not that hard to do. This can be done with wooden tables, chairs, armoires, wooden picture frame and mirrors.

Although the piece shown here has been distressed using two colors, it most probably has been done by a professional and I would recommend using only one color unless you have had previous experience in distressing furniture.

Give the item two coats of the desired paint color in a matte or semi-gloss finish. Once dry, softly sand or use steel wool to rub off the paint on corners, knobs or any other areas that would normally get wear and tear with age. Personally, I like the semi-gloss finish myself, but that's a personal preference.

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Shabby Chic Pieces from Amazon

Here's some affordable little pieces to start you on your way to your own Shabby Chic decor. All it takes is a bit of sandpaper rubbed on the corners, the legs and anywhere there would be normal wear and tear to make your piece look authentic.

Shabby Chic - Love it or Leave it?

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    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 4 years ago

      Wonderful! I love this look and the idea of "recycling" products. beautiful lens.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Absolutely gorgeous!

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      janfran_50 4 years ago

      Excellent article! I'm personally not a fan of the kitsch that has been included under the "shabby chic" umbrella. Your examples and photos are lovely and the kind of furniture and accessories (I've never liked buttons as a design element, though) that I am naturally drawn to. I like industrial mixed with mid-century modern and pre-war mixed with beach house shabby. Thanks for your article!

    • Sugarshack LM profile image
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      Sugarshack LM 4 years ago

      @AlleyCatLane: Thank you & thanks for visiting :)

    • Sugarshack LM profile image
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      Sugarshack LM 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks so much!!! I appreciate it :)

    • Sugarshack LM profile image
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      Sugarshack LM 4 years ago

      @janfran_50: Thanks for dropping by! I enjoyed your comments and I'm also a fan of the industrial/warehouse kind of look. Shabby Chic looks great if you have the right setting.

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      anitabreeze 4 years ago

      Beautiful! I love shabby chic!

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      Sugarshack LM 4 years ago

      @NibsyNell: Thank you !! And thanks so much for stopping by :)

    • Sugarshack LM profile image
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      Sugarshack LM 4 years ago

      @anitabreeze: Thanks Anita!

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 4 years ago from Virginia

      I like the look! COUNTRYLUTHIER blessed.

    • Sugarshack LM profile image
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      Sugarshack LM 4 years ago

      @Countryluthier: Thank you!

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      I love it

    • chi kung profile image

      chi kung 4 years ago

      I wouldn't have it in my home, but here it looks great

    • Sugarshack LM profile image
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      Sugarshack LM 4 years ago

      @Cynthia Haltom: I do too ! Thanks for dropping by :)

    • Sugarshack LM profile image
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      Sugarshack LM 4 years ago

      @chi kung: It looks great in farm houses or older homes I find...thanks!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      Love this look - it is classy and artistic. It is exactly my style. Shabby chic suits me! Pinned to my home board, out by digg and g+ and happy to bless this cool lens.

    • Sojournstar Media profile image

      Angela Hobbs 3 years ago from The TARDIS

      Love it, very nice lens!

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      Lilscoops13 3 years ago

      I love the colors mentioned at the top!! How can I figure out the names for samples?? I am painting my nursery and these are a must have!!!!! :)

    • Sugarshack LM profile image
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      Sugarshack LM 3 years ago

      @Lilscoops13: I don't know the exact color names but I'm sure if you went to your local paint store and told them you were looking for pastels with a powdery hue to them they would be able to recommend them.

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      meandmybabyroom 2 years ago

      Could you do an article about babyrooms in this beautiful style?

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      Jayne Cook 19 months ago

      Hi, Ladies,

      I had already enjoyed the Laura Ashley country style for decades, when I discovered Shabby Chic, it was very familiar to me, as I had already used second hand items for home styling at every opportunity!

      I incorporate brown furniture and pastels into my schemes, as all white in Grey Wales would be folly, to say the least..

      My most recent project has been my smallest bedroom in neutral beige,Rachel Ashwell style beige floral curtains, an ornate gold mirror, antique pine dressing table with vintage tapestry topped piano stool, & pewter cast iron single bed dressed in an old Sheridan botanical duvet set & accented with silver leaf green vintage brocade fabric topping a Lloyd loom ottoman in palest French Grey, which still looks ever so Shabby chic, but still has colour.

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