How To Do Shabby Chic

Shabby chic is tricky, because if you mess the elements together, the room will just look shabby. Know more about this style.

Updated on June 13, 2017 10:06 am

Samantha Echavez

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"Comfort, the beauty of imperfection, the allure of time-worn objects, and the appeal of simple, practical living: These are the cornerstones of what has come to be known as the shabby chic style," says Rachel Ashwell, known proponent of the style and author of Shabby Chic.

"Though some may find the phrase 'shabby chic'—the idea that something 'shabby' (faded and dilapidated) can be considered 'chic' (elegant and stylish)—paradoxical, the two elements go hand in hand," she adds. "Shabbiness, in its shunning of what is too new, modern, or ostentatious, as well as in its rebellion against perfection, is precisely what makes this comfortable look so alluring."

Achieve the simplicity and grandeur of this elegant style through the following steps:


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Mind the colours. According to Ashwell, shabby chic colours "tend to be soft, palatable tones such as seafoam, mint, and celadon greens; dusty roses; pale sky blues; and ivories, creams, and grays that appear to be muted by age, or crisp, clean whites that blend with everything. Brighter or darker colours can occasionally be a part of the look if they are treated with subtlety, combined with white or light, or if they appear to be faded by time."

Push the envelope and experiment with colours and fabrics as well.


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Embrace imperfection. Going for a shabby chic look means not sweating the small stuff. Chipped corners on your desk? Stained surfaces on your mother's old vanity dresser? Cracks and dents on your chair? No problem! Such flaws make for shabby chic furniture.

Go for "materials that are happily vulnerable to the effects of time, weather, and touch, influences that result in discolouration, staining, tearing, shrinkage, and fading. This means using washable fabrics, recovering or restuffing an old sofa or chair instead of buying a new one, combining objects that are complementary rather than a perfect match, and paring down as opposed to adding on," says Ashwell.


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Trust your instincts. Too afraid that a certain accessory or piece of furniture isn't shabby chic enough? Do you feel that you just can't quite make your room as elegant as the shabby chic rooms you've seen here? Just go for it and make your room as characteristically quaint as you can.


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Remember the essentials. While there is no formula to achieving this look, there are a couple of items that have been staples in any shabby chic room. A couple of examples: whitewashed table (could be made from reclaimed lumber), an antique piece of furniture, old-yet-ornate chandelier, chairs in shaggy fabrics, faded furniture, vintage mirror.

Ashwell adds more to the list: "an old trunk, its paint peeling around the edges, given new life as a coffee table; a vase of roses from the garden, a bit wilted, a few petals missing; a slightly rusted flea market chandelier; a scratched-up coal scuttle used as a bread box; an array of vanilla-scented candles adding a warm glow to a cozy room."

Get the Look:

For more photos of inspiring shabby chic interiors, click here.


Share photos and stories of your shabby chic spaces. Email us at hello@cromly.com.

Cover photo courtesy of Sufancy7

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