Shabby Chic decor has its origins in the British countryside and has evolved over the years to fuse elements of other design styles into the mix such as the French Chateau and Shaker styles, however it remains heavily influenced by romantic country and cottage design.
As this country-infused decorating style gained momentum in Britain in the 1980′s, The World of Interiors magazine, a popular decorating magazine at the time, termed the style “shabby chic”, as an alternative to the high end urban style that was also popular. This term was trademarked by interior designer Rachel Ashwell, who went on to author several books about this style and started a line of interior design stores of the same name. The Shabby Chic style gained in popularity in the U.S. in the 1990′s, and remains so in the 2010′s.
Today, common words used to describe Shabby Chic include vintage, antique, distressed, subtle, casual, vibrant and eclectic. Here are some of the common features and items used in Shabby Chic decorating:
- Predominantly lighter and neutral colors which can be accented by darker and heavier colors
- Aged rustic furniture with faded wood or, if painted, multiple coats of paint that is chipped or faded for the “distressed” look
- Upholstered furniture
- For soft furniture, oversized and fluffy is common, with slipcovers that is machine washable to introduce the “faded” look
- Vintage paintings, pastels
- The use of floral arrangements and candles as design accessories
- The use of chandeliers, candlestick lamps, and candles for lighting
- Glassware and silverware can be mixed and matched
- Floral prints and sun-faded patterns on outdoor furniture
The idea behind Shabby Chic is you can incorporate old, used and cheap items into your decorating. To make everything so perfect and clean that people would be afraid to touch anything is not the goal here. Ideally you can mix and match styles and items in each room, and the theme from room to room should not be consistent. The end result should be a home that has that comfortable and lived-in feel.
Any type of material that normally would be wasted can be recycled and spruced up with a little care. Flea markets and yard sales can be great sources of Shabby Chic items and inspiration. There are plenty of online sources that have bargain prices as well. Along with the core principles of the Shabby Chic style you are encouraged to use your imagination to produce your own unique decorations that will look high class but won’t cost you an arm and a leg.