The phrase “shabby chic” sounds familiar to many people, but not everyone knows how to use designer tricks and décor specific to this style in a competent and tasteful way. For a start one should realize that shabby chic interiors are about teaching us to see the beauty in imperfect things: scratchy surfaces, loose paint, stretched laces and metal darkened of the age. Despite the fact that a room designed in shabby chic style may seem carelessly decorated and sets of old cans and boxes, broken photo frames and faded candlesticks look accidental, there’s a very tedious work behind them. So that you could navigate a labyrinth of shabby chic motifs and not get overboard with them, we prepared a list of useful design tips. Here we go!
1,000 shades of white
Shabby chic style implies that you should use light and pastel color schemes. And believe us, it is possible to create a total-white interior and escape a feeling of a hospital ward in the end. In fact, there are dozens of beautiful shades: consider creamy and dusty gray, ivory and alabaster, for example. One more big plus of monochrome interiors is that they give plenty of room for playing with textures: a white shabby chest of drawers would look sweet with white aluminum jugs and a bisque porcelain cup displayed on it, and an arm-chair with whitewashed linen upholstery will be twice as inviting with a white cashmere blanket put on its backrest…
Perhaps, shabby chic style is the only interior style, in which lace details would look most organic. The most vital issue at this point is the sense of moderation: two or three lace pieces are pretty enough for one room. And don’t be too banal and straightforward in adding laces; for instance, by hanging a lace curtain or putting a lace napkin under the flower vase. Use your imagination and display a vintage nightgown on an elegant hook, use lace for finishing the sides of your bookshelves or cover your bed with a macramé bedspread.
To drop the degree of sugar in your home interior, remember to dilute your ornate décor with something frankly brutal. Austere minimalism would be out of place, but a vintage industrial-style item is just perfect; for instance, a rough table with metal legs that seems to have come right from a steel-cast department, or a shabby metal secretaire – a must-have of office interiors of the 1930s. And pay attention to your lights: if the interior is packed with carved frames, porcelain vases and lace curtains, replace some of them with a couple of metal sconces.
Shabby chic style stuff is pretty “active”: aged wood with loose paint, textured porcelain, all carved, lacy and flowery details… For this reason your interior might appear to be too stuffy, even though it’s filled with exclusively functional items. To soften this impression feel free to use transparent accessories and furniture: a glass display cabinet with a metal framework, common jars and flower vases, glass, crystal or plexiglas lampshades of chandeliers and floor lamps and etc.
Today many shops specializing on artificially aged stuff call it “vintage” or “vintage-style”. To be precise, such use of the term is wrong, since vintage things are things made in the period from the 1940s till the 1980s. However, shabby chic style feels good about genuine vintage, antique stuff (anything made before the 1940s) and artificially aged products of our days. Also, it would be worth using old and maybe useless things: a wooden ladder from your summer cottage can be transformed into a floor lamp, for example, an old watering can – into a flower pot, and a few shabby wooden boxes – into a stylish shelving unit. Re-made and slightly processed (cleaned, sanded and re-painted), they would look like costly modern pieces aged on a furniture mill.