How to Decorate in Shabby Chic

Shabby chic is a mixture of textures and styles often using recycled indoor and outdoor furniture, fabrics, tablecloths, pillows combined with floral and striped wallpapers, wall hangings, paintings…anything that appears to be old whether it is or not…to transform your living space into a warm and cozy home.  The term was first used by Designer Rachel Ashwell, The World of Interiors magazine, in the mid 1980s and has been a popular decorating style since. The best part of decorating in shabby chic style is that it doesn’t have to all match…it is more eclectic with a lived-in look, which is how I would like to redecorate my home if I were to do it all over again.

Shabby chic reminds me of the Victorian style, also called cottage style, that might be found in bed and breakfast inns in Cape May, New Jersey, or Newport, Rhode Island.  If you’ve every stayed in one or took part in a bed and breakfast tour, you would have noticed that every detail carries the shabby chic theme throughout every room from the shabby chic buffets, shabby chic beds, and even the shabby chic pet feeders.  Examples of shabby chic can be found in the films Moulin Rouge! and Chocolat.

Shabby chic doesn’t work unless the design uses colors to set the mood. Dark or bright colors will kill the effect immediately. Pastels, faded tones, and shades of off white are included in the color scheme coordinated with fabrics and wall coverings of the same. Shabby chic ever uses bright white.

Shabby chic design is often planned around a distinctive piece of shabby chic furniture by picking up the color and texture to explore decorating possibilities to complete a vintage look and feel. I have antique mahogany furniture, Haviland china with a floral pattern handed down to me from my parents, old vintage family photos, and aged tea sets, silver, chandeliers, and crystal pieces among other miscellaneous decorative pieces which combined with shabby chic style furniture would create a new, old warm and welcoming feel to our already warm and loving home.

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