Romantic, feminine and very affordable, shabby chic brings the charm of time-worn treasures into your home.
Shabby chic first appeared on the Australian design scene in the 1990s, and was quickly embraced by home owners seeking a soft, gentle decor that evokes memories of yesteryear.
If you're not familiar with the style, shabby chic is characterised by ‘distressed' furnishings with the softened appearance of age – a sort of ‘worn with love' look. It embraces authentic colour palettes of pale ivories, luscious creams, teal and gentle pastels or the natural tones of bleached timber. The characteristic that brings the look together is the celebration of original pieces that bring a special slice of history to your home.
Relish the thrill of bargain hunting
As it hinges around giving aged items a new lease of life, shabby chic is very eco-friendly, and it can be tremendous fun rummaging through op shops, flea markets and recycle centres to find bargain-priced individual pieces ripe for rejuvenation.
Best of all, shabby chic is enormously budget-friendly. It's all about bringing one-off pieces back to life with some gentle sanding and a few licks of paint or whitewash, so it's possible to decorate your home in shabby chic on even the thriftiest of budgets. And because you're aiming for a worn look, you don't need to be a dab hand at furniture restoration.
Embrace minor imperfections
When it comes to choosing pieces of furniture, don't shy away from items showing signs of wear and tear. These imperfections are part of the charm of shabby chic. Once you find a fabulous piece – like a rustic dining table or well-worn dresser, check that it is structurally sound. Older pieces can be a little wonky so be sure to tighten any screws of nuts. Follow this with a thorough clean, then roll up your sleeves and get to work sanding back any chipped paint or varnish. An electric sander is quicker if you find multiple layers of paint to peel back, but sanding by hand will leave a softer finish and is far more forgiving on older timbers.
If you're happy with the original paintwork, a light sand may be all that's needed to create a worn look. Or give pieces a sympathetic makeover with a wash of paint - milk paints are excellent for recreating authentic shades.
Allow time to develop your shabby chic decor
Achieving shabby chic style doesn't have to involve redecorating your entire home. Start out with a few hallmark items and build your style from there. That's part of the excitement of shabby chic – gradually bringing the look of yesteryear into each room when you chance upon furniture or accessories that have their own unique story to tell.