Shabby Chic

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THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO SHABBY CHIC INTERIORS

Boasting an enviably chic, I-woke-up-like-this-vibe, shabby chic interiors can rightfully feel a little intimidating to try one’s hand at. But when equipped with a few tricks of the trade, we promise, the ruffled-but-not-too-ruffled look is delightfully easy to master. So, if you dream in shades of whitewashed white, think chandeliers are game for every room in the house, and are partial to believing that everything looks better with a slip cover, read on! We’ll show you the ins and outs of nailing the shabby chic look.

THE ANATOMY OF SHABBY CHIC STYLE

Whether you crave a full-on shabby chic love shack or just a shabby chic bedroom, the look is easily replicated by honoring a few key traits. Mix and match from the list below to get the romantic and artfully rumpled look!

White Out

If you’re among those who thinks the color white errs on the side of “safe” or even worse, “sterile,” think again. When used in shabby chic interiors, white transcends its normal connotations of a yawn-worthy neutral, and instead feels fresh and, get this—warm. The key to luring out the avant-garde side of white? Use it in excess. White walls and whitewashed floors set a prime stage for shabby chic home décor, allowing the style’s signature details—like floral-pecked prints and gracefully-draped upholstery—to take center stage. If you love the idea of going white-on-white, but can’t help thinking an all-white living room would regulate you and your family to year-round outdoor living (and possibly hazmat suits), try opting for a monochromatic palette in another mum (but slightly pigmented) color like foggy gray or blush.

Florals, Chintz & Ruffles

At its core, shabby chic style works to evoke a sense of faded elegance—think of it as the equivalent of a basket full of white, sun-faded laundry hung on a line, or a crumbling urn full of unruly delphinium. In real life, the romance of these objects can be emulated with layers (and we do mean layers) of fabric. Some easy ways to work it in? Opt for floor-to-ceiling curtains whenever possible, looking for quintessential shabby chic materials, like eyelet lace, stone-washed linen, or good ol’ trusty cotton. In a shabby chic bedroom, pile the bed high with more of the same (a literal interpretation of cloud 9 should be your aim) and don’t forget a petticoat bed skirt. Other places that are game for a little chintz-up? Don’t be afraid of wallpaper. Break it up with a whitewash chair rail if you have reservations, though.

Oversized Elements

When it comes to shabby chic furniture, upholstery pieces tend to assume large, roll-arm silhouettes, while case pieces and tables lean towards slenderer French Provincial or shaker styles. You might think the flowery French style or simple shaker style would be upstaged by oversized couches and armchairs, but because these pieces are often slipcovered, they manage to deflect much of the attention. However; to prevent your upholstered shabby chic furniture from feeling too much like an anomaly, try working in other large-scale architectural elements for balance. Whether it be an ornate fretwork screen (you’d be surprised how well a Moroccan screen painted white works here), an oversized birdcage chandelier, or a double-wide floor-to-ceiling mirror, these oversized elements will anchor your seating and lend a theatrical flair, a token element of the shabby chic style.

Painted Furniture

Perhaps the easiest way to obtain shabby chic style? Take your furniture and paint it. While some will maintain that shabby chic furniture is purely French in style, we think virtually any dresser can be rendered a shabby chic dresser with a coat or two of paint. To get the full effect, paint several furniture pieces (such as a dining table and a cast of ramshackle chairs) in an identical hue and try a rough-hewn distressing technique to further unite the pieces. Will the effect rival a brand-new designer set? No, of course not, but it will look equal parts synchronized and carefree—which when you think about it, is the shabby chic mantra in a nutshell. Although it probably goes without saying, try to stick to light and airy shabby chic paint colors, which won’t weigh down your room.

Mismatched Collections

Many think of shabby chic style as a clutter-heavy style, but when done right, it actually sticks to fairly minimalist bones. Rooms are often dominated by key pieces like beds and sofas, while other elements, like art, are eschewed in favor of less attention-commanding items like mirrors. Shabby chic accessories, then, have the job of imbuing a room with personalization without adding too much noise. To do this, try rounding out your space with collectable items like colored bottles, cloth-bound books, or miniature oil paintings. Group like-minded items in small vignettes to maximize their impact, and don’t get too focused on the placement—there’s something about shabby chic style that makes “strewn about” a perfectly acceptable adjective for once.