Shabby chic furniture as an interior design style was first recognised and named in the late 80s. Even though relatively modern in conception, the ‘look’ is actually made up of a combination of vintage, antique styles with elements of both English and French country homes. The great thing about this style of furnishing is that you can find shabby chic furniture just about anywhere, or it can begin life as any new item and simply be distressed to achieve the same effect.
You don’t need to go all out with this style, just a few choice pieces of furniture will soften your surroundings and create an inviting, comfortable living space. Key items of shabby chic furniture to look out for are old painted chairs, armoires (a type of French cupboard), rustic tables and old-looking French furniture. A few pieces dotted around the house will provide a subtle, fluid theme – you can add extra pieces as required, depending on how far you want to take the look.
One of the typical characteristics of shabby chic is the multi-layered paint look, where scuffs and wear reveals the bare wood or other muted, pastel tones underneath. The French furniture of this mode tends toward detailed hand carvings and large, robust beds; the sophistication of these items adds a feeling of quality to balance the fact that it’s a little ‘rough around the edges’. The main thing that distinguishes shabby chic from a more traditional antique French furniture look is the addition of soft floral prints and linens that look aged and well-loved (often achieved using bleaching or tea-staining techniques).
If you want to focus on just one room, you don’t need to go crazy – just choose a few pieces of furniture; a chest of drawers, an intricate mirror, a chandelier or perhaps the favourite French furniture item, the chaise lounge. It’s such a versatile interior design style that you can choose a few items of furniture and fit them in with your existing furnishings.
So if you think this is the style for you, start off with a piece of shabby chic that you really love; then add a few more, some lace and floral accents, a bit of French furniture and watch your home as it gently transforms into a beautiful country-like retreat. As with most converts to this style, you’ll probably find your shabby chic furniture collection grows to quite a size.