Guides

What is Shabby Chic? And How to Create it in Your Home

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Shabby chic is an interior design style characterized by a whimsical blend of rustic decor, femininity and soft, neutral tones. For the past three decades it has been one of the most popular design trends in the world. 

Rachel Ashwell, pioneer of the aesthetic, once described the shabby chic formula as: ‘cozy, comfortable, vintage and pretty.’

It’s about giving the appearance of age with vintage items and those made to look worn (think: distressed paintwork or whitewashed pieces like our Whitewash Fretwork Side Table). But there is a fine balance to be struck between a room looking lived in and being elegant. 

When did shabby chic begin?

The term ‘shabby chic’ was first coined by World of Interiors magazine in the 80s. The idea behind it came as a defiant and deliberate contrast to the flashiness of 80s corporate interiors. 

Rachel Aswell, a British stylist living stateside, is responsible for bringing the shabby chic aesthetic to the global stage. She opened a home furnishings shop in California focussing on vintage decor, namely: upcycled, cheap and cheerful flea market furniture – which became hugely successful. 

How to create shabby chic decor in your home

Using Rachel Ashwell’s formula, let’s take a look at what works best when it comes to shabby chic interior design.

Cozy

The shabby chic colour palette consists of neutral tones: white or off-white and chalky pastels. These muted hues promote warmth and serenity and, coupled with soft lighting, set the tone for the ultimate safe haven.

Candles and tealights are perfect for creating ambiance, and our Winter town houses do just that. 

Comfortable

Cottons, linens and other soft or organic fabrics make up the shabby chic nest. The key is to avoid crisp, starchy fabrics as well as too many sharp or straight edges on furnishings. Curved and rounded chairs and sofas can be contrasted with dressers or desks, as long as the latter are more rustic in style than they are contemporary.

Our oak table top stool with a square top and perfectly rounded legs, strikes the perfect balance.

Vintage

Shabby chic doesn’t have to mean antique. If you want to furnish your home with antiques or genuine vintage pieces (although what constitutes vintage is always up for debate) that’s fine. But you don’t need to splurge on expensive antiques to do shabby chic successfully. You can simply upcycle second-hand items or buy new vintage-inspired pieces. 

With our gorgeous recycled elm coffee table you have the best of both worlds: a newly-made item using reclaimed wood. You’re shopping and saving the planet at the same time, it’s win win!

Pretty

The theme of femininity runs deep through the concept of shabby chic. This can manifest in myriad ways, but typically we see pastel (or neutral) colours, faded florals and cute detailing. 

You’ll find our signature heart detailing dotted throughout Pretty Little Home’s kitchenware, as well as polka dots and delicate floral designs. 

Decorating tips for shabby chic interiors

Pretty Little Home has a wide variety of homewares to get you started on your shabby chic design journey. But here are a few other tips for nailing the aesthetic:

  • Go for a neutral backdrop (white or off-white walls) free from decorative elements. Then furnish with personality pieces, eg: a turquoise dresser against a beige backdrop.
  • Visit flea markets or charity shops. You can pick up super cheap items which can then be upcycled (as well as genuine antiques for next to nothing).
  • Add layers and textured details (rugs and throws of differing textures).
  • Embrace mismatching. Mix the cheap with the artisanal – for example, dining room chairs made from recycled wood with luxurious upholstery.

If you don’t like the idea of second hand, Pretty Little Home has you covered. Our homeware is affordable yet hand designed and crafted with care. Love the space you live in and order some beautiful items from us today!

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