Don’t let the word "shabby" fool you: the look may be unstructured and lacking in formal rules, but this timeless aesthetic can add an effortless elegance to your home. With salvaged furniture, vintage textiles, and unique handicrafts available in flea markets and retail shops (often as reproductions), you don’t have to search high and low for the perfect piece. You might even have a diamond in the rough right under your nose — a down-and-out piece of furniture just waiting to be repainted and restored! That’s the beauty of shabby chic style; it’s budget-friendly and easy to acquire.
Believe it or not, beanbag chairs are part of that laid-back, shabby chic vibe. Even Rachel Ashwell, who trademarked the term "shabby chic" back in the ’80s, features a few beanbag chairs in her Shabby Chic Couture line. Find a variety of grown up versions from big retailers like Pottery Barn or Pier 1 — most have been updated in sumptuous, up-to-date fabrics and patterns, making these fun chairs the perfect place to curl up with a good book.
Wear It Out
Straight lines and man-made materials don't really have a place in shabby chic dining rooms! Reclaimed lumber can be stripped and made into a table, or an existing piece can be whitewashed for that signature worn, shabby-chic look. Place your table on a faded or antique rug and if you have mismatched chairs, unify them with simple slipcovers or a slick coat of fresh paint.
Ornate frames and framed mirrors can be refinished to display treasured art on the walls. Create a grouping over a sofa or find one lovely specimen that can help with decorating the fireplace: some of these frames are in disguise at flea markets and antique stores. You may find them painted in various shades of metallic or stained dark ebony, but give them a light sanding and a coat of white or pastel paint in pale green or blue and they’ll be ready for their spotlight on the wall.
Whether you opt for a modern reproduction, or uncover a vintage gem, stunning chandeliers are a great way to add a little quirky elegance to a space. Hang one over a table or in the corner of a room for extra light. If your pre-loved find is missing a piece, take a spin around eBay, hit up an old lighting store or browse through flea markets to find the replacement glass or beads you need.
White, sumptuous bedding adds a light, restful atmosphere to the bedroom decor. Look for white-on-white patterns or details accentuated by intricate needlework, like pin tucks. A couple of haphazardly displayed cushions in light, floral fabrics can add a dash of colour if needed. Consider having an old yet still comfy sofa or chair reupholstered in a relaxed linen or cotton twill with an inviting pattern or texture to it. Shabby Chic style isn't about matching all of your prints: the more variety you create in softer shades, the more harmonious and interesting your spaces will feel.
Old dressers needn’t be confined to the spare bedroom... They can also be used in an entrance hall, home office, or dining room as elegant storage options. A sanding, a few of coats of paint and another sanding will give a piece that well-loved look. For that final touch to add extra colour and charm, look for dainty, vintage knobs in mercury glass, crystal, mirror, or hand painted ceramic!
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 2, 2012