It is almost 30 years since World of Interiors coined the phrase ‘shabby chic’ and there is no doubt that this is now one of the most desirable interior styles. Its origin lay in a natural evolution from the English country house (with a bit of Swedish and French chateau thrown in), but shabby chic is now a distinct style with its own creative lexicography. It’s a style at ease in most homes, but if you haven’t inherited a country house filled with beautifully designed, but old, well used furniture, it can be quite difficult to achieve from scratch. They key? In a word – flowers.
The balance between shabby and chic isn’t always easy to obtain, but it does place an emphasis on style and construction; shabby chic pieces are solid and well made, often with exquisite details, the style of the piece is always chic, only the finish is shabby.
One way to adapt your interior to this style is to use simple prints in faded colors and choose coffee or side tables (preferably both) with a distressed finish. Shabby chic tables are always wood, but typically painted, usually in white or pastel colors and occasionally embellished with a design. Floral accents are ideal, again in soft colors such as pale pink, or sage green. Full blown roses, hydrangeas and other cottage garden flowers in distressed containers, or grouped in floor standing florists buckets are the ideal ornamentation.
Why is shabby chic so popular? Possibly because it is both grand and friendly; it’s ideal for conservatories, living rooms and bedrooms as well as hallways, and as a showcase for timeless design. Floral chintz’s on furniture with botanical prints on the wall, and if your sofa is plain, so much the better, simply add a collection of feminine pillows.
Accented with pink, your shabby chic interior is a cottage style, accented with pale blue or duck egg, it belongs near the beach, where distressed console and coffee tables can be home to collections of sea shells and vases of palest blue hydrangeas.
The centerpiece of a shabby chic living room is the perfect coffee table; whether it is round or square is not important, what matters is that the table have a pale, painted finish which has been lightly distressed. Add subtly distressed side tables to complete the look.
A painted garden bench make great interior seating in a conservatory, smother it with soft cushions and if you can’t afford art work, stretch some floral or lace fabric over a frame. This style cries out for vintage accessories, so visit antique and thrift shops and remember that if you find something that looks perfect, only the colors are far too garish, you can always paint it white or cream and it will blend straight in. Add plenty of potted plants and a collection of small ornaments, gathered together on a tray for the perfect, ‘shabby chic’ home.