Remember that old song “Secondhand Rose,” about the young woman who seemed to get all of life’s hand-me-downs? Decorating with Shabby chic is using second hand items, and more people are decorating with this style than ever before. Flexibility is key if Shabby Chic is your goal, because the term itself has different meanings depending on who’s using it. It’s kind of like deciphering real estate ads. Cozy might mean a very small house to someone, and to someone else it means pieces of furniture that have a few scratches and a bit of character. The value in Shabby chic is in the original quality of the furniture, making it worth the time and effort to fix it up.
Using Shabby Chic as your home decor means developing a sharp eye for a piece of furniture, fabric, bric-a-brac or other object that might be worn but still has a few years left in it. When you use this style your pieces will have a type of charm that is undeniable. Practically, Shabby Chic finds often have peeling paint, rust, greening as in tarnished copper, or nicks, dents and scratches. The imperfections don’t matter; in fact they add to its charm. The quality that is underneath is what matters.
When prowling secondhand shops and flea markets for your Shabby Chic, look for faded quilts, especially patchwork designs. Keep alert for old fabrics with patterns such as Cabbage Rose, lace curtains and tablecloths, and comfortable overstuffed armchairs that just need a little TLC.
If you would like to learn how to decorate in the shabby chic style, follow these rules:
Look through your storage spaces, and those of relatives, friends and neighbors, for unused furniture, fabrics or home decor accessories. Next, browse flea markets, yard sales and secondhand stores regularly. It takes time, but the results are worth it.
Select carefully a few items to pair with your existing furniture and decor. Paint and whitewash the furniture to make it look distressed and will add to the shabby chic style. To hurry along the look of passing years, lightly sand wood furniture in several places.
Think color schemes that focus on muted gray, white or cream backgrounds. Use accent colors that are a little different like greens and reds. Don’t use neons or bright colors. Those colors are too bright and modern and don’t work with shabby chic. Try to pick out faded fabrics and colors and check patterns. Top tables with old scarves and candles, and put plenty of pillows on the furniture.
Old coffee-table books on gardening and flowers are also a nice touch. The famous wise words from the movie “Seabiscuit”: You don’t throw away a whole life just because it’s banged up a little. Objects with visible flaws, blemishes, nicks, dents, scratches – they all have a home in Shabby Chic design.
This last piece of news is really good news for all of us that have inherited old dishes and decor from family that doesn’t like to throw anything away! Thanks to Shabby Chic design, we can display these blemished heirlooms with the pride our ancestors felt when they were shiny and new.