Summer time — perfect for shabby chic decorating

Pull out anything that looks old and careworn, do some quality shopping at your local thrift store, add a few fresh new accessories, paint it white or in a distressed style, and you have become a professional shabby chic'er!

Shabby chic style has its roots in the countryside where homes feature age-worn items like faded fabrics, old paintings, and furniture with chipping paint. The goal of a shabby chic design is an elegant room that feels casual and inviting. An important feature is the recycling of old furniture, accessories, and fabrics. Besides using items that are showing some wear and tear, new items can also be used if they are distressed to appear more aged.

During the 1980s, The World of Interiors magazine created the term shabby chic to describe this unique style. The term has since been registered as a trademark by Rachel Ashwell, who has authored several books on shabby chic style and founded a company in 1989 by the same name.

Shabby chic basics

The wood furniture pieces in shabby chic style interior design have a rustic quality and feature many layers of paint which can be seen in wear spots on the surface. Newer pieces of furniture often replicate this aged look through distressing or sanding a painted top coat to expose areas of the wood or underlying paint colours. A lot of furniture shops cater for this style at the moment.

Upholstered shabby chic furniture is usually covered in white or very subtly coloured fabrics such as pale yellow, pink, olive, or pale duckegg blue. These furniture pieces are often done in a slipcover style of upholstery so that the fabric covers can be easily removed for cleaning.

Shabby chic fabrics are usually cotton or linen in white or soft pastel colours, and they look as if they have been faded by the sun. Silks are also used in this look. Existing fabrics can be given this time-worn appearance by bleaching lightly or using a tea-stain technique. Patterns are floral, with roses being very popular. These romantic prints are similar to what you might see in cottage style interior design.

Visit flea markets, garage sales, and your attic

Shabby chic is no particular style, but rather balances elegant things with old and worn, shiny silver accessories with painted wooden tables, soft throw rugs with rough old lace. Here are the top tips to your decorating:

Soft delicate colours and flowers

If you love bold primary colours, shabby chic is not for you. Soft white, muted grey, pale pink, and faded green all have a place in a shabby chic interior. Don’t forget to use floral fabrics.

Tea stained fabrics

Collect fabrics from around the house or buy vintage-looking fabrics even if they are new. To give the illusion of age, fabric can be made to look old, worn, faded, and soft by staining them with a brew of tea. Be sure to test a piece of fabric first to get just the right shade. You can change something that's stark white to a soft creamy white — just right for the look.

Combine patterns and colours

Combine stripes, checks, and floral fabrics to achieve a warm and inviting look. Gather yardage or fabrics from yard sales and flea markets. You don't have to follow traditional rules of combining prints, but for easiest mixing keep the background colour the same (white, ivory, etc ). Then choose one colour to repeat in almost every fabric, such as a soft green or pale pink like in this savant Pierre Frey combination.

White painted or distressed furniture

Almost any piece of wooden furniture will fit into a shabby chic interior if it is painted white or in a distressed style. Collect pieces from flea markets, garage sales, and the attic. Spray with paint, sand off the corners, rough it up a little, and voila -— you have shabby chic furniture.

Think outside the box

Not every chair has to be sat on. How about using a sturdy, painted straight chair as a table at the side of a bed or sofa or in a corner to hold a vase of flowers? An old picnic bench or trunk can serve as a coffee table. Stack wooden boxes at the side of a chair for books and flowers.

Be creative and use what you have, otherwise go shopping, this style is very popular in most stores at the moment.

Laurent Billiet

La Maison Chic

(086 ) 2242328

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