Shabby Chic Decorating Tips

AAA Print

Warm, feminine and inviting, shabby chic combines vintage materials with an eclectic presentation to create a comfortable, friendly style. One of the joys of the shabby look is the emphasis on imperfection, allowing you to use inexpensive items you might already have around the house, or a treasured thrift store find in an entirely new way.

Some of the details that make a style shabby chic include:

  • Pastel colors
  • Lots of white
  • Victorian themes
  • 1940s and 1950s designs
  • Floral designs mixed with other patterns
  • Walls painted with blue, green, yellow or pink stripes
  • Distressed, wooden furniture
  • Wicker, especially if painted and distressed
  • Vintage accessories and designs
  • Mismatched décor
  • Peeling or chipped paint
  • Casual, comfortable feel
  • Shine and shimmer mixed with distressed materials

Vintage Lighting Vintage Lighting Vintage Lighting

In The Bedroom

Your bedroom should be your retreat from the world, a warm, welcoming space to start and end your day. Keep the look airy and romantic with thrift store finds, hand-me-downs, or new bedding with an antiqued look.

As the largest piece of furniture in the bedroom, your bed will be the focal point. Give your sleeping area shabby style by including most of the following bedding:

  • Floral-print quilt or comforter
  • Chenille bedspread
  • Sheets with lace edging
  • Shams, toss pillows and throw blankets with pastel patterns or white lace

Continue the feminine style of your bedroom with gently worn, vintage pieces that make you feel happy when you see them. You don’t want to overdo the shabby look, or make it looked forced, but add to the décor of your room with at least a few of the following:

  • Wall mirror with distressed gold gilt or painted wood frame
  • Vintage lamp
  • Hanging light fixture in a small chandelier style
  • Artwork with floral themes, and antique frames
  • Small, distressed painted table as a nightstand
  • Small upholstered chair near a floor lamp for reading
  • Retro alarm clock
  • Potted plants
  • Lacy curtains
  • Architectural trim on walls or bedframe
  • Bead board trim on the walls

In the Kitchen

Your kitchen needs modern conveniences, but can still have a shabby, vintage appearance. Functional, yet fun, eclectic and mismatched should be your guidelines for kitchen décor.

Incorporate at least a few of the following into your kitchen design:

  • Mismatched wooden chairs with distressed paint
  • Vintage tablecloth
  • Retro-style coffee maker, toaster, blender or other appliances
  • Cheerful curtains with flowers, dots or stripes
  • Brightly colored dishcloths, place mats and napkins
  • Pastel area rug or floor mat
  • Distressed armoire to display colorful serveware pieces such as Fiestaware or majolica
  • Collection of mismatched teacups and saucers
  • Canisters to hold coffee, tea, sugar
  • Wall clock with a design reminiscent of Victorian style
  • Framed artwork with floral, country or vintage advertising themes
  • Open shelves to display dishes
  • Painted cabinets
  • Farmhouse sink
  • Victorian artwork on the walls

In the Living Room

Your living room is probably the most-used room in the house, so make it inviting, casual and comfortable. Think of an English cottage, or a cottage near the sea. The décor is comfortable and worn, but not sloppy or cluttered. Your room should look as if you gathered all the furnishings over many years, not purchased them together to fill the space.

Elements of shabby chic in the living room can include:

  • Beadboard trim
  • Slipcovers on the couch or armchair
  • Overstuffed, casual furniture
  • Vintage chandelier
  • Lots of toss cushions and throw blankets
  • Antique trunk as a coffee table
  • Old wooden door used as a tabletop
  • Victorian-style fireplace screen
  • Wrought-iron fireplace tool set
  • Distressed wooden furniture, or white wicker pieces
  • Curtains with sheer lace, florals, stripes or dots
  • Light-colored area rug
  • Vases filled with flowers
  • Potted plants
  • Metal wire teacart or plant stand used as a table
  • Hanging mirrors
  • Baskets
  • Antique hat boxes
  • Decoupage trays used as tabletops

In the Bathroom

You prepare for the day in the bathroom, so make sure to decorate yours with design elements that make you feel good to see them. Your bathroom shouldn’t be cluttered, so use just a few accessories to give it shabby flair.

  • Thick, shaggy bathroom rug
  • Towels in white, pink, green or blue with embroidered trim
  • Floral, stripe or polka dot patterned shower curtain
  • Vintage light fixtures, chandeliers or wall sconces
  • Ornately framed mirrors
  • Wire baskets to hold washcloths or hand towels
  • Delicate bottles to hold skincare products, perfumes or other toiletries
  • Metal hair brush, comb and mirror
  • Ornately styled trash basket, toothbrush holder and soap dispenser
  • Candles in gold gilt holders
  • Potted ferns
  • Small, wire frame chair in front of the vanity

Shabby chic allows you to mix and match heirlooms, wonderful thrift store finds, furniture that is nice but not perfect, and items that make you smile to see them. Feel free to choose only the pieces you love, and display them in unusual, creative ways. You will feel relaxed and glamorous, and that feeling will extend to all who enter your home.

Last Updated: December 29, 2011
AAA Print

About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

Note: The information provided on this site may be provided by third parties. The owners and operators of this site do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, and compliance of the content on this site. Such content is not and shall not be deemed tax, legal, financial, or other advice, and we encourage you to confirm the accuracy of the content. Use is at your own risk, and use of this site shall be deemed acceptance of the above.