The Ultimate How-to Guide for Shabby Chic
Welcome to the ultimate how-to guide for shabby chic! Whether you’ve admired this trendy, yet traditional, white décor in department stores and have shunned the price tags, or tracked down every flea market and secondhand shop in your area without luck, we’re here to show you how shabby chic can be an easy and crafty do-it-yourself project to restore your house into a home. It’s time to dig out your overalls, grab a paint brush and get to work!
Shabby chic is all about distressing your furniture, not your mindset; so have fun, enjoy the process and start collecting little things you like, piece by piece, until you have the home of your dreams! There is no right or wrong way to design a shabby chic home, and the beauty of this décor comes with injecting your own personality and style into each room as you go. This way, your home will become an effortless and classic piece of inspiration that will bring joy and happiness to all.
What is Shabby Chic?
The best thing is: no one really knows! This style of decorating brings together so many other styles that it creates its own unique flavor. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of interpretations, some of which include cottage chic or shabby seaside chic, but only you will know what works for you and your home. You might not even know what the end product will be when you start; it can be an exciting adventure!
Basic elements of shabby chic traditionally have:
A light, bright and airy color scheme
Dainty flower or lace embellishments
A feminine, homely feel with attention to small details
Somewhat of an aged look – the more tattered, the better
Large, unmatched furniture that can be collected over time
Other than that, it all comes down to you and what you like!
Shabby Chic Ready Made Products
But what about examples of ready made shabby chic products that you can buy? Well here are 4 examples below!
Shabby Chic Essentials
Overalls or messy clothes: Shabby chic is not for the faint of heart, so make sure you have something to wear that you don’t mind getting messy!
High quality brushes: You can pick up paint brushes from most DIY stores for as little as a dollar, but if you can, try to spend a little more for a professional finish.
A box: To collect fabric trim, sequins, flowers or anything else your heart desires.
Time: Set some time aside to complete each project piece by piece.
A can-do attitude: Shabby chic is about rolling your sleeves up and having a go! The results are only limited by your imagination!
Start Small to Go Shabby Chic
By starting small, you can get a feel for this style and watch your home transform, all on a budget!
Change bedlinen to a white, cream or ivory color scheme – extra points for lace and frills!
Add candles, flowers and soft, romantic touches to each room
Bring the outdoor in and add pebbles, rocks and shells to bathrooms to soften the room
Cover chairs, pet beds and other pieces in new, brighter fabric to renew a room
Change light bulbs and lampshades to create a warmer environment
Move existing furniture around to create more space and a Zen-like feel
Choose a focal point in the room and overdecorate with your favorite things
Encourage family members to collect pieces they like and want to share
Add baskets for practical storage solutions or to simply hold freshly picked flowers
Choose floral fragrances to enhance your home
How to Paint Shabby Chick Furniture
We have all seen the beautiful white, distressed furniture that is so classically shabby chic, but these pieces often cost their weight in gold to buy directly from a shop. Did you know you can achieve the exact same results from existing furniture for a fraction of the price?! We are going to show you how to turn your dresser from now to wow, with a few simple steps and less than $50!
Find a piece of furniture you want to distress. We are using this classical, yet outdated dresser. Distressed, or distressing, simply means you are going to make it look worn or faded, so if the piece you have in mind all ready has a few bumps and knocks, so much the better! Find pieces around the home or buy secondhand online or from local charity shops and garage sales to help stick within budget.
Today we’ll be using this:
We took off the handles using a screwdriver. Unlike other guides, we won’t be sanding today! Instead, we will be using a high-quality primer to save hours and effort. Zinsser cover stain oil-based primer sealer in 16 ounce spray is perfect for this kind of work and gives the same effect as if you’d spent all of that time sanding!
A good primer will give the wood the right surface for painting directly. You can use one or two layers, just make sure to let the first coat dry fully before adding the second!
Use a mask and spray the furniture outside
Allow plenty of time to dry – this is great for a Sunday afternoon
Make sure to coat the entire piece, including legs and sides
Start painting! No really, it’s as simple as that. I recommend using Rust Oleum American Accents Spray, as their collection is so pretty and has all the perfect accent tones to match any shabby chic décor. Using a spray paint is even better, as it gives the perfect finish to your piece and with very little effort. Just sit back, spray and wait for it to dry! We choose to use a brush on the drawers to make sure the trimming was well coated, but that’s it.
For this section we used satin ivory silk paint which matched the spray paint for an off-white finish that just sparkles!
Once the paint is dry, re-attach anything you removed prior to painting. In this case, we just put the handles back on. You can also trade in and buy shabby chic handles for a few dollars online if you want a completely new look!
Doesn’t it look great already!?
For a professional finish, next you’ll want to add a glaze. Don’t worry, this step is just as easy as the rest! Glazes come in small cans and can be purchased from any hardware store for super cheap; they add a touch of color to your paint. This is where you want to use a high-quality brush. Apply the glaze to any intricate finishes on your furniture dabbing the glaze on anywhere you want to accent the shabbiness of your piece!
Here we applied a glaze to all the trim with a little more in a few places for extra effect. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for individual use, and apply the glaze in small amounts, washing it off with a small rag as you go. The idea is to build up a small amount of color as you go. Less is more, and you will know when it’s done! Again, give the piece time to dry – preferably overnight, and admire your work in the morning!
How to Accent Shabby Chic
Accessories and accents really bring shabby chic to life and flavor into your home. There is no set way to do this, and you will find yourself adding little bits and pieces to your collection as you go. Unlike other decor, you can create a somewhat cluttered appearance and still make a great impression, so don’t be scared to do what you think is right and build a home fit for a family!
Pay attention to the small details
Add soft, feminine pieces to accent your furniture
You can never have to much lace or flowers
Mix old and new to create an unusual and attractive décor
Have fun trying out new things, sometimes the wackier the better!
Another handy tip when trying out shabby chic, is to move things about in your home. Don’t waste money on new things when you can take a re-use something special somewhere else. You’ll be surprised on how easily a room can come together with a simple switch around, and how inventive you can be when put to the test. Watering cans make for excellent flower pots, and newspapers are a creative way to wallpaper inside of bookcases!
Use lots of fabrics and textures for a luxurious feel
Use color sparingly to make a big impression
Bring in things from outside, such as seashells or rocks, to create an earthy feel
Gold trim is timeless and makes a big impact
Add layer upon layer to create a homely feel and always add more just in case
Shabby Chic Design Examples for Entire Rooms
We have compiled a list of our top five favorite shabby chic designs. Looking at other people’s ideas is a great way to find inspiration and bring new ideas to your own home; so start taking notes today!
A home office doesn’t have to be boring!
Genius ideas for the bathroom, with a timeless nautical theme!
A quaint, yet attractive living room.
Bring some shabby chic outside!
Country kitchens work especially well in this design!
Now that you have lots of inspiration and all the tools and tricks you need to to start, why don’t you create an idea board that you can add pictures and ideas to? This is a great way to test out your visions on a small scale and can even be framed and made into an artistic collage when each room is finished. The best part about shabby chic is that only you will know when it is truly finished!