There is a song called “Secondhand Rose” about a woman who always ended up getting 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 similar to decoding ads about real estate. 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 you are out on the hunt for shabby chic finds, look for patchwork quilts with faded 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 friend’s storage units and garages for furniture and accessories that they will give to you. Next, browse flea markets, yard sales and secondhand stores regularly. It takes time, but the results are worth it.
Decide what to pair with the furniture that you already have in your house. You could try whitewashing or painting furniture, but remember, distressed surfaces add style to Shabby Chic. Lightly sanding the furniture will make the pieces look older than they are.
Choose colors that are light gray, pink, blue or white. Use accent colors that are a little different like greens and reds. Forget neons and primary brights. They’re too new and vivid for this style. Try to pick out faded fabrics and colors and check patterns. Use lots of throw pillows to make the room feel comfy and put old faded fabrics on top of tables and sofas.
Old coffee-table books on gardening and flowers are also a nice touch. Finally, remember the wise words of the old horse trainer in that marvelous film “Seabiscuit:” You don’t throw away a whole life just because it’s banged up a little. Things that have flaws all have a place in the shabby chic decor scheme.
This last guideline is especially good news for those of us who inherited the chipped and nicked glassware and china our mothers, aunts and grandmothers couldn’t bear to throw away! Shabby chic has made it stylish to display our worn heirlooms with pride.