• Shabby Chic

    Peeling paint. Simple whitewash on the furniture. Wrinkled slipcovers. To many, that sounds like what you'd find in a home that needs some serious sprucing up. To others, though, that's exactly the look they're going for. They worked hard to get there. If a formal living room with immaculate furniture and perfect upholstery can make you feel tense, then perhaps the look of "Shabby Chic" can help you to relax.

    Rachel Ashwell developed the Shabby Chic look toward the end of the 1980s. She spent her time prowling garage sales and flea markets to find furniture with good lines that didn't need to be intricately decorated to be appealing. She took the furniture home, painted it white, and made washable slipcovers. Ornate, old-fashioned accessories were added to complete the look with some contrast. Thus, the Shabby Chic look was born.

    For many, Shabby Chic, can remind them of their grandmother's house. The simple furniture and hand sewn slipcovers look like what Grandma might have chosen. It was within her budget, and with a little work, she could dress it up nicely. Adding the ornate accessories completes the look by bringing in such nice things as she could afford-heirlooms for those who weren't well-to-do.

    Here are some things you can do to put together your own Shabby Chic look.

    White Overstuffed Furniture

    This is a must, and it's easy to do. Look for furniture that has clean lines and could use a fresh coat of paint. The white will make everything look brighter and fresher. Overstuffed chairs and couches give a warm, inviting, soft look to the home. They're clearly meant to make you comfortable so you can stay and talk a spell.

    Rumpled Slipcovers

    White slipcovers or faded prints work the best. They can hide damage to the upholstery, backs, and arms of the furniture while imparting a cozy feel. You may want to make the fabrics look older by tea staining them. Don't iron them. They should look rumpled and well-used.


    Tea cups and saucers that don't match but each look beautiful are a great idea. Or have each tea cup match its saucer, but have at most two of any one kind. This gives the appearance of nice things collected carefully over time. Other ornaments and knick knacks should give the same appearance, rather than the appearance of a matched set purchased at once.

    Old Metal

    Aged or rusting metal, or metal with flaking paint adds to the Shabby Chic look. Wrought iron works especially well since it conveys the idea of fanciness to provide the perfect contrast to the semi-distressed state in which the metal finds itself.

    Candles and Flowers

    Candles and flowers have always been inexpensive ways to add some beauty and elegance to the home. That makes them perfect for the Shabby Chic look. The home isn't supposed to look as though it's been neglected. Rather, the home looks like someone on a budget is adding what frills and decoration they can afford.

    Other Ornamentation

    Glass doorknobs make a perfect addition. So do old mantels and iron corner brackets. Keep your eye out for these kinds of touches at garage sales and flea markets.