From Shabby to Chic: How to Give your Home an Easy Upgrade | homify

From Shabby to Chic: How to Give your Home an Easy Upgrade

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Many people looking to update or refresh the look of their homes are choosing shabby chic. Shabby chic simply refers to a style defined by furniture or furnishings chosen for their distressed appearance and signs of wear and tear. This style started in the late 20th century as people moved away from the cold minimalism of modern designs, looking for a style that felt homelier and lived in. For those who are looking to upgrade on a budget, the shabby chic style is a very good choice. Furniture that is ideal for this style can be found very cheaply at markets and neighbourhood sales. This style is often characterized by painted timber pieces that have been worn in places revealing the underlying paint or timber. Many people looking for this style will intentionally paint and scrape back the paint in order to achieve this style. Although there are other important elements of the shabby chic style, Homify has found the best ways to achieve the shabby chic look.

A Focal Point

When you have decided to upgrade your home to a shabby chic style, start by considering a focal point for the room. What exactly is a focal point? When you walk into a room there are certain things that you immediately notice, these things are the focal point or points. In a living room this may be a fireplace, a window or a sofa. In a bathroom the focal point may be the basin or the mirror. When it comes to a shabby chic style there are many ways to create a focal point. As the shabby chic style is often based on a neutral or white background, it can be easy to create a focal point by using colour or pattern; use floral cushions on a light coloured couch, place a rich coloured rug at the centre of a neutral coloured room. Another way to create a focal point in a room is by including an artwork. An antique watercolour is a great way to bring focus to a large wall.

Something Organic

One of the strongest aspects of shabby chic is its ability to contrast the comfortable, old and worn furnishings with the freshness and vibrance of the natural elements. Organic and natural elements such as timber, stone and plants and flowers work well within any shabby chic style. To finish a shabby chic style in your home, be sure to add an organic element.  A plant in the bathroom can bring surprise to the design. A bright green leafy plant in the bedroom can contrast with the soft  and light textures of the room. A large leafy palm can provide a link between the living spaces and the outdoor areas of a house.  Stones can be placed in areas such as the bathroom and the living spaces. These can be a great contrast with the rough surface of timber tables and warm soft sofas.

Different Textures

One of the most recognised elements of the shabby chic style is the distressed and aged surface of furniture. This is often a hard and rough texture. To create a balanced style it is always good to use a variety of contrasting textures. Combine a distressed paint texture with a soft fabric finish. This can be achieved by pairing a paint distressed coffee table with a vintage white sofa. Consider also placing a cool claw foot bath next to a warm coloured antique chair in the bathroom. To bring out the creativity in the home try using vintage items such as an old ladder or vintage suitcases, painted in white or light colours as furniture around the home. A set of old painted suitcases can make a wonderful bedside table. This design is by Renata Romeiro Interiors.

Personal Effects

One of the reasons that shabby chic has become so popular has been that many people are rejecting the cold impersonal style of modern designs preferring instead the warm, lived in feeling of the shabby chic style. For many it may remind them of the comforts of a childhood home. Shabby chic encourages you to express yourself in the design, to include parts of yourself and your personal items. Home made art, crafts and photos are popular to see in shabby chic styles. Try having a photo wall in your home. Arrange a collection of contrasting photo frames with your personal photos on a wall. Arrange these randomly around a central photo. Ensure that the photos are balanced from top to bottom and from left to right.

Classics of Design

Modern designs are often changing. Items that are in style one moment will be different a couple of months later. This is not the case with the shabby chic style. The essence of shabby chic is the lived in and classic style. It is based on the colour white, which is in essence the classic colour. There are many other elements of the classic design that are incorporated in shabby chic; the appeal of timber furniture whether it is painted and distressed or left natural and polished. It is not only in the choice of furniture or furnishings that we see the influence of the classic design but also in the layout of rooms within the home. A classic design layout is often employed in shabby chic houses. The sofas and armchairs that are often seen facing each other next to an open fireplace is a classic living room style seen in both designs. For more shabby chic see Stile Shabby Chic


When the elements of shabby chic come together in perfect arrangement it can create the perfect warm and harmonious environment. Guests often comment on how they feel immediately comfortable in such a lived in home. This is great for your friends and family, but why not keep them on their toes by including an element of surprise. There are many ways to create a surprise in a design; consider using a modern photograph that you have taken yourself, printed in black and white and printed on a large canvas, hung in a prominent position in the living room. It may take them a while to work out that it is a modern print. Include a bit of industrial art in a room, such as an old sewing machine in the bathroom or a couple of tall palm trees in the kitchen.

Shabby chic has become a popular way of refreshing your home in a way that is economical and creative. It uses second hand, vintage and antique furniture and furnishings to create a lived in, comfortable and homely environment. If you are looking to incorporate this style into your home start by creating a focal point in the house, include something organic, fill the spaces with personal effects, use classic design principles and don’t forget to add an element of surprise. Shabby chic is a wonderful style that will remain popular for many years to come. For more shabby chic ideas see Shabby Chic. Is It Over?

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