The History of Shabby Chic


Bunting, garlands, pastels, gingham, plenty of chalk paint and those cute little cherubs - does that remind you of anything in particular? Shabby Chic is now one of Britain’s leading interior design styles and features in homes not just in Great Britain, but across the world.


The term ‘Shabby Chic’ was coined by the magazine ‘The World of Interiors’ in the 1980’s although it did not reach across the pond to the states until the late 90’s, it is proving popular amongst both experienced and novice interior designers because of its easy methods and how to guides that in recent years, have flooded across the internet.


If you are looking to upgrade your room in a totally new style but simply don’t have the funds, Shabby Chic is one of the most cost effective ways to decorate your home. Unlike many interior styles which are popular today, you are not required to hire a designer, buy a whole range of new furniture or completely disembowel your room. Shabby Chic is a timeless design lacking in formal rules.


The idea of the style is for your furniture to have the appearance of age and general wear and tear with pastel based colours around the room. Extreme Shabby Chic-ers even go as far as tea staining materials and wood to give that extra vintage, antique feel. Although the items are scratched and aged in appearance the white wash features in the room still give the feeling of a clean environment.


This is where upcycling and reusing comes in and the term ‘fake it till you make it’ springs to mind.





There are three main Shabby Chic styles which branch off from the original term; although some people would argue that there are four – Beach Style, Cottage Style and French Style and Gustavian (Swedish) Style which are often placed together.


French Style Shabby Chic 


French Style is one of my favourites in the whole interior world because of the high details and craftsmanship put into the woodwork. This can be a little harder to recreate if you don’t have the patience and skill. Motifs, garlands and delicate appliqués illustrate the Rococo French designs. Originally created in the late Baroque period in the 18th century, this style has been given a refurbish with modern items and colours. It was then eventually replaced with a Neoclassic style. You can see it has been a base of inspiration for high street shops and upmarket stores and is especially featured in wooden headboards and mirrors. The Rococo/French Style inspired mirrors are one of my favourite items to really transform a room. They’re even fun to upcycle with metallic golds or silvers, depending on your room theme, and would fit into both Shabby Chic and modern day homes.




Gustavian Style Shabby Chic


Gustavian Shabby Chic is the second oldest style on the branch which came around when the Rococo era was still the initial style. Although designers say that it was highly influenced by British and French style, I believe that its Swedish roots shine through with the beautifully detailed hand paintings of woodland areas on their traditional Mora clocks, kind of like a Grandfather. They were eventually disregarded as the cheaper, faster made Grandfather clocks coming from the West were boomed into fashion. Like the Rococo style, the Gustavian period is coming back into fashion with the shabby chic interior popping up in high street shops.




Beach Style Shabby Chic


The more modern Beach Style is very popular in today’s interior designs magazines and is one of the more minimalistic branches deriving from the Shabby Chic hub. This style is easily replicated in your own room by firstly adding flooring boards to your wall to add a ‘beach hut’ kind of element – I know it sounds crazy but trust me, with the right wood and paint, this can totally alter a room for the best. If you were looking for an easier alternative and faster (depending on how good you were at wallpapering) version to flooring boards you could always invest in some wooden panel designed wallpaper. Although the flooring boards on the wall take up little space, the wallpaper method would better suit you if you were trying to optimise space. The colours for Beach Style Shabby Chic can differ slightly from the original colour pallet. Pastel pinks and blues turn to primarily white wash, dusty or grey toned blues and beige. As mentioned previously though, the fun thing with Shabby Chic is that you can mix and match freely without having to stick to any concrete plan. 




Cottage Style Shabby Chic


Finally, we get to the Cottage Style Shabby Chic. When you think of Shabby Chic, Cottage Style is the one that immediately presents itself. Known for its bleached pastels, rose pink and shades of duck egg blue – this main Shabby Chic design is the easiest to create and often represents itself with a housewife or ‘doll house’ theme. The floral patterns can easily be picked up in charity shops and in high street in shops like Cath Kidston. If you wanted to recreate this design on a lower budget you could easily pull up the carpet and white wash the flooring boards to give your room the first Shabby Chic touch. All that is needed then is to give your furniture the antique appearance which can be done over a weekend with the correct materials.




Why not look into Shabby Chic-ing your room and achieve that timeless, effortless look today – all you need to do is grab a paint brush and get started!



Further Reading

Here I have included a couple of other great pages that I hope you find interesting and provide some further design inspiration. If you come across any blogs or pages you find interesting, do let me know.


"12 Shabby Chic Kitchen Ideas" - You don't just have to decorate your bedrooms and living rooms using shabby chic, why not your kitchen? This post provides plenty of ideas for bringing your kitchen into the world of shabby chic.


 "What Is Shabby Chic" - Further to my insight, this blog post provides some great additional information and some cool ideas!



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