Everyone loves to come back to a home that feels cozy and comfortable. It’s a retreat from the outside world and the difficulties you have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. This is the primary reason why the shabby chic style, sometimes call “cottage style,” is so popular. Known for its laid-back, comfortable feel, this interesting aesthetic is beloved by college students and young professionals for its budget friendliness. It also requires little to no renovating to accomplish. Here are some essential elements that can help you create this style in your apartment or rented home.
Soft Color Palette
Delicacy, femininity, and coziness are the core values of this aesthetic. The first thing you’ll want to consider when composing a shabby chic room is the color composition. This style favors clean, soft color palettes that resemble quaint country cottages and fresh, comfy beach houses. Quiet pastels that are just a shade or two away from white will be your best friend. Extremely light blues, pinks, and lavenders are fantastic for creating a cottage-like feel. For a beachy vibe, pair light blues with subtle sandy yellows and gauzy grays. Not big of pastels? Accessorize with rich earthy tones.
Overwhelmed by the possibility of choosing a color? When in doubt, always go with white. The shabby chic style is typically wrought with little details and decorative flourishes, so you never have to worry about an all-white room being boring!
Very few design styles take advantage of certain prints and fabrics the way the shabby chic does. Fabrics soften up the room to create add that feminine touch and sometimes even add a pop of pattern! Delicate laces are arguably at the heart of shabby chic, infusing a sense of vintage femininity into the room. Light and airy chiffons can also make an appearance, particularly on window treatments. Rose print – while often evoking images of cute grannies knitting in chairs – feels at home and charming in a shabby chic room. Other florals also help create an intimate lived-in look. Country cottage style plaids are also favored by the shabby chic style, conjuring up memories of wholesome morning meals in the French countryside. If you really want to dive into the shabby chic look, keep an eye out for some handmade quilts on your next flea market visit.
Iron and Wood
One great way to achieve the shabby chic look without trying too hard is to contrast vintage wrought irons with well-worn woods. When you’re browsing through the nearest antique shop or flea market, keep an eye out for these two essential elements. They are more common than you might think.
These two distinguishably vintage materials are surprisingly easy to incorporate into a shabby chic room. Worn wood is perhaps the easiest element to incorporate. You can find anything as simple as an old wooden chair to a bold barn door (the latter makes for fantastic headboards, FYI). Wrought iron is rustic and highly decorative, usually molded into beautifully feminine circular shapes and filigrees. For a bedroom, you can try to find a pretty wrought iron bed frame. For a living room, you can incorporate wrought iron into a vintage-style bar cart or simply lean an old gate against the wall for decoration.
Items That are Well-Loved
The shabby chic style rarely has a contemporary edge, and even when it does, nods the past can still be found everywhere. Finding great antique items is essential to creating a great shabby chic room and – against common sense – the more well-loved and worn these items look, the better.
That’s right! Chipped paint, scratches, and even a tasteful amount of tarnish are encouraged. Seek out furniture that has – or at least looks like – it has been broken in already. Select accessories that look like they’ve been places. It’s key to pick out items that look worn, but not repulsively dirty. For example: An old rug that is a little raggedy or faded is good, but an old rug with some mysterious stains on it is bad.
The shabby chic style is especially friendly to DIY or rehabbed items. Not a master crafter? No worries! The loose threads on the crochet table runner and the chipped white paint on that old farm table will only add to the overall look of the room!
Accessories Across Eras
Just because you’re pulling accessories in from the past doesn’t mean that you need to remain consistent! One of the things that makes shabby chic so unique is its flexibility and eclectic nature. The room is supposed to look like a patchwork of antiques, not a room preserved from a single time period or place!
“How do I pull these items together if they’re from different eras?” you may be asking. The easiest way to do this is through color coordinating. For example, you could have a desk that looks like an old English cottage and then you could have a chair that looks like its from a 1950’s living room. Paint the desk white and upholster the chair white or light gray. This pulls the two dramatically different items together, aesthetically.
Remember, go wild and be creative! Look up more inspiration online. Browse through your local farmer’s markets and yard sales for hidden gems. Half of the fun of this process is the hunt for beautiful things to put in your shabby chic room!
No one can accuse the shabby chic style as being overly masculine. There’s just something about the aesthetic that is inherently nurturing and feminine. It’s important to play up the feminine element when designing a shabby chic room. You can do this by adding any number of accessories traditionally associated with women or a more “girly” look. Some of these items include, but are certainly not limited to: chandeliers, monogrammed pillows, fresh flowers, old gates or windows, French-style anything, and maybe even a cute kitty lounging on the bed for that good ol’ country feel.
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