Shabby chic style has an atmosphere of comfort and nostalgia

Dec 1 2010

Creamy white walls are a good start in setting the stage for a shabby chic room.
Creamy white walls are a good start in setting the stage for a shabby chic room.
Sinking into a soft, upholstered reading chair. Breathing in the aroma of scented candles. Reaching for a cup of tea from a side table that has a stack of books and an antique lamp.


This is the atmosphere conveyed by a shabby chic room – comfort and nostalgia. As one aspect of the cottage look, shabby chic goes a step further. Painted furniture is a part of both styles, but with shabby chic, the furniture looks weathered and lived-in. Paint may be faded or scuffed up, but that's the shabby style.


The chic part comes in the pairing of soft colors - creamy white, muted gray, dusty peach and light green. These hues are generally complemented by throw rugs, sheer curtains and vintage accessories. Often with a botanical or seaside theme, chic accessories can range from beautifully woven baskets to silver photo frames.


Old wooden furniture from flea markets and garage sales can get the shabby chic treatment by being painted white, with corners and edges sanded to give an aged appearance. An old trunk can be used as a coffee table.


Slip-covered sofas and wicker sidechairs with large cushion seats fit the shabby chic décor. Rather than bright florals, a faded look prevails in subdued prints and stripes. Curtains can be lacy or simple sheers, both reminiscent of an earlier era.
 

Window treatments that work well in a shabby chic decorating scheme may include shutters painted white or off-white, or left natural in a light pine or maple wood. Shutters that cover only the bottom half of the window can be closed to limit bright sunlight coming into the room without shutting it out altogether. They also provide some privacy at street level, while retaining a view at the tree line.

Valances in wood or upholstery can also complement a shabby chic room. They offer a textural contrast mounted over soft curtains or a natural material in window shades, such as bamboo woven wood shades. House plants are particularly attractive with bamboo shades as a backdrop.

Fabric accessories may include laces and vintage prints that are tea-stained to give the illusion of age. Before soaking a full piece, however, a test should be done by dipping a swatch of fabric in tea to get the right shade.

Stacks of books, old photographs and a collection of bone china tea cups and saucers are some items that enhance the old world charm of a shabby chic room.
 
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