How To Do Shabby Chic Sustainably

Would you like to get a French country look for your house? Here’s how to do shabby chic sustainably and cheaply!

By Jaqueline Rose

Shabby Chic was possibly the most common interior design for most French country houses by default: the French rarely throw out anything functional just because it’s ‘old’! But over the last few decades, this interior design style has spread throughout the world, becoming a favourite with those who prefer their chic to be more casual than carefully constructed.

Though the French may do this naturally, the term ‘shabby chic’ actually originated in Great Britain. It evokes the type of decoration found in large country houses in France. The kind of houses where you might find a garden room with a side shed, worn and faded old chintz sofas and curtains, old paintwork and unassuming ‘good’ taste.

The goal  is to achieve an elegant overall effect, as opposed to cutesy Pseudo-Victorian. Recycling old furniture and fabrics is an important aspect of the look.

Here below, I share some of my best tips on how to do shabby chic sustainably for your home. These tips work for everyone, no matter how big or small, old or new your home may be.

Main image:  Image below:

How To Do Shabby Chic Sustainably

How To Get Shabby Chic At Home

Doing shabby chic sustainably is much easier than you’d think!

The overall elegance of this look is created through the use of several elements, including:

1. The use of vintage furniture and accessories, preferably not in pristine condition

2. Exposing original floorboards, beams and brick walls

3. Painting in neutral shades or white. This tip is crucial, as it keeps the ‘shabby’ look ‘clean’ and coherent.

4. Upcycling objects in unusual ways. For example, a teapot becomes a planter; an industrial spool becomes a table; old jeans are used to reupholster a Louis XV chair. This design creates an intimate, comfortable and homely feeling, and can easily be applied to any room in the house.

shabby chic bedroom

Here are some other easy tips I have for you to achieve this look:

5. Mix it up! Nothing needs to match perfectly. A few odd pieces of china, different carved knobs on a drawer, mixed cushion styles…anything goes so long as the colour scheme is neutral.

6. Keep it natural and organic. Rattan, straw, wood, clay, and stone are all ideal materials for anything from furniture to decorative objects.

7. Add some wildflowers. Put a few blossoms to tea cups, creamers, Mason jars, or old vases for a feminine touch.

8. Go for textured textiles. Lace, velvet, linen, cotton. They’re all great for everything from cushions and curtains to bed coverings and carpets.

lace curtains

What To Hunt For

Of course, with this interiors look, a mix of styles, materials and colours is encouraged. And the best place to find these? Flea markets, of course!

To get a shabby chic interior, hunt around auctions, antique stores, and flea markets for anything from:

  • Victorian era lampshades and chairs
  • antique basins
  • Rococo style chandeliers
  • carved drawer handles
  • patterned china
  • tin containers (old or new)
  • tall, elegant candle holders
  • lace tablecloths
  • old vases

Objects such as these can add a charming shabby chic touch to any room. Don’t worry if what you find is covered in distressed, stained, rusted or covered in old paint. This lends a countryside quaintness to any piece of furniture.

In fact, to give something new an upcycled feeling yourself, paint any item with one or two coats of non toxic paint, and then gently rub off the dried product with a bit of  steel wool, concentrating on the corners or wherever normal wear would occur.

Voila! What’s new becomes old again.

Image: cat-arzyna

How To Do Shabby Chic Sustainably

Don’t Be Afraid To DIY

In fact, don’t stop at just painting! To do shabby chic sustainably for your home, you should get a bit crafty. Learn how to upcycle objects into something unexpected.

For example? One of my favourite shabby chic items ever is this recycled cable spool table, below. Added spokes allow it to become a bookshelf, too! And the wheels on the bottom make it pretty mobile.

In my experience, wood pallets are full of potential. They can be easily upcycled into anything from book shelves and tables to bases for sofas and beds.

How To Do Shabby Chic Sustainably

With more attention being paid to the environment, people are becoming reluctant to kit out their homes with all-new furnishings. Shabby Chic is solid proof that  featuring preloved furnishings and homeware in your home decoration scheme is far from shabby; it’s simply 100% chic.

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4 thoughts on “How To Do Shabby Chic Sustainably”

  1. I really love your tip on looking for a mix of styles, materials, and colors that will work together a shabby chic look. This will be a great way to style my daughters room the way she wants it. Thanks for the tips that I can use while I look online for furniture.

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