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, the 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’ originated  started in Great Britain and evokes the type of decoration found in large country houses where there are 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.

How To Do Shabby Chic Sustainably


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 is crucial, as it keeps the ‘shabby’ look clean

4. Using 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, for example. This design creates an intimate, comfortable and homely feeling, and can easily be applied to any room in the house.

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. To get the look, seek inspiration in Pinterest, country decor magazines and online sites, such as Shabby Chic

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


What to Hunt For

Of course, with this look, a mix of styles, materials and colours is encouraged. Look for anything from Victorian era lampshades and chairs to antique basins, Rococo style chandeliers, carved drawer handles, white or bordered china, tin containers (old or new) and tall, elegant candle holders can add a charming touch to any room.

Don’t worry if what you find is covered in distressed, stained, rusted or covered in old paint, as 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 paint, and then gently rub off the dried paint with a bit of  steel wool, concentrating on the corners or wherever normal wear would occur.  Voila! What’s new becomes old again.

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.

How To Do Shabby Chic Sustainably



How To Do Shabby Chic Sustainably


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How To Do Shabby Chic Sustainably


Chere Di Boscio
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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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