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The Shabby Chic Design Style

In the 1700s, many people were flocking from the country to the city for the wealth of factory and service jobs. The wealthy, however, became known for maintaining their distance in family country estates - far from the grime and bustle of 1700s-1800s city life. The signature of these majestic family estates is a style built over generations of family living and adding to the home. Those who visited noticed a patina of age, a mixing of furniture eras, and yet a plush, comfortable luxury to the entire experience.

While the term "Shabby Chic" was coined in the 1980s, the style you seek to emulate is one of countryside nobility and a home exuding centuries of family history.

Shabby Chic Style Architecture

Architecture is the first place where a truly shabby-chic design will shine. Fluted columns and aging crown molding are signatures of the style. Think about the mansions of the European countryside, particularly those on sunny French and British rolling hills. The ornate details are everywhere, and yet so inherent to the style as to almost disappear in a warm glow of luxurious design.

  • Molding floor to ceiling

  • Fluted and curved columns

  • Balustrade railings

  • Curling carved detail

  • Tall, grid-paned windows

Shabby Chic Materials

The mansions of the European nobility were mostly made of wood, painted in soft cream and pastels. Wood and plaster walls, wood columns and railings, and wood board floors and decks bring a warmth to the shabby chic home. Plaster is also often used for columns, molding, and smooth walls that may bear sun-faded wallpaper. In select places, you will find stone and tile around the fireplaces and in the kitchens. Accenting the painted wood, you will find faded fabrics and old draperies that may have been in the family for generations.

  • Polished wood and painted wood

  • Plaster

  • Stone and clay tile

  • Faded and historic fabrics

Shabby Chic Colors and Finishes

The hallmark of the shabby chic style is the aged look of every color and finish. Colors tend to be pale, pastels and sun-bleached from decades of basking in the light of broad, sunny windows. Paint in cream and pastels so faint they are barely detectable set the stage. Every finish has a patina of age. Every piece of furniture is both beautiful and aged. Fabric on the chairs may be worn or boast embroidery that was new when your grandmother was young. Tarnish, antiquing, and distressing finishes are a signature of new shabby chic assets.

  • Cream and faded pastel paint

  • Warm polished wood

  • Distressed paint and finish

  • Antiqued and tarnished metal finishes

  • Worn embroidered fabrics

Shabby Chic Furniture and Decor

Decorating your shabby chic room or home is by far the most enjoyable part. Shabby chic takes its cue from family homes that have been in the family for decades, maybe centuries. This means you and your local antique and thrift stores are about to have a ball. Seek comfortable, color-matching but mixed-era furniture favoring the European country style through the centuries. Large embroidery-covered armchairs, agile dining chairs, and a few elegant lounges that have seen better days are your perfect anchor points. Now bring in framed artwork, sculpture, and side tables throughout the ages. Look for pieces that are worn, but in a comforting and familiar kind of way.

  • European country theme

  • Mixed furniture from multiple eras

  • Embroidered upholstery with a little fabric wear

  • Distressed and lightly surface-damaged

  • Care-worn items tarnished with use and love

  • Sculpture and artwork in heavy frames

  • Rich, luxurious items that have seen their best days

Shabby Chic Lighting

Finally, what type of lighting is best for a shabby chic room? If you are renovating for that cozy French country mansion style, look for beautiful chandeliers and artistic light pieces with a distressed or antiqued finish. The theme is opulence that has already seen its prime and has settled into luxurious familiarity.

  • Distressed elegant chandeliers

  • Aged and patina finishes

  • Illuminating wall sconces

  • Antique style hanging lanterns

Ready to start your shabby chic decoration experience? So are we! Contact us today or explore our chandelier options to find the perfect fixture for your beautiful countryside estate.