Shabby Chic in a Modern Era

Somewhere along the way, one of us must have heard or read the word “shabby chic”. So what does it exactly mean? More importantly, how does one create a shabby chic atmosphere so that it would look “in” and inviting despite of its era?

Shabby chic (pronounced: “sheek”) is a form of interior design where furniture and furnishings are either chosen for their appearance of age and signs of wear and tear or where new items are distressed to achieve the appearance of an antique. The style is imitated in faux painting using glaze or by painting then rubbing and sanding away the top coat to show the wood or base coats. At the same time, a soft, opulent, yet cottage-style decor, often with an affected feel is emphasized to elaborate furniture appliques depicting vintage flower swags, garlands and cherubs.

Typical shabby chic living room in a cottage.

A shabby chic kitchen and dining with its decorative ceramics.


Antique pieces such as pie safes and jelly cupboards are popular in shabby chic décor. Besides white, the shabby chic style also includes soft neutral colors such as sky blue, rose pink and beige tones. The shabby chic aesthetic also expands to the garden, with the same design principles of using timeworn garden furniture and feminine accessories. Rose gardens are popular with the shabby chic style of decor.

Other popular decor items are pillows made of vintage barkcloth fabric, vintage linens, chenille bedspreads, vintage chandeliers, and anything with roses in the design. It is a soft, relaxed, feminine, romantic style of decorating that looks comfortable and homie.

Origin of term

The term was coined by The World of Interiors magazine in the 1980 and became extremely popular in the US in the ’90s with a certain eclectic surge of decorating styles with paints and effects, notably in metropolitan cultural centres on the West Coast of America, such as LA and SF.

Modern Days

Even people living in metropolitan area such as San Fransisco are still using shabby chic as part of their interior style–mainly because it gives them homie feelings. In the later picture, you will see that the shape of the sofa adopts shabby chic culture as well as the pastel color palette. However, flowers beddings and distressed finished furniture are diminished to give it a more modern and clean look.

A modern and simple form of shabby chic in a living room scene.

Source: Wikipedia

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