What is Shabby Chic Interior Design?

Shabby Chic interior design is a style that celebrates the beauty of imperfect items. It’s full of vintage furniture, chippy wood paint, and soft hues.

Shabby chic interiors have a relaxed feel. Here’s a look at how this design trend started and the characteristics of shabby chic style.

The Origins of Shabby Chic Interior Design

What is Shabby Chic Interior Design?

Shabby chic interior design originated in 1989 when designer and entrepreneur, Rachel Ashwell, opened her first store in Santa Monica. The store, named Shabby Chic, housed Rachel’s flea market finds. 

In 1996 Ashwell wrote the book Shabby Chic which shared her guide on decorating, finding flea market items, flower arrangements, and more. Her popularity grew, and in the early 2000s, she hosted home decorating shows on Style Network and E!.

Shabby Chic remained a coveted style from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. It’s still in use today, although sometimes with a more modern twist.

Styles Similar to Shabby Chic

Today, many popular styles are similar to shabby chic.

  • CottagecoreCottagecore is a new design trend, especially popular with those in their late teens to early twenties. It encompasses most shabby chic elements, including vintage furniture, imperfect pieces, and a focus on raw materials.
  • Traditional Farmhouse – Original farmhouse style incorporates many of the same naturally distressed furniture elements. The big difference between the two is that shabby chic encompasses a softer color palette for a more romantic feel.
  • French CountryFrench country is a slightly more refined version of shabby chic but shares many of the same elements.

Elements of Shabby Chic Interior Design

Shabby Chic bedroom decor

Here’s how to work the best Shabby chic characteristics into your home for a relaxed and romantic atmosphere.

Use the Shabby Chic Color Palette

The shabby chic color palette is full of soft pastel colors. Walls are white, cream, or light gray, and accents of pale blue, purple, and pink are common.

You won’t find dark or dramatic colors in this interior design style.

Go for Vintage Furniture

A primary tenant of shabby chic design is naturally distressed furniture, making flea markets and antique stores the best place to shop. Look for items where the paint is naturally chipping and sofas and chairs that are plush and comfy. 

If you’re choosing upholstered items, look for natural fabrics like cotton, linen, and velvet. Opt for soft colors and floral patterns.

Add Feminine Touches

To achieve a romantic look, add feminine touches to your rooms. You can do this with floral patterns, vases full of flowers, crystal chandeliers, and artwork. 

Mix Textures

Shabby Chic is a texture-rich design. So while elements in the room should work together, they don’t need to match. For example, you could add a cotton slipcover to a sofa, top it with a chunky knit blanket, and bring in a wooden side chair. The different types of materials provide visual interest without cluttering the space.

Add a Dose of Glam to Every Room

Shabby Chic is a mix of styles, with vintage and glam being the most predominant. While most of the room should have a relaxed and soft vintage feel, add a dose of glam to every space. One of the easiest ways to do this is with your light fixtures. Consider intricate chandeliers, gold and crystal lamps, or wall sconces. 

Other ways to add glamor include ornate mirrors, velvet throw pillows, or unexpected wall art.

Examples of Shabby Chic Interiors

Use these examples of shabby chic interiors as inspiration for your next project.

Shabby Chic Living Room

Shabby chic living area

The sofa in this living room is an example of a typical shabby chic couch. It features a slipcover with skirting and helps create a light, airy atmosphere. The chandelier adds a touch of glam, while the vintage pieces complement it.

Shabby Chic Kitchen

Shabby Chic Kitchen Decor
Mindy Nicole Photography

Here’s an example of a shabby chic kitchen with white cabinets and weathered wood ceiling beams. The fresh flowers and fruit complement the light color scheme.

Modern Shabby Chic Dining Room

Dining Shabby Chic
MaMo Architects

Upholstered formal dining chairs are a staple of shabby chic. The designers gave this room a more minimal twist with all-white walls and a touch of glam through the light fixture.

Shabby Chic Bedroom

Bedroom Shabby Chic Decor

The designer chose a crisp but feminine bedspread full of ruffles in this shabby chic bedroom. The room pulls in many distressed vintage pieces but adds glam through the accent chair and small chandelier.