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How to: pull off the shabby-chic look

Shabby-chic has been an interior design favourite for over 20 years. The term is somewhat all-encompassing and has been used by designers to describe an eclectic mix of styles, making it a little hard to identify exactly what the definition of the term is. In essence the desired effect is to create spaces that are warm and welcoming yet possess a wispy dream-like ‘grandma’s house’ feel — while still being bright and not feeling dated.

Done well shabby-chic style will compliment any room. However, we know that it can feel daunting trying to pull off a style which can’t be easily be pinned down — after all you want your home to look shabby-chic and not just…err, shabby. But just follow these 5 simple tips to ensure you master it marvellously.

1. Quality is paramount

Commonly used adjectives to describe shabby-chic items include words such as ‘distressed’ and ‘worn’, the idea is to fill rooms with items that look like they have stood the test of time, and all have a story to tell. You do not however want to add any items to the room which could be described as ‘tatty’ or ‘broken’.

The easiest way then to ensure that any furniture you add to a space will look good is to make sure it was made from high-quality materials to begin with. A reclaimed 1970s dresser made of solid oak or mahogany will retain it’s charms far more than an imitation one made from MDF — no matter how much you up-cycle it.

2. Go for hardwood flooring if you can

No type of flooring offers that same, old-worldy, wholesome, charm as bare floorboards. Especially when tied with some beautiful antique rugs. As a general rule it’s best to avoid overly shiny, modern looking varnishes in favour of more traditional looking finishes. fans of the style are particularly fond of white washed or painted floorboards.

3. Pastels everywhere

Pastel colours are an ever-present favourite within the realms of shabby-chic design. The obvious choices are for fixtures such as kitchen cabinets and counters as well as for the walls and windows. But if you are of the DIY-persuasion then you could try up-cycling a few charity shop finds. Try sanding down a couple of old bedside cabinets then give them a couple of coats of paint in your favourite pastel shades. If you’re handy with a needle and thread you could even try reupholstering some chairs with pastel fabric that can be cheaply picked up from any fabric shop.

4. Wallpaper the walls (and anything else you fancy!)

The rise in popularity of this type of decor means there’s now a huge range of rustic and floral wallpaper patterns to pick from. With improved materials and adhesives wallpaper is no longer only limited to rooms with dryer environments, wallpapered feature walls can now be added to kitchens and even bathrooms.  You could even try using any left over rolls of wallpaper from the decorators to customise some vintage furniture.

5. Nurture a little nature in your interior.

We know we’ve banged on a fair bit on this blog about the current design craze of ‘bringing the outside in’ but it is a key-facet of the shabby chic style. from incorporating flora and fauna inspired textiles to purchasing a few terrariums as ornaments to stick around the house they’re all ways to contribute to that sort after look. For less obvious ways to bring some nature inside, think laterally and add some less obvious object.

For example the next time you go to the beach, pick up a few branches of drift wood, beautiful sandedand aged naturally by the sea.  All you need to do is saw them down and cut the branch at an angle, then after a little painting, screw them to a plank of wood to create a beautiful coat rack.

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