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shabby chic definition

Shabby Chic Style: Décor Tips for the Vintage-Inspired Home

Cozy up to shabby chic with vintage-inspired pieces and comfy textures.

1 | Soft Colors

With design schemes that favor neutrals, it can be easy to want to incorporate pops of bright hues whenever possible. However, when it comes to color in shabby chic style, ‘less is more’ is the golden rule – even in smaller pieces.­­­­ To energize a space or corner without deterring from a shabby chic interior, look for throw pillows or wall art that feature bold patterns in light shades.

While light shades play a defining role, you can’t have shabby chic without layers (think delicate lace over heavy curtains, gold accents on dark dressers and shaggy throws with wooden chairs) – which means that in major staples like a sofa or table, soft colors are as practical as they are appealing. Anything heavier than fresh white or light beige can make for a busy palette, while subdued neutrals provide a clean canvas.

Of course, nothing says ‘shabby chic’ quite like a washed-out pastel on a cozy fabric – but to prevent ‘washed-out’ from looking run-down, opt for quality materials and thick textures. A low saturation in a cozy area rug or silky-smooth duvet will offer a breezy feel without losing luxury style.

shabby chic sofa

A little bit rustic, a little bit feminine – shabby chic is all about ‘soft.’ Mellow lines, fabrics and especially hues bring a relaxed air and gentle charm.

2 | Tassels, Curves and Scallops

shabby chic décor

From antique silhouettes and curly designs, to playful fringes and weathered edges, shabby chic is all about all the frills.

Whether on a pillow, rug or tablecloth, knots, ruffles and tassels – especially in vintage color combos like navy and ivory – refresh dull spaces and play to the old-fashioned heart of shabby chic. And when it comes to shabby chic, nothing beats antique woods. Whether on a chest or side table, details like fluted legs and a French-style pie trimming recall carved pilasters, engraved banisters, and other relics of Romantic parlor furniture.

The distressed woods and weathered metals of shabby chic rustic decorating can make it easy to give off a vibe that is more ‘shabby’ than ‘chic.’ Don’t let this happen to you! While it’s important to keep colors muted, it’s almost impossible to overdose on feminine curlicues and flourishes – add them to every clock, bedpost and doorknob in sight for shabby chic at its most refined.

3 | Distressed Woods

Thanks to patina, you don’t have to sacrifice large, shiny household essentials that don’t fit in with your shabby chic décor. Whether it’s a gleaming mirror, aluminum mailbox or even a silver trash can, a little distress goes a long way; to add a rustic ambiance to everyday items, look for wooden detailing with a worn-out finish.

Another easy way to maintain the rustic-meets-elegant vibe of shabby chic is by opting for pieces that balance texture and material. A quaint nightstand with chipped paint pairs beautifully with a slick glass vase, while a coarse rope tabletop adds depth to smooth wooden legs.

Finally, if you are looking to place dark accents like rosewood or mango wood in shabby chic décor, offset the heavy hues, and keep a lighthearted air, by planting them in unexpected designs and places. An antique flower pot near the kitchen sink, or a whimsical letter in the corner of a bookshelf, adds effortless charm to shabby chic style.

shabby chic wood furniture

Shabby chic thrives off a lived-in, homey feel when you incorporate wooden accents with a country twist.

4 | Shiny Details

shabby chic metals

‘Pretty’ meets ‘rustic’ when shabby chic décor balances rugged woods with glossy metals.

Whether it’s a couple of stainless steel bowls or silver ceramic kittens, nothing brings out the sophistication of shabby chic more than a touch of shine. As with all elements of shabby chic, paying attention to the roles colors play is key to pulling off an effortlessly relaxed (yet totally polished) look. Pair silvers with silvers and golds with golds, and – again, as with all things shabby chic – avoid neons, iridescence, and glitz in metal décor, to keep a clean elegance.

While most shabby chic interiors keep the details shiny and staples wooden, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to the eclectic style. If you have your heart set on a sleek statement piece, all you need is a little bit of strategic accessorizing to keep the shabby chic ambience; offset a glossy coffee or end table with an antique table runner – or even a weathered brick wall – to incorporate a touch of glamour without losing a rustic-meets-elegant vibe.

Shabby Chic Fashion vs. Decor


Colors: Off-white, rose, lavender

Key motifs: Frills, lace, florals, layers

Vibe: Breezy, vintage, feminine


Texture: Distressed & comfy

Accents: Sheer drapes, linens, fringed throws

Related styles: Victorian, rustic cottage

Three Different Ways to Style Shabby Chic



Sweet & Feminine


 Decorative Elements

  • Milk jug decor
  • Farm animal wall art
  • Industrial hardware
  • Pink florals
  • Flouncy drapes
  • Victorian armoire
  • Vintage French details
  • Distressed textures
  • Neutral colors

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.