Cushions sporting sweet ruffles and frills, slipcovers edged with pretty peplums, sofas upholstered in tactile linen fabrics… the shabby chic interior is making a comeback. And it is hardly surprising: at a time when our homes have become sanctuaries like never before, the nostalgic shabby chic aesthetic – together with its close relative cottagecore, which harkens to traditional English cottage style décor – offers a look that is soft, welcoming, and familiar; creating a sense of heritage that will be passed down to the next generation. And today’s shabby chic interiors have grown up since they first arrived in our homes in the late 1980s: think a little less cluttered and a touch more tailored; less of the shabby and more of the chic. Here are our tips for achieving the look…
Both reassuring and deeply comforting, neutral linens are the bedrock of the shabby chic home. Their simplicity beautifully balances more romantic flourishes and introduces all-important texture to shabby chic homes. Our Serrano collection of fabrics woven from the finest European linen includes Groselto, a classic herringbone that would be perfect for a more tailored piece, and Collodi, the ultimate woven linen fabric that is ideal for elegant yet understated upholstery.
An incredibly versatile design, the checked fabric is your new friend when it comes to creating a shabby chic décor. Use it when you want to add a little embellishment without too much fuss: a frill on a plain or floral cushion, for example, or a ruffle on a slip over or eiderdown. A check also lends itself beautifully to shabby chic window treatments: this Roman blind is made up in our Danube check, a 100% linen fabric that works equally well in a townhouse or a more rural setting. And when it comes to country blinds, a small ruffle is perfect for adding a shabby chic aesthetic.
Skirting the issue
Romantic yet supremely practical, slipcovers offer the opportunity to bring a ruffle, a flounce, or a frill to a shabby chic interior. It is important, though, to maintain a balance: juxtapose a skirted armchair with a more tailored sofa, for example, so that you have the mix of a soft, pretty piece with a more structured one. This slip over, made up in our captivating Albertine linen, offers a pleasing foil to the clean lines of the painted wooden table, while the cover, too, combines flounce with restraint: a fitted “top” and a more voluminous ruffled skirt. More shabby chic ideas come in the form of plain cushions with a contrasting frill and a painted table with scalloped detailing.
While florals are still key to shabby chic interior design, the faded designs of the 1980s are a thing of the past. This time around, floral fabrics are punchier, bringing a bolder edge to the shabby chic look. Upholstering a low-slung chaise, our Louis fabric, a Chinoiserie design in 100% linen, encapsulates the aesthetic. The prettiness of the print is balanced with the slightly industrial style of the table and lamp, while all-important textures come in the form of tongue and groove walls –painted to pick out one of the colours in the upholstery fabric – and natural sisal flooring. Shabby chic interior design in its chic contemporary guise.
While 1980s shabby chic interiors embraced very pale hues spanning pure whites to shades of chalk, today’s shabby chic home incorporates more earthy tones. Picked from nature’s palette, shades such as amber, moss, cinnamon and bark are the perfect antidote to the more feminine aspects of shabby chic, bringing depth and all-important warmth to a scheme. Use these colours to introduce grounding accents or upholster a piece of furniture in an earthy shade and lift it with cushions in tonal floral fabrics featuring ruffles. Our Sienna design, pictured here in Amber, is an inviting boucle fabric that comes in 26 hues including several enticing earthy tones, from rich Carmelian to calming Winter Moss.
Having the edge
For anyone dipping their toe into the shabby chic look for the first time, floral cushions are a wonderful starting point. They will lend prettiness to a plain sofa, soften shabby chic furniture such as wooden or rattan chair and bring a touch of femininity to a bedroom. The modern way to introduce a ruffled or frilled edge is with a plain fabric – just look at our new Double Ruffled cushions, pure shabby chic romanticism. And on that note, remember that less is often more when it comes to today’s shabby chic interior: use an element of restraint by mixing plainer cushions with your ruffled or frilled designs.
When it comes to shabby chic interior design for bedrooms, an upholstered headboard in a deeply nostalgic floral provides the perfect opportunity to capture the style without requiring metres and metres of fabric. The aesthetic is informal so a gentle curve for the headboard will suffice; you might also consider adding buttoning or a frilled trim. Shown here is Tresco, a quintessentially English trailing floral that is a reworking of an archival artwork. Key to the shabby chic aesthetic are the mismatched floral cushions, which pick out the pretty hues of the headboard. A gently battered trunk – the ultimate piece of shabby chic furniture – completes the look.
There is nothing like breezy linen curtains for bringing romance to a shabby chic interior and these patterned curtains in our leafy Hester stripe are ideal for creating a timeless home décor. For a subtly bohemian effect, the bottom of the curtains has a border in the same stripe – this time used horizontally – while more volume has been added with a layer of plain fabric that picks out the mustard hue in the print. Pretty yet free of fuss, this is the contemporary way to create a shabby chic look.
Less pale and punchier, pared of the frothiness yet still deeply feminine, shabby chic has certainly evolved since the 1980s – and it is all the better for it.
What is shabby chic interior design? The shabby chic interior sees the return of romantic, subtly bohemian decorating that brings a sense of heritage to the home. Today’s shabby chic look exudes a feminine aesthetic that is not overly fussy, heralding a style that is more grown-up than the shabby chic décor of the 1980s.
Is shabby chic going out of style? On the contrary, the shabby chic aesthetic is gaining in popularity. It perfectly captures our desire for homes that exude a sense of nostalgia and feel welcoming and well loved.
What are the elements of shabby chic style? Shabby chic interior design sees vintage furniture combined with soft furnishings in a range of natural fabrics, from neutral linens – including some earthier tones for depth and cosiness – to florals and checks. Romantic touches are key to shabby chic interiors and encompass frills, ruffles, and flounces, tempered with tailored pieces to avoid the overly frothy shabby chic look of yore.
How can I make my house look shabby chic? Introduce some shabby chic furniture pieces: choose older furniture styles with a subtly distressed edge, as well as slightly worn, vintage accessories. Channel shabby chic couture with romantic flourishes such as ruffles, frills and flounces on cushions, slipcovers, headboards, and curtains. Fabrics in neutrals, checks and florals are important for bringing a sense of nostalgia to a shabby chic interior.