Shabby chic is an inimitable combination of the rustic and refined. Its secret lies in celebrating the beauty of aged and unusual objects, such as characterful chandeliers and antique, burnished furnishings. Designed to suit any home, it can be broken down into five core design features, which are simple to incorporate into your own aesthetic.
An ornate chandelier can be used to great effect in an unexpected position, for example, as an opulent touch in an already well-lit bathroom or to add drama to the entrance hall. Choose a striking metal like antique brass, or make the lights and crystals the focus with a plain white frame. However, unlike most other design schemes, which would typically place a chandelier as the focal point of a room, in shabby chic décor it's more likely to harmonise with a collection of bold, statement furnishings. If the room has low ceilings, you can create a similar effect with an elaborate semi-flush light fitting, which will hang closer to the ceiling to add an equally opulent touch.
An all-white colour scheme will create an effortlessly elegant aesthetic. Paint the ceilings, walls and floors the same colour, allowing accessories to take centre stage. Spreading plush woven rugs over the floors will add depth and comfort and avoid echoes of minimalism. While painting, bear in mind that every white is different, each made up of different shades. For a warmer room, choose underlying pink and yellow tones, or channel calm and cool with blues and greens. When you have chosen your shade, soften the edges of the space with chalky white or pale ivory linens and sheer drapes.
Mirror, mirror on the wall
A Baroque, ornate mirror looks exceptional against a white wall, embellishing the room while keeping the light, open ethos of shabby chic. You can choose to match the frame to the metalwork of your chandelier, or enliven the entire wall with an assortment of carefully chosen, ornate frames. Paint each frame the same colour for a contemporary take on an inviting Victorian parlour.
The new romantics
Faded florals, vintage linens and pastels take centre stage in shabby chic design. Match some soft floral bedding to an elegant chaise longue and low upholstered stool in the master bedroom. In the bathroom, choose a shower curtain with gentle ruffles, then hang intricately patterned chintz blinds in the windows. Using statement antiques with your romantic, floral pieces will keep the look sophisticated. You can also experiment with this contrast between old and new, using worn, coloured glass bottles to house fresh flowers.
Mix and match
Shabby chic enthusiasts are often creative people who celebrate the charm of historic, unique pieces. Bring the style’s trademark classic comfort into your living room with distressed leather armchairs and pale floral pillows. In the study, juxtapose subtly worn wooden chairs and wickerwork with gold lamps and an opulently curling Louis XIV bureau. If your house has particularly notable features, for example terracotta tiling or brickwork, expose them to create a new statement using pre-existing components of your home.
Visit Engel & Völkers to see exclusive properties in shabby chic and other unique interior design styles. Our experienced experts are always on hand to help you to find a home that will inspire you.