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The Appeal Of Shabby Chic

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Shabby chic borrows from everything and anything and brings them all together into one modern design. This design is all about making new furniture look old, and utilizing antiques for a fresh look. Be ready to find shabby chic items anywhere from your grandmother’s house to your local estate auction.

Counter-cultural influences become inspiration for shabby chic

The inspiration for shabby chic decor came from Great Britain. The design started as a counter-cultural movement among Bohemians and artisans in the English countryside of the 1980s.

During this period in interior design, expensive decor was en vogue among the upper middle classes; a trend that sparked an artistic revolt in the form of recycled furniture and fabrics. Putting these overtly “shabby” pieces next to streamlined, high-end furnishings became an artistic mode of expression.

Many of the early adopters of this style considered their pieces works of art. The term shabby chic, as it is known today, came from 80s fashion designer Rachel Ashwell. The authenticity of DIY finds, remains at the heart and soul of the shabby chic movement, even today. The best DIY finds are usually found in estate sales, auctions, and flea markets.

The beauty of imperfection

As a form of interior design, it’s all about unifying items that don’t normally go together. The first place you see this principle at work is in the color palette. Shabby chic uses light airy pastels that are grounded in warm earth tones. It’s not uncommon to see whites, neutrals, sky blues and rose pinks anchored by Tuscan yellows and burnt oranges. Stronger shades like red and black are avoided so that they do not dominate a space. The colors are then matched up with items that speak to a more refined taste. Think about things that look antique, but probably aren’t.

The furnishings used for shabby chic are specifically chosen for their age or distressed appearance. Newer items can even be distressed to look like antiques. Pie safes, jelly cupboards, and overstuffed seating get paired with bright, edgy accents; breathing new modern life into cotton and linen prints and unique patterns. If what you are visualizing resembles a large country estate-historically speaking-you’re not far off the mark.

Keen eye for design

The go-to places to find good bones for shabby chic design are still auctions, estate sales, and flea markets; anywhere distress-worthy treasures might lurk. This is the best way to find the mismatched signatures shabby chic is known for. Start by looking for larger anchor pieces that are actually antiques: Chairs, tables, desks, cabinets, and chests. Once you have settled on the larger pieces, look for eclectic filler items and knick-knacks: Oval antique picture frames, oil lamps, old-fashioned milk bottles, wooden ducks, vases, and collectibles.

As a general rule, don’t shy away from distressing certain items yourself. It is often a cheaper route to go than to pay full price for a genuine antique. A keen eye and the right design elements can give you the shabby chic look at a fraction of the cost. Just remember not to lose your unifying finishing touches in the mismatched mix. Use some simple slipcovers for your dining room chairs, antique knobs and pulls to accent your distressed finishes, wrought iron curtain rods with flowing sheer panels, and a table set with lace, country prints, and porcelain tea cups.

Don’t be surprised if it takes you a few tries to find the perfect balance that ties it all together. When you are working with a new interior design concept, it can take some time to get everything just right, but once you do, you won’t regret it. Invest yourself in your design of shabby chic and you’ll reap the rewards.

We invite you to our upcoming estate auctions. There are great items that can be used in your shabby chic decor. If you have questions about how to schedule an auction, our services, or simply desire additional information, call us today at (806) 244-6776. You can also connect with us via email by clicking on Contact Us. Check out our website to see our upcoming auctions and offerings.