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Not so shabby - but definitely chic

If you are looking to decorate your home in a style that is relaxed and comfortable, a style that welcome and makes you feel instantly at home, and one that is easily updated without spending a small fortune to achieve the look - then Shabby Chic is definitely a style that you will love.


The practice of throw-away buying has drastically changed in the last few years.  It is for this reason, that decorating in Shabby Chic style comes to the fore. Not a new trend by any means, Shabby Chic has been around for a while now, and is showing no signs of leaving.

Shabby Chic is instantly recognisable by the use of a casual decorating style that incorporates elements that lovingly worn and distressed, yet still elegant and chic. Repurposed furnishings, natural materials and a white colour scheme deliver a shabby chic feel with a crisp, polished look.

Not limited to whites, Shabby Chic can incorporate many other softer colours. If you're worried about children and pets, use fabric such as burlap, canvas and neutral weaves to slipcover furniture - as long as fabric is easily washable it looks good in a Shabby Chic setting.

Natural and organic materials are used to add layered texture to room settings.

To create a shabby chic space with a slightly contemporary edge, try injecting streamlined furniture, accessories and architectural interest. Here, a board and batten wall treatment, modern white frames and a clean-lined daybed happily co-exist with a demilune table, traditional-style lighting and a salvaged gym floor accent wall.





With the recent revival for choosing up-cycled over new furniture, it’s clear that we are going back to vintage roots by thrifting and creating, with a make-do-and-mend attitude.

I think the reason shabby chic furniture has been so successful is down to its transferrable nature – blending in to most interiors seamlessly - and the fact that Shabby Chic is not defined by specific guidelines, but more often than not incorporates a variety of styles, colours and furniture painting techniques used. The distressing technique used is what make furniture look good – the dents, scratches and uneven surfaces all add to the character and individual nature of the piece.

Create the look

If you want to bring shabby chic style into your home, look at the furniture that you have and examine the various ways to give existing pieces a new look.

Once you have your chosen piece of furniture, you will need to prep the surfaces to be painted by removing all hardware and stripping any existing paint or varnish. For this you are going to need 60-, 120- and 220-grit sandpaper, as well as paint stripper. Keep it green by using RemovAll to strip away layered paint and varnish.

Once the item has been stripped and sanded, get rid of any dust by wiping it down with a cloth slightly wetted with mineral turpentine and then allow to dry.  

I don’t always use primer, but depending on the condition of the wood it is sometimes necessary.  This particular sideboard is in a good condition, so instead of a primer I will be apply two coats of Prominent Paints - Premium Matt - white.  

For a contrast in colour, use white as the basecoat and a slightly darker colour for the top coat; this can be a light shade of grey, cream, taupe, or any light colour you prefer. When applying the paint always go in the direction of the wood grain, keeping minimal paint on the paintbrush and with nice thin layer.  It’s quality, not quantity that you want.

Allow each layer of paint to dry properly before adding the next.  Keep applying even layers. I tend to leave the piece to thoroughly dry for a minimum of 24 hours before distressing.  Some people do not like the distressed look, so you could always leave it as above and just add Woodoc Antique Wax as a protective layer.

When distressing the furniture, there are so many routes and degrees of 'aging' that you can do. To distress I use 180-grit sandpaper. The trick is to sand in one direction repeatedly. If you want to create extra damage and bruise the furniture, use metal chain or the edge of metal tools to beat the furniture. Once you’re content with the finish, you can either leave as is, or add a coat of Woodoc Antique Wax as a protective layer.