How to Choose the Right Shabby Chic Furniture

Posted In Design - 10/24/2019

Shabby Chic

What is Shabby Chic?

Informal yet elegant, shabby chic design blends several different types of decor to create a cozy atmosphere. Pastel color schemes, vintage accents and ornate traditional furnishings with weathered finishes are all key components of this look.

The rules for this style are fairly lax, which is why these casual yet refined layouts are so popular. We've put together the following guidelines with all the basics you'll need to plan and arrange a shabby chic living room, bedroom, kitchen or dining room.

Color Palette

Pale neutrals and pastels are the signature colors for shabby chic style. Opting for ivory, tan or eggshell walls and furnishings allows you to introduce other hues through artwork, accent pieces and other decorative items. In smaller rooms, lighter walls can also make the space feel more open, which is always a plus.

Walls painted in delicate blush, mint or sky blue form a lovely backdrop for white shabby chic furniture. You could also layer different tints and shades of the same hue through pillows, rugs, curtains and lamps for a monochrome effect. Alternatively, you can choose prints and patterns to highlight a complementary color that will stand out against your neutral decor.


Shabby chic furniture is about celebrating imperfection. Chipped paint, scratched surfaces and mismatched sets are all part of the aesthetic. The use of natural fabrics, weathered wood and metal with an aged patina creates the charm and authenticity that's central to this approach.

When choosing shabby chic fabric, select textiles like wool, cotton and burlap for a little rustic appeal. Soft, rumpled linen is another versatile option that works beautifully as a comfy slipcover or tidy table cloth, which is especially useful if you want to conceal or downplay furnishings that are too dark for your color scheme.

Carefully Cluttered

Unlike transitional or contemporary layouts, shabby chic style lets you get away with a little strategically placed clutter. Keepsakes, lamps, framed photos, figurines, glassware, fine china, potted plants, candles and all sorts of different decorative objects can be part of your design.

It's important, of course, to assemble these pieces in a way that's balanced and visually pleasing. Coordinate your shabby chic decor by size, color or purpose, so each arrangement feels curated rather than random. It's important to self-edit, too, so these items add character without overshadowing the overall theme.

Design by Room

Living Room

First of all, shop for a traditional sofa, loveseat and armchairs to start your shabby chic living room design off right. Be on the lookout for classic details like rolled arms, slightly rumpled slip-covers and a skirt. To complete your layout, select wood or metal tables with a weathered finish. Allow yourself plenty of surface area for candles and floral arrangements.

Once your shabby chic living room furniture is set up to your liking, seek out textured fabrics and accents to give your space that characteristic charm. Wool throws and artfully placed linen pillows in pastel colors boost your couch's coziness factor, while ornamental mirrors, wall art, hanging plants and a vintage chandelier bring the whole motif together.


A classic metal frame in antique bronze is a smart choice for a shabby chic bedroom as it coordinates well with natural wood accents. For a more romantic approach, choose a canopy bed and surround yourself with gossamer curtains. If you prefer something a little more conservative, a stately poster bed brings rich detail to your master suite.

When it comes to shabby chic bedding, select floral or paisley comforters that echo your wall color or add a complementary hue. Look for chunky knitted blankets, a faux-fur ottoman or a pleated bedspread to introduce texture and heighten the room's visual interest.

If you want to save time and money, buying a bedroom set is a quick and cost-effective solution. Just search for coordinated suites with distressed finishes and traditional details. If picking out individual pieces appeals to you, seek out a graceful 5-drawer chest or an elegant vanity to round out your collection.


One easy way to establish a comfy, homespun atmosphere is to paint the walls in an off-white or pastel hue. Decorate your shabby chic kitchen with a scrollwork baker's rack or a rolling cart made from reclaimed wood. If you have a spare corner, you can also opt for a weathered ivory bistro set and create a cozy breakfast nook.

Also, little embellishments like lace-trimmed curtains, aged metal canisters and hanging pots full of growing herbs are the perfect finishing touch for your design.

Dining Room

Styling a shabby chic dining room can be simple or challenging depending on your approach. You can pick up a complete collection with a distressed finish and ornate splat back chairs, or choose individual pieces and create your own set. Mismatched side chairs are okay, too. However, it's best to keep at least one element, like height, general shape or color, roughly the same, so your layout has a cohesive look.

There's also a lot of other furniture you can add to a shabby chic dining room to establish a well-loved, homey setting. A china cabinet with antique pulls gives you plenty of display space for fragile curios and trinkets. On the other hand, a gorgeous credenza is useful for dinner parties and can serve as a surface for plants and photos.

Shabby Chic Style Summarized

This type of room design speaks to those who treasure comfort and embrace flaws or imperfections. By following a few rules, using a simple color palette and focusing on well-worn furnishings and vintage shabby chic decor, anyone can recreate this cozy style in a kitchen, bedroom or living room with a little planning.

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