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Take a peek at Shabby Chic

Nov 19, 2021

21 min


In a pandemic era where life demands simplicity, a home style that offers peace and comfortability makes its way to popularity.


A style that blends baroque glamour and rustic charm and is often referred to as "French country," Shabby chic is known for upcycling forgotten objects and pieces of furniture from another era to bring a classic, wholesome and welcoming vibe that is opposite from the luxury and liberalism that sentimentally cute Pop-Victorian style brought. 

This style has its origins and inspiration from the farmhouses situated in the terrain of Great Britain and was later on popularized by Rachel Ashwell. Almost 32 years had passed since the hype for the style that promotes the beauty of imperfection and enchantment on time-worn objects began, and this year, shabby chic gained the spotlight once again.

How did it start? 

Last year, we saw a growing population of interior designers who incorporated designs using an inspo from a niche aesthetic based on elicit influences of an ideal life in the Western countryside. The popularity of this style was inspired by some of the most prominent fashion subcultures in 2020, known as Cottage core and "Grandmillenial" designs. 

Grandmillenial design, on the other hand, is a portmanteau of grandma and millennial designs. A style where modern-day fashion co-exists with fashionable retroelements inspired by grandma’s closet. This fashion style dons vintage-inspired pieces like crochet sweaters and earth-friendly wardrobes.

Cottagecore and Grandmillenial are fashion trends that display modesty and elegance of the hip, young and fashionable. Such fashion trends eventually became home decor inspo by more interior designers in 2020, which resembled a popular design back in the 80s known as Shabby Chic.

The Shabby chic style

Shabby Chic houses furnish their interiors with old and faded furniture like chintz sofas, curtains, and other vintage elements like old paintings and recycled fabrics. Aside from this, the style incorporates feminine floral prints and designs that signify country design. Subtle colors like bright white and beige dominate Shabby chic designs. Lighter shades like lavender, light blue, and pink are also on its list. Wallpapers, white curtains, large chandeliers, and slipcovers were also present in shabby chic. 

Different types of shabby chic 

Shabby chic interiors in 1989 often blended cozy flower-bedecked English cottage style with a modern Californian coastal lifestyle approach. In the case of Ashwell, it's pretty different because she mentioned that she didn't follow any rules in building this style. However, she stated that it has to be more about the beach in one of her Shabby Chic Decorating Books, giving rise to one of the popular shabby types, which is Shabby Beach Chic.

Beach cottage chic

"Simple, spacious, with a little bit of shelliciousness," this is how Ashwell described Beach cottage chic. This type of decor is dominated by white -- the walls, distressed furnishings, sofas, and even slipcovers. If not white, these elements are mostly accentuated with soft pastels to keep the vibe cordial.

Cottage chic

“Cottage Style isn’t a style. After all, a cottage is meant to be lived in, to be enjoyed, and is usually the recipient of all the cast-offs from the real home.” as stated by Coral Nafie in an article she published for The Spruce about Cottage Style. However, since cottage furnishings and accessories have grown in popularity it somehow became an inspiration for style. According to Nafie, in Cottage Style, anything (and everything) goes. So how does this style look when combined with shabby chic? Unlike beach cottage chic which is often spacious and simple, cottage-style shabby chic is cramped with a  mix of fabrics used for slipcovers, upholstery, curtains, draperies, table skirts, pillows, and MORE. To achieve a collected look, this style coordinates a variety of prints like stripes, checks, tartans, and of course, florals.

French country

While Shabby Chic is often used interchangeably with French country, the latter is considered part of the former. French country shabby chic, on the other hand, is inspired by vintage farmhouses in the French countryside. Like beach cottage chic, French country shabby chic is often spacious, and since this style is not overwhelmed with details, weathered pieces and chandeliers often catch attention.

Gustavian (Swedish)

The Shabby chic style that emphasizes fabulous lighting, decorative chandeliers against a clean backdrop, and furniture with carved legs.

Gustavian Shabby Chic was inspired by the Gustavian style, which dates back to the 1770s and is known to incorporate elements mentioned previously. Soft yellow, blue and traditional gray are often present in the Gustavian color palette.

Photo: Billet Collins/Pinterest

Photo: HGTV/Pinterest

Which of the following Shabby chic styles appeal the most to you? Is it the spacious and simple beach chic, the cramped cottage chic, the French country chic with stand-out furniture, or the fabulous Gustavian chic? Whichever style that may be, make sure to follow the next steps once you have your next home construction to perfectly achieve this sought-after style of the hip, young and fashionable millennials this year.

How to get this style?

Make ceilings and floorings look rustic but stylish

Setting beams across the ceiling is one of the most natural treatments if you want to achieve a rustic environment. Use a distressed-looking but durable wood or a lightweight composite and stretch them across the width of the ceiling. Place the beams lengthwise and use angled corner pieces to achieve a Tudor effect. 

To make your floorings look rustic, tell your custom home builder to use weathered wood.

Design walls and windows with theatrical curves

Once your general contractor or renovator is done making your ceiling or flooring rustic, the next home elements that should be taken carefully into consideration are your home and windows. Incorporating lines and curves into these elements evoke a sense of life and movement. To create a dynamic visual flow, ask your homebuilder to incorporate stylish curlicues, spirals, and dramatic sweeping lines on your walls or cabinets. If possible, ornate carvings on window frames and other home furniture are encouraged.

Soft color accents 

Since Shabby chic aims to be cordial, color palettes used to accent the house are made up of neutrals and soft pastel colors. As much as possible, use beige, cream, as well as the colors mentioned earlier like pink, lavender, light blue, and white for walls, bedding, trim, and even on your flooring. Just ensure the proper color combination of these sets so that it is pleasing to the eyes. Check this blog to guide you in color selection. If you want to introduce other colors, make sure that they are on the lighter side of the spectrum as much as possible. However, glints of gold and silver are an exception because shabby chic relies on these colors for its soft-spoken elegance.

Distressed furnishings

To accompany your rustic ceiling, weathered flooring or walls with intricate carvings are distressed furnishings on your wooden cabinet, tables, and other furniture. If you have authentic antiques, make sure to include them as well. A great addition would be weathered metal chandeliers, lamps, metallic frames, and oxidized iron lighting. Adding shiny patinas on selected decorations and furniture is also recommended.

Bring in the foliage

What is countryside inspo without the existence of naturals? Plants and fresh-cut flowers on the vase and applications of floral and earthy prints on shabby chic beddings, sofas, curtains, and slipcovers in soft pastel colors are therefore advised. A great way to add to the natural ambiance is ornate carvings on wooden furniture depicting crawling vines and other earthly movements.


Rustic ceiling, lively curvature on walls and window frames, soft and neutral accents, distressed furnishings, and the existence of earthly elements. All these, along with your exceptional skill and love for sorting, are necessary for achieving this interior design trend for 2021. So, don't forget the latter, and make your shabby chic dream home come true!

If you're unsure how to do it, there will always be trusted custom home builders, contractors, or renovators in Tampa, Lutz, Clearwater, and Dunedin who are always ready to help you. :)

This is the third post for our four-part series about interior design trends in 2021. If you haven't read the first and second parts, don't forget to check them out too!

This article was last updated on May 30, 2024