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What is Shabby Chic Interior Design?

Shabby chic style originated in the 1980’s and remains one of the most popular interior decorating styles. This trend combines elegant, feminine details with used or antique furniture for a gentle, comfortable room. This style has a few signature characteristics that make it easily identifiable.

Aged or Distressed Furniture

Brand new furniture with a modern shine has no place in a shabby chic bedroom or living room. Instead, furniture is carefully selected that already has a worn look to it. Antique furniture or items that already have a hand me down look are used when decorating with this style.


The very nature of this design style is feminine. Rooms that are decorated to have a shabby chic look often use softer colors and have accents of frills and lace. Every accent used has a touch of elegance to it. Examples of decorations commonly used include:

  • Pillows with tassels
  • Satin bedding
  • Wall art in soft colors
  • Lace cloths on tables or nightstands
  • Floral patterns
  • Soft, comfortable fabrics

Shabby chic combines a luxurious look with antique style for a unique appearance that is soft and inviting.

Soft Colors

This interior design style comes with its own palette of colors. Pinks, blues, and greens are a common theme. For neutral colors, most decorators stick with an antique white. Stark white often provides a modern appearance, while antique white has the aged look that many people are looking for with this style.

Metallic Accents

Metallic colors often have their place in these rooms. Paintings that are decorated in soft blue with metallic flakes adorn the walls and elegant tables with a golden trim are used in place of chunky wooden furniture. Gold, bronze and silver all add aesthetic appeal to this style.

Overstuffed Furniture

Furniture is meant to be comfortable and used according to those that love this style. You will rarely come across a hard, decorative bench with no accent pillows in these homes. Instead, everything is soft, from the pillows to the feel of the couch as a person sinks into it after a long day.


Pillows remain a popular accent piece in homes with this style. They are used to add comfort and feminine appeal in each room. Decorative pillows often have beautiful patterns or edging to help them stand out. Plain, hard decorative pillows simply do not coordinate well with this decorating scheme.


Instead of a square mirror, a shabby chic room will have an elegant mirror with the curves of an antique mirror. Legs of furniture, including chairs, are often curved as well. There is nothing modern about this look, so it is best to avoid straight, clean cut lines.


If there is one common color seen with this decorating style, it is white. Often, various shades of white will be seen throughout the room, and it provides an open space feeling that nothing else can compare to. When using white, avoid too much bright white and anything with a high gloss to truly capture an antique look.

Shabby chic, a design style that came to the United States over 25 years ago, has become popular across the world. While it may decrease in popularity for a short time, it does not take long for this one of a kind style to make it’s way back into our homes and our hearts.