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Style Guide: Shabby Chic

Furniture and accessories of this style appear aged and have a sense of history about them with visible signs of wear; if new items are incorporated into a space, they are often distressed to achieve the appearance of an antique. The overall feel is soft and opulent, yet with a cottage-style decor that is warm and approachable. This look is easy to recreate on your own and is forgiving to a few nicks and dents, which makes it perfect for a young family.

To achieve this look, DESIGNER Dominic DE FREITAS and his team:

  • Incorporated items found at a local flea market — like the antique tin ceiling tiles and doors — and repurposed them as decorative elements. Their distressed, worn finish highlights the debossed motifs of flowers and scrolls.
  • Chose a colour palette based on pure and slightly off whites, as well as ecrus with accents in bleached-out pastel colours of soft moss green, dusty rose and cornflower blue.
  • Selected handcrafted pottery and ceramics with matte finishes; the pieces have an inherently artisanal and organic look and feel.
  • Created vignettes that told a story by grouping similar items together (purposefully avoiding identical items). A story can be created based on the type of material the objects are made from, their intended purpose (a theme) or colour palette.

DOMINIC’S ADVICE FOR MASTERING SHABBY CHIC STYLE:

  • A general tip to keep in mind is that grouping items in threes looks more natural and less forced than an even numbered grouping – when things are overly symmetrical they can look stale and cold. Achieving the perfect look is a fine balance between asymmetrical and symmetrical.
  • The distressed woods and weathered metals of shabby chic decorating can make it easy to give off a vibe that is more ‘shabby’ than ‘chic.’ To keep it modern and fresh looking, balance time-worn pieces and natural materials with furniture forms that possess clean lines.
  • Pieces that you plan to keep for a long period of time and that will get the most use are worth splurging on. This includes a comfortable sofa (that can be reupholstered or slipcovered), or a statement piece such as an armoire or striking light fixture.

Want more decor inspiration? Check out our Shabby Chic Style Guide, with exclusive tips from designer Dominique De Freitas and subscribe to receive three more style guides directly to your inbox along with exclusive bonus content and expert tips and inspiration.