• Shabby Chic Décor
  • Post author
    Jane Passmore
  • interior decorinterior decorationshabby chicshabby chic cushionsshabby chic decor

Shabby Chic Décor

By Jane Passmore - Homestead Range

In this article we will look at how and when the Shabby Chic Style came about, who was responsible for creating it and its' features. We will also discuss how it has evolved.

The Origins of Shabby Chic

The style began in the 1970’s in England. It was an attempt to convince people that antique furniture and the grand old homes that were aged and deteriorating were assets. Modern Bohemians and artisans who made up a sidelined counter-culture movement played a large part in the creation of the style during the 1980’s.  At that time expensive and quality décor had become popular with the upper middle classes.

The Features of Shabby Chic

The style was originally quite grand. It was the type of décor found in the large country homes of England. It conveyed a mood of elegance and relaxed good taste with an air of the ancestral properties. Shabby Chic later took on other forms of decoration ranging from 18th century Swedish, French Chateau and the American Shakers where simplicity and plainness were major features. Treasures faded or scuffed were sought after from antique furniture to the smallest decorative items. The style of those possessions was classic and pleasing to the eye. Many finds were the cast offs of the well to do.

Fabrics gently faded and worn by time were made from natural fibres; mostly linen but also cotton and silk. Chintz and velvets were popular and patterned fabrics very often featured roses.

cushions nz

Shabby Chic Cushion

Windows were adorned with quality draperies that featured swags with a luxurious effect.  

Timber floors didn’t shine but rather glowed with an aged patina from long years of wear. They often featured faded but beautiful oriental rugs.

Paint colours were very natural in muted creams, earthy tones and very soft pastels. Chandeliers from the Rococo era added an elegant touch.

Artwork of a high standard was very much in favour in the Shabby Chic interior. It was beautifully detailed and painted in quiet colours.

The finishing touches to the Shabby Chic interior included lovely old objects and treasures. They were artfully arranged in a way that was neither strategically placed, nor thrown together.

The Shabby Chic Décor Name

The term “Shabby Chic” was coined during the 1980’s by The World of Interiors magazine also established during that decade. Min Hogg a founding editor of the magazine had a lot of time for the style and greatly encouraged it.                                                                

How Has the Shabby Chic Décor Evolved?

Initially relaxed, yet elegant with a mood of confidence, it was comfortable and exhibited an appreciation of furniture and furnishings from days gone by. No one cared if the condition of things wasn’t brand new because it was high quality and built to last.

shabby chic interior

By the 1990’s the style had become popular in America where it began to incorporate different decorating styles that were more contrived. Furniture paint effects initially quite beautiful became over distressed and and often dirty looking. Purposely faded fabrics had a bleached appearance. Antique looking lamps, perfumed candles, and a myriad of vintage and new items made up much of the stocks labelled “Shabby Chic” in many stores and as such commanded a high price.

By now in 2015 the style has grown expanded and changed throughout the world. It seems there are two schools of thought when creating a Shabby Chic interior today;

One has grown and developed with the original concept and ideals. It embodies the needs of the present. The style of the beautiful living area in the picture below could well be entitled Shabby Chic with its eclectic assortment of beautiful items both old and new, thoughtfully put together. The result is a look that is elegant and comfortable. The simplicity of the design is compatible with the philosophy of "less is more" in line  with the Shaker influence from the very early days of Shabby Chic décor.

Shabby Chic Interiors


The other school or following uses the label of Shabby Chic but it seems the look has gone of the rails so to speak.  Beautiful antiques which by definition are more than a hundred years old, appear to have  been replaced with badly distressed more modern furniture, Gone are the classic lines.  An abundance of frilly pillows and cushions feature in this rather eccentric style. If they're piled high to almost toppling - even better.  Any number of bits and bobs are thrown in to the mix and the qualification for use seems to be that if anything is a pastel colour it has to be Shabby Chic   


The true Shabby Chic style of decoration has been a wonderful asset to our world of interior decoration. It has a valuable appreciation of quality and finer things from our past.  We need to consider carefully how we blend the old with the new if we are to succeed in achieving the Shabby Chic Style. When we do we are well rewarded.  Another huge benefit of Shabby Chic decor is the encouragement to recycle which is such an important factor in our world today.

 I believe this wonderful decorating style, used properly, will be around for a long time to come

Thank you for reading this blog.  Any comments and feedback are most welcome

  • Post author
    Jane Passmore
  • interior decorinterior decorationshabby chicshabby chic cushionsshabby chic decor

Comments on this post (1)

  • Nov 06, 2015

    Great article. It’s a great help to understand about shabby chic decor. It can really give a better understanding and inspire people to create shabby chic interiors closer to the original idea. Looking forward to the next article.

    — Nic Hughes

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