A shabby-chic home décor comes with many advantages — it’s playful, relaxed, imaginative, low maintenance and inexpensive. If you love DIY projects and repurposing different objects, this eclectic style that combines vintage, mismatched furniture with pastel colors, floral and lace accents is the right choice for you.

But how much shabby chic is too much? Don’t fall into the trap of overdoing it — not every single element of your home needs to be upcycled, distressed or lace-embellished. You’ll end up with a claustrophobic, cluttered space, instead of a happy, relaxed and unconventional home. Here’s how to create the shabby-chic aesthetic into your own home, without overdoing it:

1. Put the focus on a few spectacular pieces of vintage furniture

Vintage furniture is one of the cornerstones of the shabby-chic style. Turn a few well-chosen pieces — credenzas, showcases, old chests, cabinets, drawer chests — into focal points of your home. Now is the time to go through your grandma’s storage unit in search of some cool furniture that will fit perfectly into your shabby chic interior.

Use your imagination and your DIY skills. Re-paint the furniture to go with the color scheme you chose for your interior. Other furniture upcycling techniques, such as decoupage, are also a good fit for this type of interior design.

Steer clear of excess, however — don’t decorate every piece of furniture, and don’t clutter your rooms. Combine eye-catching, vintage furniture with contemporary pieces featuring clean and simple lines. Well-maintained, upholstered and vintage furniture is expensive and hard to come by. So, for the living room, you could go for modern sofas and armchairs plus some interesting, striking cabinets and drawer chests.

A vintage clothes hanger in the entryway and a table with chairs in the kitchen will bring the shabby-chic charm into those areas of your home without making it look too busy or staged. As for the bedrooms, it’s preferable to limit yourself to accessories, decorations, and smaller pieces of furniture — a bedroom bench or an ottoman, for example.

2. Choose your colors wisely

The shabby-chic interior design emphasizes pastel colors. However, moderation is key when it comes to colors too. You don’t want your home to look like a doll’s house — you can prevent that by using neutral colors on large surfaces (walls, floors) and using pastels as accents here and there.

Don’t shy away from the occasional bold color — imagine your home as a painting, where you use neutrals (beige, off whites, grays) as the background, pastels for items you want to highlight, and deep, bold colors as the surprise elements that prevent monotony. In other words, if the walls and floors are neutral, furniture can be pastel, while also adding some accessories and decorative elements featuring deeper shades.

3. Get creative with decorations and accessories

Tie your home décor together through accessories and decorations. Florals, feathers, birds, leaves, lace, old prints and more are all motifs that go very well with a shabby-chic interior. Don’t mix all of them — instead, pick a combo that works well together, like flowers and birds, for example. Make the combo a recurrent décor element that runs through every room of your home and turns it into a coordinated whole.

Wallpapers, wall art and decoupage on furniture, pillows or carpets are ways to introduce your favorite motifs into your home décor. Make sure that the shades featured on these decorations also integrate well with the general color scheme of your home.

4. Play with textures

The wow factor usually derives from contrasts — and you should play with contrasting textures and surfaces. Decorate your distressed coffee table with delicate lace doilies, and cover rustic, whitewashed floors with a soft carpet.

Use different types of textiles but try to favor natural fibers. Burlap fabric adds a country, rustic touch that goes hand-in-hand with the shabby-chic style but soften the look by combining it with linen or cotton fabrics. If, for example, you’re planning to upcycle an old armchair by re-upholstering it with burlap fabric, make sure that the pillows are made of more delicate fabrics.

5. Be unconventional about wall décor

Don’t limit wall décor to the usual paintings or framed photos. An interesting door from a vintage cabinet or a wooden window recovered from an old barn will create a striking focal point on your living room wall. Other less common wall decorations that go great with a shabby-chic interior are old locks and keys, or mixed collectibles, such as antique clocks, mirrors and dolls.

The shabby-chic interior design is a great fit for people with an artistic streak. It’s also an interesting option for young people moving out of their parents’ homes for the first time, as upcycling and repurposing old furniture is less expensive than buying new stuff. Follow our suggestions if you want the final result to be a cozy, original, and uncluttered interior.


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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