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Shabby chic is a mix of soft colors and lived-in furnishings

September 05, 2013

Hardwood FloorsA room that's outfitted with soft upholstered seating, a side table with a stack of books and beautiful hardwood floors like those in Anderson's Lone Star collection would be at home in country-style decorating or cottage decor. But add touches of shabby chic and you'll ensure that the room has a comfortable, lived-in atmosphere.

That's because shabby chic goes a step beyond country or cottage style. It's supposed to look weathered, but in a good sense, with the use of generations implied in its worn painted edges and casual layering of fabric.

A gently faded look
Slip-covered sofas and wicker side chairs with large cushion seats fit this type of home design. Rather than bright florals, a faded look prevails in subdued prints and stripes. Curtains can be lacy or simple sheers, both reminiscent of an earlier era.

Window treatments that work well in a shabby chic decorating scheme include valances in wood or upholstery and shutters painted white, off-white, or left natural in a light pine or maple tone to match wood flooring.

Shutters that cover only the bottom half of the window can be closed to limit bright sunlight coming into the room without shutting it out altogether. They also provide some privacy at street level, while retaining a view at the tree line.

Choose soft colors
The chic part of shabby chic comes in the mix of soft colors that include creamy white, muted gray, dusty peach and light green. These hues are generally complemented by throw rugs, sheer curtains and vintage accessories often with a botanical or seaside theme.

Old wooden furniture from flea markets and garage sales can get the shabby chic treatment by being painted white, with corners and edges sanded to give an aged appearance. An old trunk works well as a coffee table.

Versatile benches
Window seats and bench seating are strongly associated with country or cottage decorating and, by association, with shabby chic. While a window seat may not always be possible architecturally, a bench often provides a similar look up against a wall with a window or tucked into the corner of a room for a reading area.

It's also a versatile piece to use in a breakfast nook or in combination with chairs in a dining room. A rustic farm table with painted chairs on one side and bench seating on the other can be tied together by paint colors or fabrics used for seat cushions.