Shabby Chic for Small Homes

Taking Parisian and English Victorian influences, shabby chic is a year-round fashionable interior style. Regal and elegant with a soft ‘well-loved’ look, it is romantic, warm and homey.

You can buy shabby chic items or create your own by distressing old pieces of furniture. Here, we explain some of the main qualities of the shabby chic look as well as where to get furniture and how to create the gorgeous finish.

shabby chic




Key characteristics

Shabby chic items are full of character, feminine and elegant. Furniture finished in this way typically has a distressed or worn feel to it. The style has a vintage look, but the original items themselves don’t necessarily need to be old; the finish can be added to more contemporary items too. Think Little House on the Prairie mixed with a French country cottage. The Rococo style of furniture is popular among shabby chic enthusiasts too.

Pieces are often in white or off-white but this isn’t a strict rule – you’ll likely see pastel colours such as baby pink and turquoise in the finish too. The distressed finish is created by using sandpaper to rub down areas of the furniture – particularly the corners of doors or around hinges which would naturally wear over a period of time.

shabby chic for small spaces

Buying shabby chic

You’ll find shabby chic cabinets, wardrobes, chairs, tables and more in your local second-hand furniture stores, as well as charity shops and antiques specialists. You might even be lucky enough to pick up some special pieces in house clearances or auctions too.

Some shops specialise in new items which have the shabby chic finish too. If you prefer to look online, try or

DIY shabby chic

If you prefer the DIY approach, you can easily recreate the distressed look on your own furniture or with second hand items you pick up. It’s best to stick to items made from good quality wood that will withstand the treatment process.

If you’ve not experimented with the shabby chic finish before, you’re better off starting with a small item of furniture like a side table rather than committing to something larger or awkwardly shaped in the first instance.

shabby chic for small homes

Adding value to your home and the items in it can be a very rewarding experience. But make sure that if you buy expensive items or modify existing pieces of furniture, you update your contents insurance – especially if you dramatically alter how much your possessions are worth. Find a good deal at Compare The Market.

It’s important not to go overboard and finish every single item of furniture in the shabby chic style – it’s perfectly acceptable to mix old and new. If you’d rather create the look with some shabby chic accessories and decorations, here are some ideas:

  • Use an old jug as a vase
  • Hang a blackboard in your kitchen and use it for grocery lists
  • Line the insides of drawers or shelves with floral wallpaper
  • Place tea lights on a cake tier as a table centerpiece
  • Suspend a hanging basket in your bathroom to hold floral smelling soaps
  • Use an old bike as an ornament – put flowers in the basket and you’ve got a unique flower pot
  • Tie gingham ribbons around door handles
  • Scatter floral cushions in alcoves of windows
  • Use old glass medicine bottles as ornaments in your bathroom
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