Modern design increasingly combines a variety of elements traditionally associated with different eras. The hugely popular shabby chic, also known as French Country decor, is no exception. While you may recognize some elements offered by popular TV shows and Pinterest, shabby chic effectively captures and combines tidbits from hundreds of years of design.
Identifying shabby chic means looking for a range of characteristics. Above all else, it’s an interior design style that leans into vintage furniture and furnishings. Antique lighting, rustic accents, and distressed finishes all apply here. In a bit of contrast, ornate carvings in the Baroque style also find their way into the mix. Even reflective metallic pieces have their place.
Shabby chic also includes feminine touches like lace, historically associated with Victorian or country design. The color palette is soft, feminine, and neutral. Natural fibers and even live plants also soften the edges of other statement pieces.
Given the vast array of features this style marries together, it’s no wonder shabby chic is hard to define in a few words. For that reason alone, you’ll find it best to focus on carefully-selected mismatched items that represent different eras.
Of course, individual elements of French country have come and gone, each passing through as a popular trend before being combined and defined as “shabby chic” by London-born stylist Rachel Ashwell. It’s been a few decades since she first fell into the style – mostly a result of getting couch covers to help deal with the realities of life with young children. From there, she drew the attention of friends with her seemingly eclectic choices, and realized there was a widespread interest in both antiques and newer furniture weathered to look old. Soon after that, she launched a flagship store stocked with flea market finds, and she’s since expanded into several stores across the United States under her brand, Shabby Chic Couture.
Shabby chic is an interior design style that appeals to the masses for a variety of reasons. Not only does it invite the opportunity to mix and match family heirlooms with quilts, a stainless steel tea set, and ornate mirrors, but it’s also a way of expressing a love of nature. In fact, French Country speaks to love of all kinds. It’s even become a popular wedding theme in recnet years, as evidenced by the increased use of mason jar lighting, chalkboard art, and distressed picture frames.
It’s also an evolving style that allows for easy updates. Unlike a full-scale transition from distinctly-defined industrial to cottagecore or rustic to midcentury modern, making changes within the shabby chic realm allows you to just swap out an item or two for a fresh look, no major overhaul required.
Another standout characteristic of French country is the fact that it’s easy on the wallet. Many interior design enthusiasts rely on a combination of their own DIY skills and budget-friendly thrift shops to make their shabby chic dreams come true.
Overall, the appeal of shabby chic is that it has something for everyone. Starting with a neutral base, it layers in the texture of heavy wood, eye-catching curved designs, engraved leaves and other tidbits of nature, and even a touch of floral from the boho realm for endless aesthetic possibilities ranging from Farmhouse to aristocratic. From whimsical furniture and fabric combinations to elements that send you back to the warmth of your great grandmother’s home, French Country signifies everything that marries touch of glamour with good old-fashioned rustic appeal.