Over the years, there has been an explosion of a culture, or perhaps a movement, in interior decor, of furniture and furnishings, known commonly as the Shabby chic look, which seamlessly blends the old with the modern, resulting in a distressed, tired, yet modernistic appearance.
This style was quite popular in the 1980s amongst modern Bohemians and Artisans in the United Kingdom who challenged the fashionable and expensive culture of the upper middle classes with their unconventional, non-bourgeois style.
Today, it is well-loved in the urban community, with many fashion-savvy folks, ‘urbanistas’, keen to evoke a more rustic decor than an ostentatiously lavish, gleamy look.
The Shabby chic style does remind one of those old English country houses where you find well-worn Chinz sofas, heavy fleur de lis curtains showing wear, embroidered curtains whose gold material and threads have faded into dull creamy colours, of old French chateaux and farm houses where most of the paint have peeled off the external walls and hardwood furniture, revealing original wood or a blend of discolourations, or even of the 18th century Swedish painted decoration.
Conservative yet bold, the Shabby chic culture represents a very cosmopolitan take on the vintage, of age and well-used, yet stylish, trendy and exuding great taste.
Recycling old fabrics and furniture is very much part of the Shabby chic culture.
I fell in love with the look when, many years ago, I holidayed with my family in the village of Maffliers in the Val-d’Oise department in Île-de-France in Northern France.
There, I was fascinated by the old, faded-looking beautiful French buildings lining the narrow streets and in one home I was invited into for a drink, I was blown away by an old chaise longue. The piece had this time-worn heavily embroidered, silk-like material covering. But what caught my attention was the old Satin blue paint peeling off the entire wooden leg surface, exposing a rather dull creamy-coloured hard wood underneath. The design on the legs of the furniture was ancient-looking, very Gothic. The material covering the chaise longue looked tired but adorable. I fell in love!!
That was my Shabby chic awakening moment!!
Now I’m always looking out to rediscover that feeling in every piece I come across.
Here’s one I designed and hand-painted recently:
If you haven’t been bitten by the shabby chic bug just yet, you just wait, there’s no escaping it!