How to Create Shabby Chic Furniture

Written by katherine kally
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Shabby chic furniture is romantic and comfortable and fits into your French country, eclectic or cottage style home. You can easily transform existing furniture pieces into shabby chic style with paint, slipcovers and decorative appliques. Repurpose your own furniture or give new life to pieces you find at local thrift stores and yard sales. Save money and help the environment while creating an inviting shabby chic home decor.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • White primer and paint
  • Paint brush
  • Medium- and light-grade sandpaper
  • Polyurethane
  • White or floral ruffled slipcovers
  • Decorative wooden appliques
  • Wood glue
  • Hammer
  • Finishing nails
  • Wood putty

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  1. 1

    Paint and distress a wooden coffee table or occasional table for your living room. You can paint over stain or paint, but you must first sand the surface of the wood to prepare it for the new finish. Wipe the wood with a damp cloth to remove all of the sanding debris. Paint a coat of primer, let it dry and apply a coat of white paint. Run medium- and light-grade sandpaper along the edges of the table tops and sides. If your table has legs, fold the sandpaper into your hand and run it lightly along the leg. Medium-grade paper will take off more paint than the light-grade, but use both for variations in your furniture. Remove the paint randomly, more in some places, less in others. When your table is shabby enough, apply a coat of polyurethane for shine and protection.

  2. 2

    Cover your existing sofa and chairs in white or floral slipcovers. Select covers with ruffles along the bottom of the chair for a feminine, romantic touch. Shabby chic furniture is often overstuffed, but you can add ruffled throw pillows in soft floral prints or solid pastels if your existing furniture is not thickly padded. To create a set of shabby chic furniture, select white slipcovers for the sofa and a floral pattern for the chairs. Mismatched patterns with coordinating pillows against a background of distressed white tables set the stage for a shabby chic room.

  3. 3

    Apply ornately decorative wood appliques to your wooden dresser or night stands to help create a romantic shabby chic bedroom. Remove the drawers from the bedroom furniture. Sand the drawer fronts, sides and tops of the wood furniture and remove the sanding debris as described in Step 1. Apply the appliques to the centre of each drawer front with wood glue and finishing nails. Prime and paint the drawer fronts, the sides and the tops of the dresser and tables. Let the finish dry, then sand off some of the paint around the sharp edges of the furniture as well as the appliques. End with a coat of polyurethane.

Tips and warnings

  • Sand the paint from the edges of your furniture in stages; it's easier to take off more than it is to repaint.
  • Always stain or paint in a well-ventilated area.

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