How to decorate a living room in shabby chic decor

Written by siva stephens
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How to decorate a living room in shabby chic decor
Cosy up your living room with Shabby Chic decor. (woman in the mirror image by Lovrencg from

"Shabby Chic" is a decorating style developed by interior designer Rachel Ashwell. She wrote a book by that name in 1996 espousing the beauty of comfortable, practical possessions that have aged with the patina of use. The Shabby Chic decorating style results in rooms that are welcoming and warm; it's just the right mix of casual and elegant. A Shabby Chic living room works for entertaining and family time alike.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Wall paint---flat (white or pastel)
  • Trim paint---high gloss (white)
  • Whitewash or diluted flat white paint (optional)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Rollers
  • Drop cloths
  • Painter's tape
  • Loosely fitted slipcovers for upholstered furniture
  • Cushions
  • Afghans or quilts
  • Sandpaper
  • Dried flower wreaths
  • Vases of fresh flower arrangements
  • Light fixtures (vintage or vintage-style) with hardware
  • Decorative plates in hanging brackets
  • Paintings
  • Mirrors
  • Accessories

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  1. 1

    Paint the walls white or your favourite pale pastel. Paint the doors and trim high-gloss white. If you wish, give exposed stone or brickwork a single coat of diluted, flat white paint or whitewash.

  2. 2

    Paint any wooden furniture (and the exposed wood on upholstered furniture) high-gloss white. "Distress" the pieces by rubbing the edges, corners and surfaces with sandpaper in a few spots to remove some of the paint.

  3. 3

    Cover upholstered furniture in white, pastel or floral in slipcovers. Place lace, cotton or velvet cushions in whites, pastels and florals at an angle in the corners between the arms and the backs of all seats. Drape throws or quilts over the back of a couch and/or a chair. Arrange the furniture in casual conversational groupings.

  4. 4

    Hang dried arrangements over doorways. Put live flowers in vases all over the living room---in pastel shades, of course. Roses are especially suited to this style.

  5. 5

    Find vintage light fixtures (or buy new fixtures that look vintage), such as chandeliers and sconces, and paint them white. Replace existing features with the white ones.

  6. 6

    Hang decorative plates in clusters on the wall---again, look for florals and pastels. Hang pictures and mirrors that feature ornate frames which have been gilded or whitewashed. Display your collections by grouping them together. Candles in candlesticks, decorative spheres and china figurines all accent the romantic Shabby Chic style.

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