How to create a shabby chic garden

Updated April 17, 2017

The Shabby Chic style of decorating was first introduced by Rachel Ashwell in the late 1980s and has become a decorating empire. Its hallmarks are faded fabrics, rusty garden implements, furniture sporting peeling paint, chipped china dishes and cups, pastel colours and vintage chandeliers. But Shabby Chic style doesn't end at your doorway. It continues on into your outdoor spaces as a mix of seemingly untamed English country garden and repurposed vintage items that appear to have seen better days.

Plan the layout of your Shabby Chic garden to appear random, even wild. Choose and place a variety of plants carefully to enhance this look.

Train roses and other climbing plants like wisteria, trumpet vine and ivy to grow up an arbor made of grapevines or cedar weathered to a soft grey.

Plant annuals like geraniums, pansies and impatiens in weathered, vintage containers like dented tin buckets, wire baskets lined with sphagnum moss and chipped terra cotta pots.

Fill a vintage clawfoot tub with a variety of herbs.

Cut the middle out of the seat of a vintage chair with peeling paint and insert a pot filled with a variety of colourful flowers.

Float single rose blossoms in vintage tea cups with floral designs and place them on tables around the garden.

Line meandering gravel walkways with hosta, English ivy and creeping rosemary. Place taller plants like daisies, lupin and lilies in clumps behind the border. Add flowering bushes like lilacs and peonies.

Create a casual dining area with mismatched kitchen chairs painted soft white and peeling. Or apply pastel pinks and greens and antique the finish to give it an aged appearance. Couple them with a chipped porcelain kitchen table or one of wood that has been allowed to weather outside in the elements. Spread a tablecloth in a faded floral pattern or one in vintage lace over the table for a more formal look.

Tuck a cosy seating area into a quiet corner. Furnish it with grapevine chairs highlighted with cushions covered with faded floral chintz fabric. Toss an old, worn quilt over the backs to guard against cool morning or evening breezes.

Relax in wicker rocking chairs painted white or pastel pink or blue over a deeper colour like black or deep green. Remove some of the top layer of paint to let the darker shade show through, giving the chairs a vintage appearance.

Scatter vintage birdcages throughout the garden. Choose those made of wire to give the garden a Victorian flair. Tempt the birds with rustic wooden birdfeeders. Choose some that are weathered or have been antiqued to look old.

Display a collection of rusty, vintage watering cans in varying sizes and colours. Couple them with antique wheelbarrows and garden implements like rusting trowels and shovels.

Highlight flower beds with a variety of stone cherubs in different sizes. Select those with peeling paint or some that have moss growing on them.

Create a romantic mood by hanging a vintage chandelier from a tree branch.

Things You'll Need

  • Variety of plants
  • Arbor
  • Tin buckets
  • Wire baskets
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Terra cotta pots
  • Claw foot tub
  • Kitchen chairs
  • Kitchen table
  • Tablecloth
  • Grapevine chairs
  • cushions
  • Quilt
  • Wicker chairs
  • Birdcages
  • Birdfeeders
  • Watering cans
  • Wheelbarrows
  • Garden implements
  • Stone cherubs
  • Chandelier
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About the Author

Jan Czech has been writing professionally since 1993. Czech has published seven children's books, including “The Coffee Can Kid," which received a starred review from School Library Journal. She is a certified English/language arts teacher and holds a Bachelor of Arts in education from Niagara University.