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How to Give Brick the Shabby Chic Cottage Look

Updated March 23, 2017

The shabby chic cottage look shares much with the rustic and French country looks, with one noticeable exception. To create a shabby chic cottage finish on walls or other architectural elements, you typically integrate white, antique white or cream as one of the main hues. Natural materials, however, should show through the pale veneer. You can easily transform a brick wall or architectural element into a shabby chic cottage surface through the use of faux finishing techniques.

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  1. Clean your brick surface to avoid too much shabby and too little chic. Begin with a dry dusting, using a broom to reach any high areas and access tight corners where cobwebs proliferate. If necessary, you can rinse the brick wall to remove debris, or use a wire brush.

  2. Choose a type of faux finish to achieve a shabby chic cottage brick effect. Avoid glossy and slick finishes. If you want a highly textured look, typically better for a smaller area such as a fireplace or backsplash, use a single-application craft crackle paint. Make sure the brand you use indicates that it can adhere to a brick surface.

  3. Create a luminous backdrop. Your ideal shabby chic brick treatment involves whitewash. Take heed to use a thin coat of whitewash first, and let it dry completely. Resist the temptation to cover up exposed areas or even out inconsistencies, because this weathered, less polished look characterises cottage style brick elements.

  4. Check the various sections of the brick surface in well-lit conditions. If certain sections seem too dark, add spots of whitewash here and there. If you are covering a large amount of wall space, adding more whitewash can help lift the room and open up the interior.

  5. Distress the finish further. After the whitewash thoroughly dries, use some fine grain sandpaper or, for a rougher look, thick gauge steel wool, and rub away at the whitewashed surface. Pay particular attention to corners, niches and places where the brick meets the floor or ceiling, typical areas that show wear first.

  6. Tip

    Keep decor simple and the palette pale or icy to maintain the shabby chic look. Add furniture and accessories that incorporate other natural elements, such as stone, paper, ceramic, bamboo and wood.


    Finishing or painting already damaged brick can result in an excessive amount of rubble and dust. Fix brick and mortar before attempting to finish it.

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Things You'll Need

  • Broom
  • Wire brush
  • Crackle paint
  • Whitewash
  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrush

About the Author

Nina Makofsky has been a professional writer for more than 20 years. She specializes in art, pop culture, education, travel and theater. She currently serves as a Mexican correspondent for "Aishti Magazine," covering everything from folk art to urban trends. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College.

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