HOW DO I SHABBY CHIC MY INTERIORS?
Thank God we have moved away from the prison like home decor of a few years ago.
The mid-noughtie’s up until relatively recently, had been like living in an extremist Ikea catalogue, without any of the fun bits.
Perhaps finally, the general public has now had enough of furniture that looks like a roomful of ironing boards and wants something with just a little more panache.
And that style can be found easily in the French country style of Shabby Chic.
The good news about Shabby Chic is that just about anyone can attempt it and it needn’t cost a fortune.
WHAT IS SHABBY CHIC
Shabby Chic is grown up antiques little sister. This does not mean that some pieces of Shabby Chic are not genuinely beautiful or even highly prized in their own right. Just that the look can be very easily achieved – aka faked – and does not have to be all about the money that it cost to buy it.
Shabby Chic furniture has a homely country or cottage style edge to it.
It is usually associated with faded elegance, of a piece which has been used time and again and possibly been through a few coats of paint along the way.
The piece may or may not be an antique – usually the latter – but it looks like one and this is all that matters.
It is probably unlikely that you would paint a genuine antique Queen Anne dressing table bright turquoise, so finding a cheap replica in the same style and jazzing it up is the preferred option all round.
And it is cheaper!
One of the great things about Shabby Chic is that it can applied to virtually everything that is made of wood. You can transform anything from shelving units, to dressing tables or chairs.
Painting is one of the obvious markers of a Shabby Chic piece. This is a look which relies on multi layering and is not too bothered to find little areas of wear or tear on an item, with the previous colours showing.
The style is also characterised by the “distressed” look of the furniture, which doesn’t mean that it sits in the corner crying, but that it has been sanded down to give a roughly hewn finish.
It may or may not be then painted with glazes or bright colours and even have various motifs applied, such as flowers and other designs. It all really depends on your own sense of personal style, how much or how far you go with the look.
WHERE TO FIND SHABBY CHIC
The good thing about Shabby Chic is that you may already have some pieces which can benefit from being refurbished in this manner, just sitting around either in the loft or in a spare bedroom.
This is the opportunity to put a lot of old, unloved pieces of wooden furniture to good use.
You may even come across these pieces in dumps and skips. But if you are looking to buy then auction houses, house clearances, charity shops and other places like that are where to look. Online, try Etsy or Ebay – anywhere that sells cheap and second hand furniture in other words.
THINK ABOUT IT FIRST
Before you dive in, have a little think about the piece you have selected to transform and what the overall decor of the room you are going to place it in is.
Will it fit in?
What is the colour scheme?
By and large, creamy colours such as whites and greys work well with the Shabby Chic look. Other colours such as pale blues and greens are also popular and if you want to, there’s nothing to stop you using hotter shades like pink too.
But alternatively, a simple gloss or wood stain may suffice. The natural look may mean you keep the wood intact more or less, with just a light varnish.
Stronger colours could mean painting the item white underneath and then placing a much bolder colour on top, leaving some of the undercoat exposed.
It is up to you and your tastes to decide how you would like to play this.
WHAT YOU NEED
- SOME WARM WATER IN A BUCKET
- SUGAR SOAP
- DUSTERS AND BUFFING BRUSHES
- LOTS OF PAINTBRUSHES – ALL SIZES
- A FILLER KNIFE
- CLEAR SATIN INTERIOR VARNISH
- ONE-COAT WHITE MATT EMULSION (IF YOU ARE GOING TO USE COLOUR)
- YOUR CHOSEN COLOUR OF ONE-COAT MATT EMULSION (ONCE AGAIN, ONLY IF YOU ARE COLOURING THE WOOD)
- OVERALLS OR PROTECTIVE CLOTHING
- A DUST MASK
- PLASTIC SAFETY GOGGLES
- SOME RUBBER GLOVES – WASHING UP GLOVES ARE FINE
A BRIEF HOW-TO SHABBY CHIC
- PREPARATION: Get rid of the present finish on the wood. If the item has been waxed, use wire wool and white spirit. To get off varnish, remove with sandpaper.
- PRIME IT: Using water based acrylic primer, apply the first layer.
- PAINT IT: Apply two thin layers of a colour of your choice in a water based acrylic paint. If you are not going for a colour, use a clear acrylic varnish.
Make sure the first layer dries fully before painting the next. After the first layer is applied, you can sand it with fine sandpaper.
- DISTRESS IT: Instead of using the same colour twice, you select two different colours to use for your two layers of paint.
Parts of the second layer can then be rubbed down to create the “distressed” look.
To achieve this, you put clear furniture wax where you want to make the distressed wood effect over the dried first coating. Paint your second coating. Allow it all to dry including the wax. This peels the second coating off to reveal the underneath, when you wipe it over with a soft cloth.
- FINISH IT: Finish the effect with some clear wax furniture polish for maximum shine, if you are not using a clear varnish.
Take a look at this video for an idea of how to do it.