Design Dilemma: A New Take on Shabby Chic | Home Design Find

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Design Dilemma: A New Take on Shabby Chic

shabby111 how to tips advice

If there’s anyone who knows how to do shabby chic, it’s the Swedes.  But they’ve got a different take on the British look popularized by Rachel Ashwell in the 80s. Ashwell’s look emphasized all-white interiors, distressed furniture, vintage items and a feminine feel enhanced by time-worn floral textiles and soft pastels. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, check out the photo below:

shabbychic diningroom l1 how to tips advice

The Swedes however, have adopted a look that embraces some of the elements of traditional “shabby chic” but with modern flourishes and a nod to cutting edge design. It’s sparer, punchier, less feminine, and to our minds, less trite.

Check out the first photo and the next two photos below:

shabby12 how to tips adviceshabby12  how to tips adviceThese shots all come from a home designed by Swedish designer  Marie Olsson Nylander. True to Shabby Chic form, the interiors are largely white. Many elements are distressed, such as the distressed leather chair, the battered yellow door, the painted black desk and the rustic wood coffee table and study desk.  There is also a feeling of comfort, which is always important in relaxed yet elegant shabby chic. However, nothing is allowed to get cute, or too feminine. Modern elements such as the oversized floor lamp, the strikingly modern lucite chairs and the wire eames chair keeps things feeling current. So do the use of geometric tribal textiles and the pops of bright color. It’s all related to shabby chic, but it feels more youthful, more personal and more modern.

Here are other examples of the same sort of look in another home:

shabby2 how to tips advice

shabby5 how to tips advice

shabby4 how to tips advice

So if you like the shabby chic aesthetic, (mostly minimal, battered and all white) but you’re looking to update it a bit, here are a few ideas to bring it into the 21st century:

  • Mix it up by introducing modern elements into your decor. It could be a modern lamp, a chair, a pendant lamp or something else. The key is not to do all vintage which was the hallmark of the old shabby chic. Mixing is more interesting, more vital, more real.
  • Lose the floral textiles, opt for stronger, geometric prints. Kilims are a good middle ground, because they can feel vintage and relaxed while still feeling modern.
  • Go for bold art. The shabby chic look seems to emphasize small-scale art works, often delicate prints or watercolors of flora and fauna. Opt instead for larger striking pieces — either photos or paintings that set a bolder, modern tone.
  • Embrace punches of bright color. Time to branch out from the washed-out pastel colors of shabby chic past. Have fun with rich jewel tones and primary colors in accessories and pillows.


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One comment so far to “Design Dilemma: A New Take on Shabby Chic”
  1. Liz Says:

    I really enjoyed this post on shabby-chic, love all of the different designs!

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