Shabby-Chic is a fantastic decorating style – it’s cheap, easy DIY décor using items that, in many cases, would have been tossed aside. With shabby-chic, you aren’t recycling old items – you are upcycling (meaning you are giving old items a new purpose and a new usefulness). So not only are you doing a great thing for the environment, you are saving money – and it’s fun! So what’s stopping you?
For many, the thought of DIY projects can be a little intimidating. It also takes time to find just the right item, decide how to use it, and then possibly paint or alter it to serve its new purpose. But once you finish that first item, the satisfaction (and the accolades from family and friends) will be all the motivation you need to tackle the next project – and the next!
Shabby-Chic décor is cozy, comfortable, and unexpected. For example, let’s say you stumble across some terrific old cutlery – but it is just a couple of odds and ends – a couple of forks and a soup spoon. Bend them so there’s a nice curve at the end of the handle and the usable end is bowed toward you. Now, attach them to a board painted white and distressed. These become great hooks that you can hang in the kitchen or by the door. These unexpected uses for old items are at the heart of shabby-chic decorating.
Keep in mind that you are aiming for rustic and charming — just because something is old doesn’t mean it will work for your space. Items that are too far gone and can’t be repaired probably shouldn’t find a spot in your home. Also – “upcycling” doesn’t mean hoarding – sure, you want to hang on to glass jars (paint them and use them for vases, candleholders, kitchen storage, etc.), but you don’t have to save everything. If you do plan to reuse an item, don’t set it aside and forget about it. Get your project done right away so the item isn’t abandoned in a corner to collect dust.
You’re decorating with “found” objects, so go find them! Stores will charge quite a lot for their “ready-to-go” shabby-chic items. Sure, it’s already done, but part of the fun of shabby-chic decorating is getting to personalize your items. Instead of shopping in stores, head for flea markets, garage sales, and antique stores. Look for vintage items that have achieved a naturally shabby look through age (a wrought-iron headboard with a touch of rust for example, or candlesticks with a nice patina) and for items you can use in unexpected ways (an old shutter works perfectly as a “mail center” in the kitchen).
Have fun with it! You didn’t spend much (if anything) on the item, so it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work out the way you envisioned. Okay, so you found an abandoned end table and decided to paint it neon green and hated the end result. That’s okay – you are only out the cost of the paint. But the next time you take a risk, you could end up with something fabulous — so keep trying!