What is Shabby Chic?

I love all things vintage, this is no surprise given the items I’ve regularly posted on the blog and across social media (my recent Singer sewing machine find being a good example – I do love this machine!). While many items in my house are vintage or vintage-styled some of the items in my home also fall under the shabby chic category. I’ve realised however that shabby chic is now a blanket word for a whole range of styles.

There are shabby chic items which are very rustic in nature such as French-style wire chicken baskets blackboards and white painted egg boxes. These always seem to come under shabby chic. There are shabby chic materials such as printed cloth which is used for clothing, tablecloths and even bags which claims to be shabby chic and a popular theme at the moment seems to be sprays of roses.

I’ve seen checked / gingham kitchen items such as tablecloths, tea towels and even jam jar lids described as shabby chic too (I think these are more kitsch than shabby). There are shabby chic writing styles now (really).

I’m not convinced. To be shabby chic usually is connected to furniture and is specifically “shabby”. There are certain paint effects that look old and rubbed down which I feel represent shabby chicness and yet the interiors market is flooded with “shabby chic” items which really don’t encompass what the style truly is about.

According to Wikipedia shabby chic is:
A form of interior design where furniture and furnishings are either chosen for their appearance of age and signs of wear and tear or where new items are distressed to achieve the appearance of an antique. At the same time, a soft, opulent, yet cottage-style decor, often with an affected feel is emphasised to differentiate it from genuine period décor”.

This is spot on (as Wikipedia usually is) and for me encompasses what shabby chic truly is. Why the confusion then? Have people lost the meaning of shabby chic? Has it become such a commonly bandied about term that we’ve forgotten when it actually means or have companies and individuals abused the term in order to increase sales? Often if you add the term shabby chic to any item you are able to charge a little more, just as you can when you add maternity, business or any popular word or term.

What do you feel shabby chic is? There are some fabulous shabby chic examples around the internet from authentic vintage and basically old and worn pieces which definitely fall under the category as well as a number of strong shabby chic styled pieces of furniture or home accessories. I’m just not convinced that it should be used as such a blanket term as many seem to be confused about what shabby chic actually is.

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