Shabby Chic is a design style that has been around for many years now, and while modern looks have taken over lately, it has never really disappeared. As our lives become more technology-driven, many of us appreciate classic and comfortable things more and more. Call me old-fashioned, but I still love a big cushy sofa with lots of soft pillows. If it is slipcovered so the dogs can join me, even better! However, not all of us can live with the super-feminine style of American Shabby Chic. Shabby Chic really originated in England, and it refers to the art of making do in the most chic way as your surroundings become, well, shabby. Shabby Chic in Europe is recycling at its finest. So it is no surprise that our latest Shabby Chic looks are coming out of our desire to recycle and re-use timeworn pieces. Displaying a distinctly European touch, Shabby Chic now has influences from both England and France. Follow me as we visit one of my recent projects, a French Shabby Chic Master Bedroom.
My clients are a couple whose style is distinctly cottage-comfort. They have a teenager and two huge Labradoodles, and they really live in their home. The bedroom had to be practical and comfy, but also beautiful – they were ready for a romantic retreat. They already had a beautiful wool carpet with a trellis of ivy in shades of taupe, and a slipcovered loveseat in khaki cotton I had done for them years ago. One of the problem areas was a bank of large windows, wonderful for letting in light but also a problem with summer heat.
When I arrived, they had already cleared out their old furniture and had purchased some French art prints as inspiration. This is what the room looked like when we began:
I decided the carpet was the perfect inspiration for a theme of vines and botanical touches. The couple has had large floral patterns before and wanted something different.
After a day of looking at fabrics together, this is what we settled on:
We used a linen sheer fabric for draperies, leaving it unlined to allow for light-filtering in summer, and added a border to the edge in a silky embroidered vine fabric. The vine fabric was the source of our wonderful color scheme of taupe, aqua, and butter yellow. Under the curtains, we used woven bamboo shades with a blackout lining for sleeping in. The window treatments add a lot of softness to the large room without being heavy.
To accommodate a TV but keep an open feeling, we found a large console that was designed as a dining room piece – it’s handpainted with vines, flowers and birds on a distressed ivory background. It is so gorgeous that you hardly notice the TV on top! It provides an anchor to the room and the front is beautiful to look at from the bed.
For bedding, soft and pretty and washable was the client’s request. Since they had a four poster for years and were ready for a change, we made a large linen-covered headboard. It’s extra-tall to fit the large room, and mounted securely to the wall. The linen is a Belgian Flax Linen that has the perfect oatmeal color – not too dark, not too beige.
I found a French style damask fabric in tones of butter yellow and light brown, and we pre-shrunk it to make a soft, washable duvet and European pillow shams. The vine fabric from the window treatment appears again in a gathered and puddled bed skirt.
Finally, a collection of handcrafted pillows with peacocks, ticking stripe trim, and tassels adds that French Shabby Chic touch to the loveseat and bed.
We added a mirror made of old ceiling tins, and our client found a fantastic chandelier that has vines ending in crystal buds. It sparkles against a ceiling painted aqua blue.
In the adjoining Master Bath, the clients had a beautiful Soumack rug, which I used for color inspiration:
We slipcovered a vintage vanity chair in a combination of fabrics, and added a new window treatment and pillows to the dormer:
The end result speaks for itself – romantic, and elegant with a French touch.
And most important, so practical when those Labradoodles show up.
Kerry Ann Dame is a designer and co-owner of Posh, a Home Store in Surfside Beach. Her pillow designs be found online at Designfolly.com; Facebook at Posh Living, or by phone at (843) 238-0078