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Opening Times (GMT): Mon to Thur - 8:30 - 5:00 Fri - 8:30 - 4:00
Shabby Chic is all about being comfortable. Not only in terms of decor and furniture, but also in your own skin. And indeed in your own home... or at least, artfully creating the appearance of it. Shabby Chic is a very relaxed style that not only embraces imperfection, it seeks it out.
The ‘chic’ part of the name comes from the elegance and sophistication of the mid-century antique style furniture associated with this style. ‘Shabby’ references the exaggerated aged effect or ‘patina’, or possibly the carefree mix of historical references, styles, and motifs.
This soft, casual interior style is often seen in country cottages and other country-style period homes that contain busy spaces filled with an assortment of ephemera and antiquated pieces acquired over several generations.
This diversity is exactly what Shabby Chic is all about. Mixing period furnishings that appear aged, and show clear signs of wear and tear, with new items that are distressed, to achieve the appearance of an antique. It is this faux-patina that differentiates Shabby Chic from authentic period living. It also means you can do it on a budget without having to be a historical purest. So when it comes to antique pieces, ‘faking it’ is as good a making it!
Interiors are light and bright spaces heavy on neutral and pastel colours. Large comfy sofas and rocking chairs are clad with throws, blankets and scatter cushions. Weathered or painted wooden flooring is softened with chunky textured rugs. Floral, decorative fabrics and wallpapers are common. Bold traditional patterns like Tartan, checkered and plaid are popular choices. Motifs are varied and bold – however, they are used as accents on a neutral backdrop rather than as a bold statement in their own right.
Shabby Chic is personality over appearance. Adopters of this style often display their most personal photographs and artifacts openly, without worrying about visual clutter. The comforting effect achieved by being surrounded by heartwarming memories transcends any comfort achieved from decor alone. The whole style oozes nostalgia.
Many Shabby Chic bathrooms adopt a ‘beachcomber’ theme using seaside motifs and driftwood countertops with sinks mounted on top. You will often find objects like shells, pebbles and starfish used to rekindle memories of forgotten beach holidays.
The kitchen is often in the country style with a worn-in weathered appearance achieved from hours of sanding, rather than decades of wear and tear. The painted wooden table and chairs would again have faux-patina and burnished corners. And of course, no Shabby Chic kitchen would be complete without the obligatory Aga range and a Shaws Belfast sink , both of which are signature accessories for this style - and highly ‘Instagrammable’!
A Shabby Chic interior is meticulously styled to look like it has casually assembled over years of good old-fashioned living – used but not abused. After all, Shabby Chic should look how it makes you feel – relaxed and comfortable.
To experience the best that shabby chic has to offer try staying at Babington House in Somerset. This Soho House owned manor is situated on 18 acres in the English countryside. There’s an element of grandeur to the distressed interiors, which are decorated with ornate mirrors, brightly-coloured velvet-covered furniture, bedside freestanding baths and log fires.
Alternatively, if you’re ever in Oxfordshire in the English Cotswolds try Mr. Hanbury’s Mason Arms, a thatched inn from the 1500s that creates an even cozier rustic romance with eclectic decor and pub-inspired fare. The inn is part the Artist Residence Hotel, which looks like your typical English idyll. However, on the inside, the original inglenook fireplace and flagstone floors clash happily with House of Hackney wallpapers, Andy Doig’s neon signs, and pulp fiction inspired art by the Connor Brothers.
Read our ‘Get the look’ journal post on Shabby Chic for interior ideas and inspiration.
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