Looking to redecorate your living room but don’t have the fortune to spend? Let me introduce you to Shabby chic decorating style. It’s soft and romantic design aesthetic is perfect for a room that is one of the main gathering spaces for the family, while its vintage vibes allow you to decorate with thrift store gems and flea market finds. Let me tell you more!
To create a shabby chic living room on a budget, there are a few key elements that you will want to incorporate:
- Wooden or repurposed furniture.
- Slipcovers in white cotton or a delicate floral print.
- Vintage Fabrics
- Floral Patterns
- Soft, well-worn floor coverings
- Romantic decorative items
- Up-cycled and unique chandeliers or lighting.
Shabby chic decorating is one of the easiest styles to accomplish if you are on a budget. Keep reading for more details and ideas for how you can redecorate your living room without breaking the bank!
What is Shabby Chic?
Shabby Chic is a decorating style that was inspired by English country homes that are filled with well worn, comfortable furniture, faded wallpaper and fabrics, and art and decor that have been passed down through generations.
The goal is to create a look that evokes an elegance that has softened through time, which is comfortable and romantic.
Because this style is vintage, it is easy to find items from furniture, linens, and fabrics, and even decorative pieces at flea markets, thrift stores, and yard sales. Use paint, especially white, to revitalize and transform your finds.
Repurposed and Painted Wooden Furniture
Furniture is the bones of a room, and this is especially true in the living room. Living room furniture can be very costly to purchase new, but there are great ways to get around this.
One way to do this is to pick up used furniture and paint it to change its patina.
The armoire and wing chair below are great examples of this. Old wing chairs can often be found in old, ugly upholstery, but a coat of white paint cleans it right up. Large dark wooden furniture like this armoire is transformed with a gently weathered white paint job.
A flat slate gray chalk paint revitalizes a china cabinet into a great display case for plants, knick-knacks and photos. Add a primitive style handmade banner for a cute handmade touch.
Simply whitewashing the legs of this console table and leaving the battered wooden top bare is perfect support for these old-fashioned decorative items. Tuck a worn white bench underneath to hold vintage fabrics.
Research different painting techniques to create the effect that you want. Here, the cabinet has been painted with a flat black, then whitewashed to great a graying, aged patina. carefully sand a few spots only the edges to other areas where there would be natural wear to expose the black underneath.
If you are lucky enough to run across a pair of matching chairs like these at a flea market, you should snatch them up! Add a coat of white paint to the wood trim, and reupholster the seats and back with a floral fabric.
For a very frugal update, just a beat-up coffee table and a couple of pillows to freshen up your look. Baskets are (literally!) a dime a dozen and add instant shabby charm to a room.
If you are not crafty, there it is easy to find affordable pieces that you can add to your living room.
This rustic console table by Note Card Cafe has the perfect look. Use it as a TV stand, or a desk, or like the console table above, add a few romantic decorative elements and pictures to complete the look.
Slipcovers are a great way to keep the furniture that you have while still updating your look inexpensively. Plus they are perfect for the living room where kids and pets are going to make messes. Just pull the slipcover off, wash and go!
The sofa underneath this off-white slipcover could be army green tweed, or so work full of holes that it could be used a piggy bank for pocket change. But no one has to know, and you don’t have to buy a new sofa, which makes this a win-win!
Matching slipcovers create a cohesive look when the furniture that you have doesn’t necessarily all go together.
A homemade slipcover from pits of chintzy fabric really plays into Shabby Chic. This is incredibly easy to make for an ottoman, but you can always just buy one too!
If you want to buy a slipcover, this one from Patriot is great. It is loose fitting, so it will fit various size sofas, plus the duck cotton is easily washable and very durable. The bright white is a perfect canvas for prettily printed pillows and soft throws.
Another staple of Shabby Chic is the use of vintage fabrics. Old-fashioned fabrics made of natural fibers are most common. Look for linens and kinds of cotton printed with delicate floral patterns, chenille, or even crocheted accents.
Pillows are the perfect place to use your fabric finds. This sofa is covered in pillows that have been covered in different patterned fabrics and prints. This creates an interesting texture for the room.
Keep it simple and redesign a few found pillowcases in pretty prints. Matchless pillowcases are very easy to find in thrift stores and can cost pennies!
This four pack of throw pillow covers are from Emvency are available in a wide variety of patterns. If you don’t sew, this is a great option for you, as they are a very cost-effective way to spruce up the pillows that you already have.
Floral prints are an important design element of Shabby Chic. Tiny, delicate roses in various faded colors really evoke a cottage sensibility and add romantic layers to the look. There are a lot of ways to accomplish this.
A delicate printed wallpaper really sets the tone for the room. Just papering part of the walls keeps it from being too sweet.
Incorporate florals in your decorative accents. Add a few throw pillows, a vase, delicate china, and even live flowers.
There are so many easy and cheap ways to add florals to your room. Add a pretty tablecloth to your coffee table or end table, like this one from Highfly.
For a really inexpensive option, try these pretty floral coasters. They are a really great option if you don’t have a lot to spend, or if you don’t want to have too many flowers.
Soft Floor Coverings
A pretty area rug can really tie the room together and add charm and comfort at the same time.
This rug is a pop of sunshine in this living room. It really is the center of attention, and only a few delicate throw pillows are needed to pull this look together.
Softly modern, the area rug in this room gently adds texture and visual interest to this romantic gray room.
To recreate this beautiful look, this distressed look rug from Unique Loom is very budget friendly.
Pastel Color Palette
The main color palette or Shabby Chic is bright white and pastel colors. This makes sense given the overall theme is soft and romantic.
Use a delicately printed wallpaper on one accent wall paired with a pale paint color that complementary to the wallpaper. The perky blue sofa is the focal point in this super sweet living room. Unusual pieces add personality and quirkiness.
Not sure whether to paint or cover the walls with wallpaper? Make sure you read the post titled: To wallpaper or not to wallpaper before making a decision.
For a more modern approach, use all white as the background color, then add just a few pops of ice cream color for a pretty color combination that is restful and relaxing.
Shades of pink make this living room delightful and oh so pretty! The barely there pink of the wallpaper creates a perfect backdrop for the darker pink rosettes in the furniture.
The devil is in the details, as the saying goes. And it is so true when it comes to decorating in Shabby Chic. keep an open mind when you are scouring thrift stores for ornate picture frames that can be painted, romantic bric-a-brac, and unique baskets or containers for flowers vases.
These frames are beautiful examples of what you can find for almost nothing. Look for beautiful carving and scrollwork as these really look amazing once painted.
Overwrought mirrors and faux crystal candelabra really add to the sense of a romantic past that you want to create in your room.
Check out this room for inspiration on how you can use the most commonplace found objects to enhance your Shabby Chic theme. Old window frames, rusty wire baskets, and even a dislocated door can be decorative elements.
No item is too small when it comes to picking up interesting decorative items. They don’t have to be old, just reminiscent of a romantic past.
To create a cohesive look, paint everything white, then sand the edges gently for an aged patina. Charming and whimsical finds become old again when you use this technique.
It is super easy to find affordable trinkets to buy if you don’t have time to hit any yard sales. An antique look wall clock is a must-have. This whitewashed clock from FirsTime Antiques is beautiful and functional.
A beautiful ornate mirror will open up a small space and will help create the romantic look that you want. This one from Kole is inexpensive and perfect for your living room.
Ornate Recycled Lighting
Beautifully ornate lighting and chandeliers really add that elegant touch that you want in your living room. Take your time choosing just the right piece to complement your overall design.
Keep an open mind about what will work in your Shabby Chic living room. These wooden light fixtures are unique and creative. They are sure to spark conversation when you have guests over.
These repurposed metal chandeliers are charming yet still rustic at the same time. Flea markets are a good place to find reworked old lighting.
This crystal chandelier by Gifts & Decor adds the perfect touch.
For even more glam, check out this chandelier by Waneway. It is covered in glass crystals and will be an amazing focal point of the room.
Soft, Romantic, and Cost Effective
Shabby Chic design is made and meant for those on a budget. Because of its emphasis on an aged patina, recycled and repurposed items can and should be used to create the beautiful room of your dreams.