Shabby chic puts vintage furniture in the spotlight. Our guide will show you how you can create the shabby look on your furniture yourself. We deliver creative upcycling ideas and give tips on furnishing styles.
From new to old: what is shabby chic?
The term shabby chic comes from English and describes a furnishing style in which pieces of furniture or decorative objects shine in a vintage look with chipped areas or scratches in the paint.
Thanks to its friendly, bright appearance, Shabby Chic is not “shabby”, but very cozy. With pastel colors and deliberately staged signs of use, you breathe new life into heirlooms and flea market finds. We give tips on upcycling.
Make shabby chic yourself
Old and new pieces of furniture can be upgraded with the shabby look and individually designed. This is how you can save old furniture from bulky waste and get creative at home. Because you create the shabby chic yourself. For the upcycling you need light colors and sandpaper.
Old pieces of furniture made of real wood are particularly suitable for this style. To transform them into shabby chic furniture, paint them in pastel tones and then sand them down in places to get the rustic, romantic look. The furnishings are reminiscent of dignified country house seats from the 18th or 19th century.
Which color can be used for shabby chic furniture?
Chalk paint is ideal for the shabby chic style. This is available in pastel tones such as pink, mint green and light blue as well as in gray and white and gives the piece of furniture a matt, dusty vintage look.
What else do you need
After you have selected the right color for your shabby-look furniture, you will need the following materials:
- masking material
- protective clothing
- Abrasives (sanding block or sanding machine with sandpaper)
- Cloth for cleaning the furniture
- Brush and paint roller
- furniture wax
- Remove old paint and sand furniture
First, prepare the work environment by protecting both the floor and surrounding furniture from paint splatters and sanding dust with foil or another covering material. If available, you then unscrew the fittings from the piece of furniture that you want to remodel. If the knobs or hinges do not come off, cover them with painter’s tape.
To remove old paint and prepare the surface for a new coat of paint, sand down the entire piece of furniture. Because the chalk paint will later adhere better to the roughened surface. You work on small areas and ornaments by hand with a sanding block and sandpaper, for large areas we recommend a sanding machine. Protect yourself from wood splinters and sanding dust with gloves and a respirator.
After you have sanded the piece of furniture, clean off the sanding dust with a damp cloth and let the piece of furniture dry thoroughly before you start painting.
- Prime and paint
Before you give the piece of furniture a new coat of paint with chalk paint, we recommend that you apply a primer first. This will improve the opacity of the paint.
Then it’s time to paint. A brush is suitable for smaller areas as well as for gaps and artistic ornaments; for larger areas, the application of paint with a paint roller is more even. If you’re applying multiple coats of paint, let the furniture dry thoroughly after each use.
Tip: To make the result smoother, use the brush in one direction only and make sure to distribute the color as evenly as possible. Wipe off any excess paint from the brush to prevent streaks on the surface. If the paint has run somewhere, you can sand off the top layer of paint in places after it has dried in order to paint the area again.
Note: Protect yourself even when painting with suitable protective clothing including a respirator. You can provide extra ventilation by working with the window open or painting the furniture outside.
- Sanding – for shabby chic
After painting with chalk paint, the shabby chic furniture finally gets its characteristic appearance as soon as it is dry. To do this, you sand off individual spots.
Tip: For a natural result, we recommend applying the sandpaper where there are signs of wear and tear after years of use.
Use fine-grain sandpaper and slowly feel your way. Start at the corners and edges and work your way up from there. Loop in the direction of the wood grain and keep looking at your furniture from a distance to see where you want to touch up.
- Growing wood – the finish
When you are happy with the result, you finally seal the wood with wax. This way the chalk paint won’t rub off and you can clean your wooden furniture with a damp cloth.
To do this, apply a thin layer of furniture wax with a cloth and work it into the wood along the grain. Then you let the wax dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions and then polish the waxed surface with a dry cloth.
More tips for shabby chic
Your vintage furniture in shabby style will look even more authentic if you use old knobs, handles and fittings. You can often find special rarities at the flea market, but you can also find vintage furniture handles in your local hardware store. With metallic and contrasting colors you can add further accents. For example, you can emphasize the “worn” areas at the corners.
In addition to sanding, there are also special effect lacquers to artificially create signs of use. You apply effect paint like top coat. After drying, the varnish will burst and let the chalk paint shimmer through effectively.
You can find some examples of what your personal shabby chic furniture could look like here: