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10 Elements of the Shabby Look

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Distressed Paint for Shabby Elegance
(c) Glenna Morton
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• 1: Shabby Elegance
• 2: 10 Elements of Shabby Elegance

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Must-haves for vintage style

White furniture
Painting furniture white changes its personality. Once dark and heavy pieces magically turn light, fresh, and summery, and a roomful of mismatched items is transformed to instant harmony.

hide wear and tear, out of date fabrics, and mismatched colors. White is the color of choice, but faded prints will work just as well. And if they get soiled, just pop them into the washer and back onto your furniture.

Tea Stained Fabrics
bring the illusion of age. The key criteria is that a fabric look old, worn, faded, and soft. The background can be ivory, creamy white, or a variety of muted pastels.

Overstuffed Upholstery
including large "sink-in" chairs and sofas are a Shabby Chic ® staple. Comfortable, slipcovered, rumpled, ruffled, and rounded, with chairs almost big enough for two. They are welcoming and inviting and look right at home.

Distressed Paint

Architectural Details
Seek out everything from glass doorknobs, iron corner brackets, concrete column bases, old mantles, and more. They will bring authenticity, style, and interesting detail to a space.

Imperfect Accessories
If it was once elegant, it can now be Shabby Chic ® even if it is flawed, damaged, or painted. It just has to look old. Large ornate candlesticks painted white with bits of the old iron finish showing through, a chipped floral teapot pressed into service as a vase, scrolly sconces, worn mirrors in detailed frames, golden cherub lamps are all candidates for the look.

Rumpled Elegance
Leave your ironing board in the closet when decorating in the Shabby Chic ® style. Upholstery should look sat-in, well used, and definitely not pressed. Note that it is not "messy", just comfortably "used" and "lived-in".

Metal furniture, headboards, and decorative iron accessories are another successful addition to a Shabby Chic ® interior. Peeling paint, rusted sections, and vintage looks are all the better.

Flowers and Candles
Fresh flowers are a natural for a Shabby Chic ® room. Big handfuls of pink roses plopped into a china vase, floral fabrics and needlework pillows, books on flowers and gardening. Candles bring a romantic mood and interesting lighting.

Pattern Mixing
Bring a "gathered" look by combining a variety of patterns, checks, florals, and stripes. For easiest mixing keep the background color the same (white or ivory, etc.) and repeat at least one color in every pattern used (all with a touch of rosy pink or pale green for example.)

 ~ Glenna Morton
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