The rise of shabby chic furniture

Of all the interior decoration trends of recent years, shabby chic has been one of the most enduring.


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The home decorating shows of the 1990s sparked an interest in reusing or recycling old furniture, and the trend has grown to the point where you don’t even have to do the work yourself as you can now buy shabby chic style tables, chairs, beds, drawers, wardrobes and more from most of the high street retailers.

Reducing waste

Today, many people turn to recycling furniture as they become more environmentally aware. Charities like the Recycle Now initiative and local authorities actively encourage people to pass on unwanted furniture and buy second-hand furniture instead. Not only can it save you money, but recycling furniture and buying second-hand also helps reduce waste. Old furniture can have much more character and seem more “authentic” than mass-produced furniture.

If you’re happy putting in a little effort, doing it yourself is much more satisfying, and you can create a bespoke piece for your house that is perfectly suited to your taste. Architectural salvage yards are a really good place to start as they are repositories for every kind of furniture, from chairs and tables to fireplace surrounds and cast iron baths.

If you don’t have any previous experience with renovation, start with something uncomplicated and inexpensive. This probably isn’t the time to tackle re-enamelling old cast iron baths or painting a kitchen dresser. Picture frames, small stools or even old wooden trays are the perfect first project as they aren’t expensive to buy and it’s easy to remedy any mistakes. Once you’ve mastered the techniques, you can move on to something larger.

Stock up on supplies

Buying the right equipment is vital, so do your research to find out what you’ll need. If you’re buying from a salvage yard, you might find that the staff can offer you some tips. There are plenty of specialist paints and varnishes available online, in DIY stores and on the high street.

As with any decorating, preparation is vital. Although it might seem time-consuming, it really is worth sanding down and painting on undercoats and topcoats and filling any holes; this will create a longer-lasting finish.

Always keep in mind, however, that the charm of shabby chic is that it isn’t perfect.