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Home Decor Styles Explained -The Shabby Chic Edit

26 Sep, 2023

A One Woman Movement

‘Shabby Chic’ may seem like a juxtaposition only because it truly is! First coined in the 1980s when designer Rachel Ashwell opened her home furnishings store named Shabby Chic, this aesthetic was heavily inspired by trademarks of the regency and subsequent Victorian era, bearing features like ornate metal frames, lace trims, floral motifs and theatrical curves.




Top ( Image Via Good Reads ): 90s Home Decor Guide by Rachel Ashwel. Bottom ( Image Via Pinterest) 80s Cult Movie Pretty In Pink featuring a Shabby Chic Bedroom

In her own words, Ashwell had defined the inspiration behind her store, “like living in a cottage full of flea market finds’ but also ‘with a hint of twinkly glamor’. It can be said that her outlook on Shabby Chic has come to define the mainstream understanding of this aesthetic. This odd mix of high and low end had never been offered before the 1980s, making this look all the more refreshing and sought after.





    Left Top ( Image Via Pinterest) : Furniture painted over with chalk paint. Right Top ( Image Via Pinterest): Sofa featuring an ornate metallic frame

Shabby Chic – Decades Later

The ‘undone’ appeal of chalk paint coupled with aged white linens, asymmetric ruffles and feminine florals that sum up Shabby Chic are the perfect invitation to transport yourself to another time and cozy up at home away from worldly mayhem. These are the secret ingredients responsible for revival of Shabby Chic in the times of a global pandemic. However, our modern love for upcycling home decor, using natural fabrics and clean cut minimalism has also given leeway for Shabby Chic to be reimagined and redefined entirely.



Left Top ( Image Via Pinterest): Today’s Shabby Chic embraces natural elements like plants and bare wood. Top Right ( Image Via Pinterest): 1930s Botanical Illustrations serve as decor inspiration for modern Shabby Chic

  • Rococo French Vs Gustavian

Today, Shabby Chic has branched out into four different sub genres, namely Rococo French, Gustavian, Cottage Core and Beach Style Shabby Chic. While there may be some similarities between the former two, Rococo and French Baroque are characterized by elaborate ornamentation, jewel tone accents and often – depiction of love in the form of paintings of human figures. On the other hand, Gustavian style takes inspiration from the Neoclassical French art movement and gives it a white washed and painted over appearance to honor simplicity and lightness associated with the Swedish.




Left Top and Right ( Image Via Pinterest): French Rococo style Shabby Chic which is heavy on ornamentation and opulence. Bottom ( Image Via Pinterest): Gustavian Shabby Chic style which is simpler and more minimal in comparison

  • Beach Style Vs Cottage Core

Beach Style is perhaps the look most devoid of the Victorian characteristics which were first associated with Shabby Chic in the 1980s, instead displaying simple monochromatic pastels and borrowing from the ‘painted over’ worn out look of the Gustavian style. This style may sometimes also incorporate nautical elements like pinstripes and anchor prints which pay homage to ’Nautical Nostalgia’ of the 40s and 50s. By comparison, Cottage Core is more detailed and also the most popular take on Shabby Chic in recent times. It has the same thrifted appeal of original shabby chic but with an Amish touch that mimics the simple and natural lifestyle of the country side rather than the regal and ornate look of traditional Victorian Shabby Chic style. Perhaps, that is why the color palette of Cottage Core features hues like ‘Duck Egg Blue’ and ‘Sweet Peach’ – a nod to farm living. Cottage Core Shabby Chic style also provides room for addition of natural materials like bamboo and jute into the mix, which not only represent the eco-conscious values of millennials and GenZ but are also inline with the traditional Amish principles of embracing nature.



Left Top ( Image Via Pinterest): Beach Style Shabby Chic . Right Top: Cottage Core Shabby Chic 

Shabby Chic By V Living

Evidently, Shabby Chic does not claim to follow any rules as it is a melting pot of various artistic and lifestyle influences, with only a few characteristics being the main identifiers, namely ‘rustic charm’ and ‘refurbished look’.

At V Living, we have redefined the style with unexpected quirks and elements which add character to the products. Bright pops of red and blue act as contrasting backgrounds to delicate rose floral print, adapted to cushion covers, oven mitts, kitchen aprons and table runners, giving the home a kitschy uplift.



Tea Coaster from V Living’s Shabby Chic collection ( bottom right) brings back the nostalgia of yesteryear’s late afternoons which were often spent over tea at leisure

Another subsection of kitchen essentials from V Living bear monochromatic floral prints which take on a close botanical appearance, nodding to popularization of Shabby Chic which featured botanical illustrations of the 1930s.



V Living Kitchen apron featuring Poinsettia Flower Print and pinstripe trim for a Shabby Chic Flair

To a large extent, the essence of Shabby Chic is to allow anyone the ability to recreate a vintage style that’s completely personalized and unique. At V Living, we are reinforcing this belief by offering Shabby Chic inspired artwork in a spectrum of designs, which can be transferred to stationery items like cards and scrapbooks to home decor essentials like table covers and cushions.



Ephemera and Floral prints make their way to V Living artworks paying tribute to all things considered rare by modern standards, such as collectable stamps, monograms and hand written text.

Shabby Chic has effortlessly established itself as a timeless aesthetic choice, always open to interpretation as the decades turn. Much of our recent history can be lived vicariously through this look and most of our home decor inspiration can be subconsciously influenced by this movement without our knowledge, unless we take a closer look and read the artistic signs to realize our deep rooted desire for comfort and nesting.