Shabby Chic is best known as a style of interior design where furniture is chosen specifically for their apperance of age. These highly desired signs of wear and tear can be recreated on new furniture using a technique known as 'distressing'. Distressing has become a very popular design style over the years. Generally, the end result is a one-of-a-kind rustic or vintage look.

In the age of sleek lines, high gloss and flat pack furniture, shabby chic furniture still has huge prominence in interior design.

Shabby chic is all about unique one off pieces that really add something to the design of your customer’s space. Certainly it might not have perfect paintwork or matching draw handles, but shabby chic furniture achieves a cozy and rustic look that just can’t be achieved by Allen keying 5 bits of white plywood together.

Before we begin we should probably answer the most obvious question: what is shabby chic? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, shabby chic is defined as “A style of interior decoration that uses furniture and soft furnishings that are, or appear to be, pleasingly old and slightly worn”.

The key to this being “appear to be”. Instead of buying old antique furniture, which might come with a high price tag, you can make the furniture ‘appear to be’ pleasingly old for a lower cost and exactly as you wish!

So how can you create these one-of-a-kind shabby chic pieces? The joys of shabby chic furniture are that it is meant to look worn and well loved, so you can’t really go far wrong! By following the steps below you can soon turn an outdated hand me down chest of draws into a rustic farmhouse style dresser fit for even the Queens boudoir.

Our Top Choice - Rio Verde Vintage Prestige (Shabby Chic) Paint

Renner Rio Verde Vintage Prestige

Rio Verde Vintage Prestige (Shabby Chic) Paint leaves a beautiful, ultra Matt effect. The paint is water-based and low VOC, making it an odourless, premium quality, eco-friendly choice. This authentic Italian style is perfect for creating a distressed Shabby Chic look. Completely transform your furniture! Dries to a flat, powdery finish that will not chalk off. More durable than conventional chalk paint. Ideal for painting both interior & exterior surfaces. It is not necessary to apply primer. Create an alluring, contrasting colour texture and style by combining two colours from our irresistible assortment of Vintage Prestige colours. The creative possibilities are truly endless! 

Beautifully Protect & Enhance Your Shabby Chic Designs with Rio Verde Decorative Wood Oil

Renner Rio Verde Wood Oil

Availailable in a stunning Clear, Pigmented and Iridescent finish. Bring a touch of Italian style to your furniture. Perfect for both Vintage or new furniture. The perfect topcoat to apply over Rio Verde Vintage Prestige Paint. Specially designed to work in conjunction with eachother. Premium quality guaranteed every time.

You will need:

  1. Check your brief and do your research – Ensure you know exactly what finish you are after and how rustic or weathered you would like it.
  2. Sanding – Sand and denib the surface to get yourself a great base to build from. Remember though that the purpose is to create a worn and distressed look, unlike most work you don’t need to worry so much about making it look perfect!
  3. Get the right colour – Traditionally shabby chic furniture does not go beyond the realm of creams, beiges and off whites. However, this is your piece so pick your favorite colour and roll with it. For an extra distressed look, try choosing two colours that complement each other. 
  4. Grab your paintbrush – This is the fun part! Apply a few coats of Rio Verde Vintage Prestige. If you’ve just chosen one colour, apply 2 coats. If you’ve chosen 2 colours, apply one coat of each. Top Tip: try applying a coat of wax to some areas between coats with a soft buffing brush for an extra rustic look! Remember: we will be distressing the piece later so both colours will be visible.
  5. Distressing – Once both layers are completely dry you can begin distressing! This can be done in a number of ways; adding furniture wax to some areas, sanding away paint layers to reveal a different colour underneath, creating dents and grooves in the wood with a putty knife, changing up the handles. The possibilities are endless! If it works – do it! You really can’t go wrong.
  6. Finish – Finally seal your work with 1-2 topcoats of Rio Verde Decorative Oil. Coat each layer at 1-2 hour intervals to seal and protect the paint. After that, you’re done! All that’s left to do is find a place for your stunning new (old!) piece!

Once you’ve mastered the process, there is no limit to the piece you can create! When you’re in control of colour choices, you can create the perfect antique looking piece that is certain to match your interior design.