Is shabby chic making a comeback? We investigate how to bring this new trend into your home...

Shabby chic has a bit of a bad rep in the world of interiors but is it sneaking back in for 2021?

cottage style shabby chic living room with woodburning stove
(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

When we think of shabby chic, we envision 'distressed' furniture, tiny floral prints and signs that say things like 'Live, Laugh, Love' *shiver*. But, we have noticed quite a few trends coming through in 2020 that seem very... familiar. There's less cliche signage and there are no doilies on every surface and on a whole, these new trends are less shabby and more chic, but there is an essence of that style there.

So is shabby chic back? We think it might be... and we are actually kind of okay with it. So we have rounded up some ways you can make shabby chic work in your home, plus what NOT to do when testing out this tricky trend.

For more tips on living room ideas check out our full gallery. 

What exactly is shabby chic?

As we said, shabby chic has not always been in favor in the interiors world. Mostly because people just took the concept too far and it ended up being a very twee, mix of vintage and country style with a bit of kitsch thrown in. 

It's all about creating an aged look in your home, a rustic country vibe that's all very wholesome and charming. It's basically cottagecore without the Tumblr following. And that's why we think shabby chic might be making a comeback – we are all loving  the cottagecore and grandmillienial trends, and are they just shabby chic with a cooler name and better marketing team?

tea time kitchen cottage spurling

(Image credit: jody stewart)

How can you shabby chic interiors right?

Think less is more. Skip the floral prints, the super sweet pastels and overly distressed furniture and just incorporate the worn wood and natural textures that also come with the shabby chic aesthetic. We have come up with five ideas that will explain...

1. Stick with subtle pastels and a muted color palette 

dutch farmhouse country kitchen floor tiles

(Image credit: Ton Bouwer/

You'll notice a theme here, this new way of doing shabby chic is all about the neutrals, you can experiment with color,  just make sure it's quite muted and natural. This teal blue is perfect, and we love how it's in lots of different elements of the room – the cabinet, the splashback tiles and the floor. You could paint furniture in your kitchen as a starting point for your new colour scheme and can even tile a splashback with new tiles yourself, just check out our guide.

2.  Create your own shabby chic reading nook

Lovatt thatched cottage reading corner

(Image credit: Future / Brent Darby)

Old books are another thing we saw a lot of in our cottagecore research and is suitably shabby chic too, the more weathered the better. And this little reading nook fits the aesthetic perfectly, the delicate window, lavender cushions and of course a yellowing book. If you aren't blessed with a window seat you could create the look by popping an old armchair (check out eBay for some gems) under a window and styling with a throw and some pastel cushions. 

For more reading nook ideas check out our feature. 

3. Create displays throughout your home 

wooden antiques on a shelving unit

(Image credit: Future/Brent Darby)

Clutter is no bad thing when it comes to shabby chic interiors, in fact the more stuff on show the better. No of course we aren't talking just any old stuff, clutter still has to be curated and each piece has to fit with the vibe. Have a rummage through charity shops and junk shops to find quirky, one off pieces that could sit on open shelves – anything chintz is good, vintage glass and patterned china will work too.

If you need more shelving ideas to get you inspired we have a whole feature for you to peruse. 

4. Keep your bedroom soft and neutral 

Victorian cottage slow living scandi bedroom

(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to creating a bedroom with shabby chic aesthetic, the softer the better. Layer up lots of slubby textures too and keep everything looking very lived in. You can get some of that 'clutter' we talked about in on the bedside table in the form of a bud vase with a sprig of lavender, again some nice books and a candle to add to that soft glow. Seeee it doesn't all have to be about pale pinks and baby blues!

For more bedroom ideas head to our feature. 

5. Distress your furniture – the right amount

distressed green painted cupboard at back door of Jacobean manor house with flowers, baskets and wellington boots

(Image credit: Kasia Fiszer)

Distressed furniture does have it's place shabby chic interiors, you just have to distress it the right amount. Don't go overboard, you want  to go for a worn look rather than just like you got lazy with the painting. And only stick to areas of your furniture that would actually natural get worn – eg. the corners, the legs, around handles. 

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Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer before moving to the Livingetc team in 2021 where she took on a role as Digital Editor. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration. When she isn't writing about interiors, she is renovating her own spaces – be it wallpapering a hallway, painting kitchen cupboards or converting a van.