These shabby chic living rooms show how the rustic vintage look is done

Shabby chic living rooms have had a modern day glow up, and we are big fans of the results...

shabby chic living rooms
(Image credit: Iben and Niels Ahlberg/

Honestly, the words 'shabby chic living rooms' sends a bit of a shiver down our spines. We are picturing 'distressed' furniture (basically a shoddy paint job) a sickly mix of pastels and doilies covering every surface. Buuut it would seem that shabby chic is in fact back, and it's had a bit of a glow up, shedding it's doily skin and becoming a really stylish look that we actually want in on.

Keep reading to see how shabby chic is being done in 2020, and make sure you don't miss our living room ideas page too for loads more inspiration. 

1. Keep things light and airy 

danish siting room with armchair

(Image credit: Iben and Niels Ahlberg/

The old version of shabby chic, was all about a very cluttered look with plenty of colours and patterns all crammed into one space. The new more contemporary version still has plenty of pattern and there's well curated clutter too, it's just more simple and pared back. The big difference is the colours, which are lighter, brighter and more neutral.

Take a tour of this Copenhagen apartment to see more of how it's done. 

2. Mix eccentric pieces with simple furniture 

Living room with open fire

(Image credit: Kasia Fiszer)

Notice how in this living room there is that vibe of shabby chic but the room still feels neat and formal. That's because of the choice of sofa, you can go as vintage as you want in the rest of the room, but if your main piece of furniture is simple, not to fussy and in a plain colour it will ground the space and keep if from being more shabby than chic. 

Have a browse of this Regency townhouse for plenty more ideas. 

3. Or pick classic vintage pieces of furniture

converted coach house

(Image credit: Future / Kasia Fiszer)

If a modern sofa in your shabby chic living room just won't cut it, trying picking out traditional sofas that have a really elegant shape. Something that isn't too bulky and has taller legs to create space underneath, this will add a more sophisticated vibe to your space. Also, don't go overboard on the amount of furniture in the room, you don't want the space to be crowded – let your accessories add the texture and interest. 

Explore the rest of this converted coach house

4. Add a reading nook to your living room 

Lovatt thatched cottage reading corner

(Image credit: Future / Brent Darby)

Nothing says a cute vintage living room quite like a reading nook. 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 floral printed cushions. 

Find more shabby chic ideas in this 17th-century country cottage.

5. Combine old and new furniture 

Victorian cottage slow living scandi

(Image credit: Future)

The easiest way to stop your living room from becoming too cutesy and staying on the good side of shabby chic is to mix old and new furniture. We love how in this living room the lovely old oak dresser brings that vintage vibe, but the contemporary sofa with that slim metal leg popping through keeps the room fresh. 

Take a tour of this Victorian country cottage for more looks to copy. 

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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.