Design Chick  

Pretty chic, not too shabby

Don’t let the word “shabby” fool you: the look may be unstructured and lacking in formal rules, but this timeless esthetic can add an effortless elegance to your home.

With salvaged furniture, vintage textiles, and unique handicrafts available in flea markets and retail shops, you don’t have to search high and low for the perfect piece. You might even have a diamond in the rough right under your nose; a down-and-out piece of furniture just waiting to be repainted and restored.

That’s the beauty of shabby chic style; it’s budget-friendly and easy to acquire.

Airy Textiles

White, sumptuous bedding adds a light, restful atmosphere to the bedroom decor: look for white-on-white patterns or details accentuated by intricate needlework like pin tucks. A couple of randomly displayed cushions in light, floral fabrics can add a dash of colour if needed.

Consider having an old, yet still comfy, sofa or chair reupholstered in a relaxed linen or cotton twill... shabby chic style isn't about matching all of your prints. The more variety you create in softer shades, the more harmonious and interesting your spaces will feel.

Wear It Out

Straight lines and man-made materials don't really have a place in shabby chic dining rooms. Reclaimed lumber can be stripped and made into a fantastic table, or an existing piece can be whitewashed for that signature worn look.

Place your table on a faded or antique rug and if you have mismatched chairs, unify them with simple slipcovers or a slick coat of fresh paint.


Believe it or not, beanbag chairs are part of that laid-back, shabby chic vibe. Rachel Ashwell, who trademarked the term “shabby chic” back in the ‘80s, features a few beanbag chairs in her Shabby Chic Couture line each year.

Find a variety of grown up versions from big retailers like Pottery Barn or Pier 1 - most have been updated in sumptuous fabrics and patterns, making these fun chairs the perfect place to curl up with a good book in a bedroom, den, or down in a family room.

Frame It

Ornate frames and framed mirrors can be refinished to display treasured art on the walls. Create a grouping over a sofa or find one lovely specimen that can help with finishing off the fireplace; some of these frames are in disguise at flea markets and antique stores.

You may find them painted in various shades of metallic or stained dark ebony, but give them a light sanding and a coat of white or pastel paint in pale green or silvery blue and they’ll be ready for their spotlight on the wall.


Old dressers needn’t be confined to the spare bedroom. They can also be used in an entrance hall, home office, or dining room as elegant storage options. A sanding, a few of coats of paint and another sanding will give a piece that well-loved look.

For that final touch to add extra colour and charm, look for dainty, vintage knobs in mercury glass, crystal, mirror, or hand painted ceramic.

Lighten Up

Whether you opt for a modern reproduction, or uncover a vintage gem, stunning chandeliers are a great way to add a little quirky elegance to a space. Hang one over a feature table or as the staple fixture over your living room furniture arrangement for added sparkle and airiness.

And if your pre-loved find is missing an integral piece, take a spin on eBay to find the replacement glass or beads you need.


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About the Author

Crispin Butterfield is the creative force and mastermind behind Urban Theory; a graduate of Mount Royal University in Calgary, her engaging personality and design-commerce savvy make her a valued and well-respected professional and mentor within her field.

She’s able to uniquely see the parameters and vision of each project in ways her clients often cannot, and has honed the process and proficiency required to grow incredible long-standing client relationships. 

Crispin embraces a life full of ingenuity and imagination, fueled by raw ambition and a desire to leave her mark on the world. Her impeccable design style, expertise, and a rock-solid business acumen is the foundation which allows Urban Theory Interior Design to provide full scale services with authenticity, innovation, and ample amounts of personality.

Featured in Style At Home Magazine, Covet, Canadian Retailer, and The National Post – www.urbantheoryinteriordesign.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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