Is It Chic or Just Shabby?

Is It Chic or Just Shabby?

Getting vintage right.

I like vintage and antique designs, but I also love simplicity. I send quite a bit of time learning about different painting and furniture restoration techniques because the furniture I love is often too much of a stretch on my pocketbook. I also scour secondhand stores for furniture that could be turned into something amazing with a bit of time and little money. It seems a lot of people have the same idea, because I have seen some horrible restoration jobs out there.

Shabby chic isn't as popular as it was a few years ago, but I still like some of the designs. This style is slightly romantic and very old fashioned in look. One of the cornerstones of the design is weathered, slightly beat up furnishings. Some people take this too far, though. I've seen otherwise attractive furniture that has been so roughed up it looks like someone took a power grinder to it. Horribly clashing paint and overly bold colors are another common mistake.


My trick for shabby chic painting is simple, but it works. I paint the furniture first with a darker color. I like light browns, turquoise or sage greens here. You can go a bit bold with this color since only a bit will show when you are done. Once the paint dries, I rub beeswax on the corners and edges. You don't want to go overboard, but cover all the areas where normal wear and tear occurs on furniture.


After applying the beeswax, it's time to plaint on the final color. Nothing too garish, please! Typically shades of white or cream are used for this final coat. Let it dry, then sand lightly on all the areas where you applied beeswax. The top coat of paint easily flakes away and reveals the color beneath, giving it the shabby look.