50+ Shabby Chic Kitchen Ideas
Shabby chic kitchens are now one of the most sought-after kitchen styles, in the modern world; especially in country properties. However it is not by any means a new look since it originally evolved in the mid-twentieth century, when it became a popular method of creating an acceptable and charming way of decorating as money was tight after the second world war.
The essential element that conjures up the shabby chic look is a timeless elegance where furniture does not have to match, just so long as all your pieces have an inviting, slightly worn look, and are closely related in colour or tone. True shabby chic in your kitchen should reflect the grace and beauty of a bygone era, when life was simpler and altogether more natural.
Shabby chic kitchen styles are characterised by a rural style comfort coupled with old world whimsy. The décor, which is normally based around white, off-white or very pale unobtrusive colours such as soft greens, pale blues, pale yellows or muted beiges, should look effortless and completely uncontrived.
Before setting about creating this well-loved style take a good look round your kitchen and consider the existing style in terms of wall colours, cabinets, appliances, work surfaces and even cookware. Also take note of the size and layout of the room to determine if there is enough floor space to accommodate additional pieces or the necessary wall space for additional cabinets or shelves. If not, begin thinking about how you could change the current look to achieve a more rustic feel. Newly painted walls and certain paint effects on furniture, along with the right accent pieces will help change the whole look your kitchen.
In the main most kitchen walls are best painted in plain or lightly toned white to maximise the amount of light, however for something a little more unusual you could also try painting your walls in a pattern of wide pastel and white stripes. If however you prefer wallpaper, to make your kitchen appear more homely, it is best to choose a muted floral pattern, especially roses or tiny bunches of daisies or forget-me-nots.
Do bear in mind though that endearing as old fashioned wallpaper can look it should not even be considered if your kitchen doesn’t have proper ventilation to stop it getting overly steamed-up when cooking; otherwise you will soon be re-papering!
Concrete, grotesquely tiled or tacky linoleum floors are a complete anathema to the shabby chic kitchen style so they will need to be replaced with something more in keeping with your new soft and natural look. This of course can be a major and expensive undertaking, so if you don’t want to completely replace your kitchen floor you can simply add lots kitchen mats or rugs in muted pink, blue, green, or floral designs; just be sure to choose colors that complement your walls and existing flooring.
Plain wooden floorboards can be given a new lease of life by being sanded and varnished to prevent splinters in bare feet! They can also be stained in a ‘natural’ wood colour but be careful that you don’t go too dark and make you kitchen feel grim and gloomy. Very pale wood may be stenciled in an interesting design before varnishing, but do ensure that the design ties in with your existing colour scheme. A clever floor design could be used to emphasise a special feature such as an old couch, a favourite rocking horse or a freestanding butcher’s block.
Kitchen furniture and cabinets can be decorated in a number of exciting paint finishes, which is then distressed in varying degrees depending on just how truly ‘shabby’ you want your kitchen to look. If you are not sure how to go about the distressing process simply dial up ‘How To Paint Shabby Chic Furniture’ on the internet and you will find plenty of information and even videos on Youtube.com that cover the subject in depth.
To avoid an overly modern look you should always replace any current hardware on kitchen cabinets and door furniture with something more appropriate, such as glass or vintage ceramic knobs; which will indeed look so much more authentic. You can often find just what you need on eBay or you could try scouting round some of the more reputable building reclamation yards. Sometimes it is worth buying old cabinets or doors just to lay claim to stunning or unique door and cupboard accessories.
If your current kitchen appliances don’t look remotely right in your new kitchen, you can have them repainted to match everything else, as fortunately companies do exist that will repaint appliances. Alternatively, if you want to replace the appliances altogether, there are also companies that sell retro style appliances.
Don’t forget to give your kitchen a light and airy window treatment. Curtains, rather than blinds, are an excellent way to emphasise the shabby chic look especially dainty floral prints, held in place with antique tie-backs. For a cleaner, unfussy look you could also use cotton nets slung over pine poles or even pure lace, draped across just half the window.
Be aware that one of the joys of shabby chic style is that it utilises less than perfect pieces, so do check out jumble sales, garage sales and even skips for discarded items. Someone else’s rubbish may just be the perfect display piece for your shabby chic kitchen. A tart-up with a pretty paint finish or some floral material can give new life to many a neglected treasure.
The right accessories will simply ‘make’ your shabby chic kitchen so these should be chosen and placed very carefully to give the right effect. This stage of achieving the shabby chic look is rather like planting a country garden, in as much as it should all look entirely natural and as if it has just happened by chance.
However as any skilled gardener will tell you it takes quite a bit of forethought and planning to create just the right uncontrived look. Exactly the same will apply to your kitchen but, being careful not to over-clutter working space or surfaces, you can easily develop the shabby chic feel simply by applying a little imagination, time and effort and the best of all it won’t cost you a fortune.
Some really great additions to your kitchen can include distressed corner shelves for old battered recipe books, Victorian chamber pots for plants, early spice racks, embroidered hand-towels and homespun linen on wrought iron hooks, well-worn oven gloves, 1950’s tin canister sets and cookie cutters, granny’s wash board, sepia framed photos, Imperial kitchen scales, a rose patterned china tea service, vintage wooden boxes and serving bowls, old baking trays, copper pans, fish kettles and of course lots and lots of fresh flowers.
Finally do remember that the true shabby chic look is only achieved by being understated, so you don’t need to have every single item in your kitchen distressed, miss-matched or floral. Sometimes less is definitely more and it is also vital that your own personality comes into play to make your dream kitchen particularly special and unique to you.
Karole Howard is passionate about interiors, fabrics and colours inspired by the countryside. She launched her well known online shop http://www.countrycream.co.uk in 2003 in order to help people who want to create the country look in their homes.
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