Shabby chic work top

A shabby chic style is one that is charming, cosy, feminine and vintage-inspired without looking overly planned out or considered. It is fine to mix different finishes, eras and styles of furniture as long as they have some kind of loose theme tying them together; for instance colour scheme.

Getting the shabby chic style in your kitchen is probably the most difficult place in your home; especially if you already have work tops and appliances in place that you don’t intend to replace any time soon.

There are ways of adding a hint of shabby chic on a budget or without making too many changes, as well as achieving it throughout your kitchen if you are getting it re-fitted. Here are our tips for a shabby chic kitchen:


Various shades of white are key to the shabby chic style – mix a small amount of bright white with accents of cream, peach, off-white, beige and light pastels. All colours must be soft and neutral hues are key. To add a little more personality you could add hints of vibrant colour – for instance turquoise – to stand out against the neutrals.

Make it cosy

Think warm woods and a vintage leather chair in the corner for a cosy shabby chic kitchen. To get a true shabby chic look you need to avoid anything too stark and modern, and look to vintage styles for inspiration. Aged wooden worktops and units are perfect for this if you are re-fitting them, but if not add rugs to the floor and cushions to the seating area.



Well-worn furnishings are key to the shabby chic look, to give that characterful, weathered effect. If your furniture doesn’t have this already try using fine steel wool to create the effect, then coat with protective sealer before bringing into your kitchen. Be careful not to go over-board however – there’s a difference between shabby chic and just plain shabby!

Quirky additions

You might not be in a position to re-do your whole kitchen in shabby chic style, but think about making a few key changes to bring an element of the unexpected into the room. If your kitchen has hanging lights try adding a selection of vintage light fittings. Collect pretty old pots to put your plants in, and quirky containers to hold any utensils that don’t fit in your drawers. Hunt around flea markets to find old signs and posters to decorate your walls. It is good to look to French interiors for inspiration. Avoid over-kill with a crisp white linen curtain as a backdrop.

Dining area

The dining area of your kitchen is the easiest place to get the shabby chic look. Mismatched, aged chairs around your table add an individual touch. Make them a little more girly and sweet with fabric covers, or mix up your wooden chairs with a few steel ones to add a slightly masculine edge to the room.

You could add a vintage floral runner to your table, and flowers in glass jars to the centre. Low-hanging lights above your table with a 1950s style shade would be ideal.

With a little imagination and effort it is east to get shabby chic style in your kitchen; just remember to avoid ultra minimalist and modern elements, and keep it soft, feminine and gently lived in.

Emily Bradbury

Emily Bradbury is writing for Antiques to Vintage, a portal connecting antique and vintage dealers from around the world.

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