How to Create a Shabby Chic Kitchen


To capitalize on a kitchen that already has some wear and tear or to create something completely different from a polished modern kitchen, opt for a shabby chic-style kitchen. Using materials with evidence of wear -- real or induced -- as well as incorporating one-of-a-kind vintage embellishments and keeping to a pale palette are the primary guidelines for achieving a shabby look. To achieve a piecemeal yet subtly glamorous cottage flair, use imperfect or mismatched true vintage and antique-look items in your kitchen makeover.

White and Weathered

  • Ideally, shabby chic-style kitchens have whitewashed or weathered wood walls. If you find yourself the proprietor of a kitchen wallpapered in a faded floral pattern -- keep it as-is. Light-colored tiles, bead-board or brick painted in a light pastel are also suitable. Hang repurposed white metal cabinets, or paint dark wood cabinets white, and go over the areas that with normal use would receive the most wear with sandpaper. Replace door and drawer pulls with vintage porcelain or tarnished metal finds. Remove cabinet doors and leave them open or add glass fronts; then paint the viewable wall area a light color or line it with muted floral contact paper. For tighter spaces, install salvaged wooden shelving or white wire racks with glass shelving in lieu of cabinetry.

Mismatched and Distressed

  • Feel free to mismatch your kitchen's benches, stools, tables and chairs with various pieces of painted wood and wicker and wrought iron. The furniture must show some distress and character: Employ a scraper if the finish is too new. White appliances are preferable in the shabby chic kitchen, and salvaged vintage finds can even be painted pastel hues. Keep any old countertops such as laminate and butcher's block intact or install light-colored tile. Rustic architectural additions are welcome, such as tin ceilings or a range hood barn board cover.

Dainty and Decorative

  • The shabby chic-style mentality does not sequester the good china between meals. Display your favorite dainty teacups and saucers, elegant serving platters and embellished soup tureens on shelves and counters. Grace your tabletop with an old crackled mixing bowl filled with white zinnia or heavy lilac boughs. Group antique apothecary bottles in very light shades of robin's-egg blue and mint along an old windowsill above a sink. Hang unpolished copper pans and kettles as well as light-enameled colanders with chips from architectural hooks or ornate pot racks. Mount decorative painted metal tray tops in the "no man's land" above your range top.

Faded Floral Fabrics

  • Faded florals are key in establishing your shabby chic style. Table linens that were once brought out only for Sunday dinner are key in completing your kitchen's transformation. Use vintage card table toppers in fruit and floral motifs for small bistro tables and larger barkcloth tablecloths on your farmer's table. Window treatments such as lacy antique valances add an airy touch of elegance. You can also make curtains from repurposed cabbage rose sheets, using faded pastel handkerchiefs as tiebacks. Cover seat cushions in linen, silk or chintz, as long as the colors are subdued. A simple floral napkin lining a white bowl filled with peaches or fresh eggs adds just a finishing touch of color.

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