11 Shabby Chic Decorating Tips to Help Bring Out the Beautiful in Your Distressed Furniture

So you have shopped and shopped, and finally picked out the perfect distressed furniture pieces for your home.  Perhaps you are redecorating a living room to display an old-world design, or preparing for the new baby by putting together the most gorgeous shabby chic nursery anywhere around.

After all, all it takes is getting that perfect piece of elegantly distressed furniture delivered to your door, carried into the correct room and viola! you have a room ready to be pinned and repinned on Pinterest boards all over the world, right?

Well, unfortunately it isn’t quite that simple.  Furniture can be a staple and a centerpiece of a room, but furniture alone cannot, in and of itself, make the room.  Furniture is the starting point of your design.  It is the initial idea from which the inspiration for the rest of the room will spring.

The Devil is in the Details

As with most things in life the devil is in the details, and a room that is truly ‘cozy and worn’ is a room that has been meticulously crafted with small details and accents.

I certainly have learned over the years,that learning how to accent a room in the right way takes time, thought and sometimes just developing a eye for it.  I have helped many people pick out pieces that would properly illuminate their furniture or their design vision for a particular room, and I thought it might be helpful to put together this short guide to help those of you who may be struggling for ideas to fill out your room with the right details to accent the distressed furniture pieces in the room you are working on.

If you love shabby chic distressed furniture design (and I’m guessing your do) then I have no doubt you are in love with Pinterest.  Pinterest is just one of those amazingly inspirational places that can help you bring your vision into reality.  Since most of you are likely on Pinterest, and familiar with the kinds of decor and furniture you will see on there,  I thought I would go on there and pick out some images that will help us get the creative juices flowing and help you turn your home or room into the space you always dreamed of.

So, here are a few tips that will help you learn to use small details to create a beautiful result

1. Spare Bedroom

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I just love this room.  It’s so simple, but the details are monumental.  Just imagine this room with only the wardrobe.  It would be terribly empty, but with a few simple touches it becomes a dreamy room.  This is just perfect for a spare bedroom.  The small distressed step ladder with water basin is such a great choice.  The hanging blouse beside a distressed white chair with towels and washcloths just make you feel like a guest in a Victorian mansion.  Soft comfy colors, with a small mirror, fresh flowers and candle complete this room perfectly.  You could even choose to bring out a particular color by adding a rustic rug.

2.  A Lonely Chair

Shabby Chic Distressed Chair


What would you do if you had just purchased this chair?  It is quote gorgeous and would be an amazing piece in any distressed furniture room.   To me, alone it looks lovely, but in a room I would think it needed something to accent it a bit.  Remember the first image we looked at of the spare bedroom?  That was another distressed white chair that would have looked fine sitting there alone, but the addition of the towels and washcloths made it come to life.

You could do something similar with a chair like this, but if this will be a piece in a family room or living area you could never go wrong with using a pillow or blanket to bring out some of the colors here, and give it just the perfect touch of coziness.

3.  Creative Candle Sconces

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Take a look at this distressed candle sconces made from old wooden shutters.  This is a perfect example of creativity that can add a level of uniqueness to your room.  This is the kind of thing that anyone could make at right at home and would accent any distressed furniture piece in just about any room you can think of.  Cozy with a touch of class.

4.  Glass Knobs

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Glass or crystal knobs are one of those things I have always been in love with.  I seem to notice them whenever I see them.  I remember at this bed and breakfast in Savannah they had the most beautiful glass knobs on all the doors and the furniture.  It was lovely.  For distressed furniture or shabby chic styles, the simple cottage elegance of glass knobs is one of the most gorgeous accents you can make.  If you want your room to feel like it’s from a coastal cottage in the 1800’s, just replacing the hardware on a dresser or chest with glass knobs will have a major impact.

5.  Mason Jars

distressed mason jars

Adding colored Mason jars are a cheap and simple way to add a real touch of country cottage appeal to any room.  They are easy to paint and distress yourself.  Pick colors that will compliment the colors in the room and add some dried (or even better live) flowers for an amazing effect.


6. Painted Wooden Frames

11 Shabby Chic Distressed Furniture Design Ideas

Another quick, cheap and easy way to add a real boost to your room’s decor.  Check flea markets and thrift stores for old frames, or you may have something laying around in a storage building that will work.  If you find something with a goofy picture, just remove it and use the frame.  Easy to paint and distress on your own, and best of all you can choose your own colors.  You can add your own prints to these, or they also look great on the walls empty (like in the photo) if you want to do something a little different.

7.  Vintage Signs

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When it comes to bringing out a distressed or shabby chic furniture project in your home, very few things will add a more perfect touch than distressed signs.  Hand made signs were such a huge part of life in the years before modernization.  They could help advertise anything from a lemonade stand to a grocery store.  They work so well because people who love distressed furniture typically love it because it takes them back t0 a time in history that is long past, and these kinds of signs do it wonderfully.  They are very easy to find today, anywhere from Hobby Lobby to even Wal Mart, and many other home interior retailers.  If you want a more custom solution, you can learn to make them yourself and add any slogan you want it to say.  See the tutorial here

8.  A Heavenly Bedroom


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Can you just imagine the possibilities with a gorgeous bed like this one.  It doesn’t even have a mattress or comforter, yet the simple elegance in this bed is just irresistible.  Of course this is a bed in a shop, but just think of what you could do here.  Lace is just a heavenly touch with this bed.  You could do lace curtains or just use it as a simple accent like in the picture.  The sewing mannequins will send your room sailing back to the Victorian era.

With a bed like this look for quilts and throw pillows to accent the decorative design of the bed.  Add a simple lamp and nightstand, with a mason jar and dried flowers and you will have the makings of one gorgeous shabby chic room.  Also notice the distressed frames like we discussed in number 6 above.  See how even a frame with no print works great?  Flower print wallpapers would be a tremendous touch here as well.

 9.  Makeshift Baby Changing Table

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Let’s say you just bought a distressed chest for the baby’s nursery?  Why not turn it into a makeshift baby changing table, and still use it as a chest too?  Great double use and a beautifully unique idea, and will save space.  Add a comfy changing pad, a cute lamp and basket with a stuffed animal and rolled up washcloths.  Competely adorable!  Add a distressed wooden sign, and some vintage baby images and watch your nursery come to life.  What a gorgeous old world touch for baby!

10. Flowers are Still Elegant

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Yes, I know it’s cliche.  Yes I know everyone uses flowers, but there are still very few things in the natural world that can adorn a room with special elegance like flowers.  I know you knew that, but make sure you let the colors of the room pick the flowers.  Red roses just would not do in this room.  The soft pink roses accent the walls and bring this chest to glorious life.  Add a simple family picture with a vintage frame beside them and you will have a touch of elegance that few things on earth can give.

11.  Blankets Are Your Best Friend

Shabby Chic Cabinet with Blankets

If you have a cabinet like this you are in luck.  Find some quilts and blankets with the right flowery patterns and just see how much beauty they add.  If you don’t have such an exquisite cabinet don’t worry.  Blankets are a powerful accent touch that anyone can employ.  We all have blankets, and no doubt most of us could find some cute ones to use in our decorating.

The truth is, blankets and quilts just give a touch of comfort and a taste of home like few other things.  Do not be afraid to use them in your decorating.  Of course they work great in bedrooms, but try folding up some thick, cute blankets in a basket to add a little something to your living room too.  There are a thousand things you can do with blankets.  Get an old ladder and hang a few from it in your living room. Just get creative and try them in various places.  You’ll be amazed how great they will look.

And don’t just use them for looks.  Let them be blankets for use also.  Family and sleepover guests will thank you for not only the decorative beauty, but also for the added touch of warmth.

Angie Newsom is the co-founder of Cozy and Worn, the co-author of Cozy and Worn: The Complete How-To Guide to Painting and Distressing Furniture and is our resident decor and room design expert.