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Shabby Chic - A little history for you!

Shabby chic has become one of the most popular movements in the world of interior design in recent years, which of course brings a smile to my face. You can incorporate shabby chic into every room of your home, creating unique and stunning interiors that are sure to grab the attention of all who see them, so it's little surprise that it's becoming increasingly popular. You may be surprised to find out, however, just how old the shabby chic concept is, so here's a fascinating little history on this design concept.

Early French Influences

Shabby chic as we know it today is a triumph of British interior design brilliance, but like all the best design concepts it's not afraid to be influenced by designs from other countries and even other centuries. The word 'chic' sounds French, and shabby chic's first appearance came from across the English Channel. The 19th century was a turbulent one for France, as anyone who has watched Les Miserables will know, but it also witnessed an incredible artistic flourishing and that was perfectly demonstrated by shabby chic design. French interior designers took inspiration for their modern furniture and décor from earlier grand chateaus, making this incredibly stylish look available to more people than ever before. This grand elegance is still at the heart of shabby chic today.

A British Stamp

The United Kingdom has become famous world over for its cultural achievements, from books to music and art, and that applies to the world of furniture making and interior design too. British designers in the 1980s wanted to take this heritage, epitomized by the grand furniture of the Victorian era as well as earlier masters such as Thomas Chippendale, and bring it right up to date. They did this by taking old country-style furniture that had seen better days and adding exciting colours, upcycling by mixing mediums and fabrics and creating contrasts that thrilled the senses. In doing so they created the shabby chic explosion and it soon spread from the trendy shops and homes of London around the world.

Taking Over America

Americans have long loved British style and design, and within a decade of its UK appearance in the eighties it had made its way successfully to the United States. It had an even older heritage in America, however, thanks to the legendary designer Sister Parish. It was Sister Parish who Jacqueline Kennedy hired to spritz up the White House after JFK became President in 1961, and she quickly became renowned for her passion for 'American country style', or what we would know as shabby chic. At the time. this was popular among the wealthy in American society, but it took the British revival in the 1980s to restore its popularity first in ever-stylish California, and then spreading eastwards across the whole country, making it accessible to all.

From French designers in a time of revolution through Kennedy's White House to the trendiest locations in London, San Francisco, and then the world, shabby chic is now more popular than it’s ever been. Adding a touch of Bohemian glamour or country-style elegance to your rooms can transform them from the mundane to the sublime, so it seems to me that the history of shabby chic is only just beginning.

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