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7 Ways to Create a Shabby Chic Styled Bathroom

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Working as a professional interior designer for many decades, I've been involved in design-and-build residential building projects.

The shabby chic design has become a very popular style, judging by the heightened interest in the old and well-worn look that many homeowners are applying into their home décor theme.

As interior designers and decorators are selling the concept to clients who favour the traditional old-country look that a shabby chic décor is, the popular decorating style didn’t start off as design theme until a few decades ago when the term was first coined and when it became fashionable to join the shabby chic enthusiasts’ bandwagon.

The shabby chic style embraces the look of aged scruffy-looking furniture and furnishings like wood that shows layers of paint, scratched and pitted wood, washed-out prints, white-washed or bleached floors, and pastel tones, all typical features of the famed ‘distressed’ shabby look.

A shabby chic bathroom theme showing furniture - vanity unit and vintage

A shabby chic bathroom theme showing furniture - vanity unit and vintage

How to Create a Shabby Chic Bathroom Decor

If you want to upgrade your bathroom on a shoestring budget without compromising on quality and style, or if you desire a timelessly chic look that gives a warm relaxed feel, then you need to take the shabby chic style into your bathroom.

Bathroom designs themed after the shabby chic style are one of the easiest design concepts to achieve because its design attributes are simple to put together. So, what do you need to create a shabby chic bathroom décor?

Wood elements – There is no shabby chic decor that is complete without wooden elements. The wooden elements (furniture) like vanity units, cabinets, shelves, and general storage items must be wood that has been distressed to make it look old and worn. Paint all wood trims and crown mouldings white because white is the main base colour of shabby chic themes.

Floor finish - Whitewashed and pickled floors are typical of the shabby theme. If you desire a bleached effect for the bathroom floor finish, consider using pine and whitewashing it after installation. However, you will also find faux bleached wood and ceramic floor tiles that will give a bleached effect, on the market. Pickling is a method that is best used on oak wood and involves applying a white stain that will brighten the wood surface while still exposing its grain pattern. Ceramic floor tiles must be neutral shades if faux bleached floor tiles are not preferred. Remember that words such as faded and bleached remain common terms often applied to the shabby chic bathroom style.

Fabrics – You will require some textile materials in the bathroom like the window blinds, curtains, or shades. The colour scheme must be pale while their prints and patterns must be vintage-inspired, preferably florals, just like chintz fabrics. Shabby chic décor always calls for a soft and feminine feel which can be achieved with the type of fabrics and textures chosen.

Palettes - Pale palettes are characteristically shabby chic colours, so the bathroom colour scheme must be in soft and pale tones. Pastel colours come to mind here. Paint the bathroom walls with a matte finish for an authentic country-style look. The walls must not be shiny or glossy, but rather, they must look dull and worn. Good combinations are white and off-white, white and pale yellows, and white and cream. Another popular combination is vintage yellow or pale gold and a sand hue finish which creates a soft warm feel that is typical of the shabby chic look.

Wallpaper and wallcoverings – The best and easiest way to integrate the shabby chic theme into your bathroom is to finish the walls with shabby chic wallpaper and wallcoverings. It is not only easy to apply wallcovering to complement the décor, but it is also an inexpensive way to give your bathroom a fresh new country-style look. You can be as bold or as neutral as you like and can paper the entire walls or a single wall to complement the other three walls in the room. Most shabby chic wallpapers come in neutral colours with elegant, Georgian, lace-style patterns. Wallpaper with subtle features or trailing patterns will give the shabby chic bathroom a stylishly modern twist.

Bathroom furniture - You can use old or discarded wood furniture and upcycle them. You can also utilize old home décor objects, and other reusable interiors materials, including antique and vintage furniture. If you have none of these, you can buy cheap furniture items from the stores, then ‘distress’ and paint them. The essence of the shabby chic style is basically decorating with and displaying furniture that is old and worn as in 'passed down' antique or vintage items. You can use some of your old furniture, with their original old paint or stain, if they possess distinct signs of age.

Tip: You can imitate the worn look by painting the furniture and allowing it to dry thoroughly. After it is dry, hand-sanding it by gently rubbing the top coat of paint with sandpaper to show a bit of the wood and patches of the base coats.

Furnishings – The furnishings you choose must complement and enhance the new bathroom makeover. Choose linen and cotton fabrics if you can, instead of synthetic or man-made textiles. Use white linens inspired by the old-French and ensure it looks vintage, worn, or lightly bleached. To add a modern twist to your theme, add pastel pinks, blue, or green colours, preferably tiny floral prints on a fresh white or off-white background. Hues and tones can be introduced in the towels, curtains, glass jars, candles, floor mat, and other accessories.

Typically shabby chic style - The look and feel of this old and worn-looking bathroom is characteristic of the distressed look of shabby decor.

Typically shabby chic style - The look and feel of this old and worn-looking bathroom is characteristic of the distressed look of shabby decor.

Bathroom Accessories to Complement the Shabby Style

Your bathroom makeover demands that you must accessorize it and it is equally simple to do this. You probably have some décor items or other objects around the house but just in case you do not, the list below will open your imagination. Find some of these fixtures and decorations and use them to enhance your bathroom décor . . . to add the ‘chic’ to the ‘shabby’.

  • Oval or round shaped antique gilt mirrors or rectangular silver-framed mirrors
  • Classic style wall sconce light(s)
  • Shallow shelves
  • Roll-top bath (if you plan a total makeover)
  • Lace, chintz, or voile curtains
  • Set of Oka baskets to store towels, toiletries, and other bathroom things
  • Wooden robes rack or wall-mounted vintage hooks
  • Ornate toilet roll holder
  • Cottage-style towel rail
  • Shabby chic cupboard
  • Classic style lacey shower curtains
  • Shabby chic framed artworks
  • Ornate antique style table-top clock
  • White towels are good with shabby chic themes but soft creamy colours like shades of champagne are great too

Good design practices allow for a mix of the traditional with the modern, so, bathroom sinks, faucets (wall mounted taps keep lines clean), bathtubs, WC, and shower enclosure can remain contemporary or modern.

Shabby Chic décor ranges from the stylishly traditional to the modern and understated. The style will fit in any room of the home, from the foyer and kitchen to the bedroom and bathroom and has become a lifestyle and worldwide design movement.

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For further information, graphic illustrations, and beautiful photographs, this book titled - The World of Shabby Chic, is lavishly comprehensive and well detailed. If you are a designer, a decorator, or somebody interested in home designs, styles, and themes, you will draw much inspiration from this book.

Pastels have a unique way of making fabrics look old and antique. You can also tea- stain pale or white fabrics to produce an authentic old look in your bathroom.

Pastels have a unique way of making fabrics look old and antique. You can also tea- stain pale or white fabrics to produce an authentic old look in your bathroom.

© 2011 viryabo


viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on January 14, 2012:

You are welcome E. Shabby chic is a wonderful theme and its affordability makes it more attractive to many.

Thanks for visiting.

enchantedmirror on July 11, 2011:

oh wow, that first image is gorgeous! i love how the distressed look on the frame of the mirror and its color matches the drawer. thanks for all the practical tips you included in the article.

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on March 27, 2011:

You're welcome toknowinfo

toknowinfo on March 27, 2011:

Great article. Thanks for sharing so many of your ideas.

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on March 24, 2011:

Thank you Rebecca,


Rebecca E. from Canada on March 24, 2011:

awesome ideas-- as always, and found it when I needed it. many thanks.

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on March 03, 2011:

I know how you feel What's News. Not many go for the shabby & chic. It is unique though.

Thanks for visiting and for your nice comments.


viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on March 03, 2011:

Hello Denise, its always so good to see you.

I've been unable to log easily to the internet in the past few days, its been a trip. Hence my late reply to your usual kind comments.

Your dream sounds just like mine, except i forgot to put in the jacuzzi and you forgot to include the soft music!

Thank you so much for your visit.


PS: I couldn't finish the challenge, 20 in 30. But i'll start all over again in April. :)

What's News on March 01, 2011:

I have seen many bathrooms decorated in this style. While it's not my style I still enjoy the look of it.

viryabo (author) from Lagos, Nigeria. on February 28, 2011:

*Hello Becky,

Just signed in and saw your very nice comments. So good to see you.


So glad you enjoyed the article. what i like about shabby chic is the fact that the old worn pieces don't look bad after all and have a chance of being relevant (style wise), again.



Thank you, and thanks for visiting.



You are welcome. Thanks.

How's it going?


*Hello CW, so nice to see you here. Thanks for your kind comments and for the visit. So good to see you.


Denise Handlon from North Carolina on February 28, 2011:

I just love a well designed bathroom, period! It is my dream to have a 'perfect' bathroom with space; a double shower; AND a jacuzzi tub; room to have plants, a window, a skylight...oh, better not let me have my dream, you'd never get me out of there! LOL

cwarden from USA on February 27, 2011:

Great look. Thanks for all of this information!

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on February 27, 2011:

Loved this Hub - great ideas and so easy - thanks.

Shelly Epperly from Vancouver,WA on February 27, 2011:

great that look.

Becky from Oklahoma on February 27, 2011:

I'm a big fan of shabby Chic. Excellent information about how to achieve this time honored style.Great video too; I think the stained glass rose medallion in the bedroom window is lovely and the cherub shelf with the pot of roses in the bathroom looks adorable too. Thanks for an awesome hub.

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