Shabby chic kitchens are a wonderful combination of rustic edginess and understated glamour. This style of kitchen decor has its roots in country kitchen style but emphasis is on the practical rather than the pretty. It differs from classic country kitchens by featuring modern industrial – as well as rustic – influences that can bring a real sense of eclectic style to the very heart of your home.
Whites and neutrals are favourite decorating colour palettes in the shabby-chic kitchen. Use them on ceilings, walls and floor too (if you dare) and they will create a bright and vibrant stage for essential fixtures and fittings in your cooking area. Many shabby-chic kitchens will extend white tones on to cabinetry, appliances, lighting and storage for a cool and ultra-chic feel.
But shabby chic kitchens don’t have to be white. Shades of gentle grey or green have a classic feel that will bring a naturally warmer atmosphere to a shabby chic scheme and work particularly well on kitchen cabinetry.
Essential ingredients in a shabby chic kitchen include worn, well-loved furniture in distressed finishes, low-slung metal pendant shades or glamorous sparkling chandeliers. Scrubbed farmhouse-style tables, open shelving and white painted French-style furniture with scrolling carved wood details are also ideal for playful layering.
Group or make a feature of different styles to set apart distinct spaces for different kitchen tasks. For instance, highlight food prep surfaces, rustic butcher’s blocks and utility sinks with practical pendant lighting; the dining area can showcase a scrubbed rustic table, refectory-style benches and smart upholstered chairs; a breakfasting space can be set apart with modern bar stools and glorious hi-gloss marble surfaces. Yes, it’s eclectic, but that laid-back mix-and-match style is the aim here.
Shabby chic style isn’t restricted to cosy country kitchens, as this light, bright contemporary kitchen extension shows. All the hallmarks are here, from the limewashed wooden floors and mismatched vintage chairs to the open shelving and industrial lighting (these are on a grand scale to match the space). The result is a rough-luxe finish that feels airy and welcoming.
Is it a country kitchen? Is it an industrial kitchen? With elements of both at the same time, we’re going to say it’s actually shabby chic – those distressed pressed-tin tiles on the wall above painted Shaker units certainly seem to point that way! Antique and vintage accessories and furniture – mostly made from dulled metal – are placed throughout the space, tying the disparate elements together. A solid wood breakfast bar brings in some natural warmth and colour.
Free-standing kitchen furniture is a great way to achieve the shabby chic look. This glass-fronted painted cabinet both stores and showcases an eclectic collections of plates, ceramics and serveware. Rough wooden accents and wood panelling bring a more casual tone to the space.
Warm solid wood worktops bring a cosy feel to an all-white kitchen that’s packed with tactile surfaces, from metro tiles to panelled units, industrial metal to painted floorboards. Taking the look from modern country to shabby chic are a series of colourful and well-placed accents, including vintage bar stools, pale blue pendant shades and a jumbled array of artwork hung on the wall. Fresh and fun.
A smart modern country kitchen, with built-in wooden worktops, benefits from pieces of furniture and kitchen accessories in contrasting materials. Here vintage bar stools, made from distressed metal and well-worn leather, bring a relaxed element to this structured space, while brushed metal pendant shades add a glam touch. Retro cookware and storage jars complete the shabby chic line-up.
Similar bar stools
Alexander & Pearl
Similar kitchen cabinetry
This all-white scheme is the ultimate shabby-chic look; it has a scrubbed-wood beach house type feel that is fresh rather than fussy. A well-worn wooden table adds a rustic edge that is matched by the timber worktops, while pendant shades are hung low enough over dining table and work surfaces to function as task lighting. An open roof-space and stripped floors – all painted white to match the walls – bring a fresh liveliness to the kitchen.
Check out this eclectic kitchen for a completely different take on shabby chic design. Rather than cool or pastel tones, choose to paint vintage cabinets in a patchwork of bold pink and blue shades. A background of midnight blue tiles and a dark wooden floor adds depth to ground the colourful surfaces. Decorative accents break up the block colours, and add interest to this playful kitchen space, where shabby chic meets the souk!
Graham & Green
Metro tiles, rough-hewn open shelving, reclaimed vintage cabinets, scrubbed wooden table and brushed metal fittings – this kitchen is shabby chic from floor to ceiling. Everything has its place, from the kilner storage jars to the foldable dining table, bringing order to an array of design styles and kitchen essentials.
Look for second-hand pieces that can channel the shabby-chic look single handedly. In this traditional country-style kitchen the addition of an antique oversized butcher’s block and stools – all sporting distressed white paintwork – suggests shabby chic in an instant. A white metal pendant cements the look and it’s cleverly placed to highlight the star feature too.
A contemporary take on shabby chic kitchen style, this moody space blends slick industrial metal kitchen units with a very traditional range cooker. A dining table, bench and moulded chairs, all with a mid-century modern style, add warm tones to set off the brushed metal while a woven rug adds a rustic touch when laid upon a polished floor. Scandi meets shabby chic – and it’s love at first sight!
Scandinavian Design Centre
In a small kitchen, where space is limited, quirky stand-alone storage becomes a real focal point. Set the tone with exposed brickwork wallpaper, and maximise space with multifunctional pieces like this worktop/ breakfast bar/ storage unit. Vintage high-topped stools tuck in neatly around this, making a strong shabby chic style statement which is enhanced with retro and industrial touches.
If you’re not a big fan of painted furniture, just hone the look down to one piece. Timber finishes draw the disparate elements of this modern kitchen dining area together; the painted table sits at the centre of the space, contrasting with the unfinished and varnished timbers of the mantelpiece, storage and chairs. Mix and match antique upholstered chairs with designer versions for a freer interpretation of shabby chic.
For a modern take on the vintage-style kitchen, choose rustic tongue-and-groove cupboards topped with a stripped wood worktop and an under-mounted sink. Open shelving in bright white functions as storage and a place to display bright retro kitchen accessories. In this space a distress metal-style splashback adds a hint of the industrial.
Traditionally we think of shabby chic kitchens being pale country cabinetry boosted with industrial accents, but this space turns that idea on its head. A high-gloss kitchen offers a gleaming black backdrop for rough-hewn flooring, a heavy painted wood country dining table and mismatched vintage school and church chairs. It gives the usually girly style a more grown-up feel, that looks amazing in an urban home.
Swap white paintwork for the palest of green and discover a richer, less stark version of the shabby chic look. In this kitchen, country essentials such as a twin butler sink and plate racks – which house a selection of pick-and-mix plates and French-style ceramics – create a welcoming scheme whose warmth is reflected by the choice of curtains (rather than blinds) and a richly mottled marble work surface.
The stainless steel appliances are in place, you have a rustic exposed brick wall, country-style cabinetry and open shelving… it looks great, but something is missing. Your own personality! Use walls and shelves to bring a bit of extra character to this family space. Whether it’s spelling out your initials, framed art prints or random objects you’ve picked up at a flea market, these are what make a shabby chic kitchen feel like its actually your cooking space.
Simple touches can change the whole feel of a kitchen. In this beautiful multifunctional space, all it takes to add glamour and a chic French vibe is a crisp white tablecloth. Combine with smart stripped-wood cross-back chairs, glass candelabras and gleaming ice buckets to suggest shabby chic style without committing to a full-scale kitchen makeover.
While original terracotta floor tiles might not be synonymous with shabby-chic style, this kitchen still manages to pull off the look with aplomb. By whitewashing brickwork, fitting glossy metro tiles and hanging a rise-and-fall pendant and ornate mirror around a central painted table and upholstered chairs, the styling manages to embrace the flooring as part of the look.
Traditionally the most relaxed area of a kitchen, a breakfast bar can make a strong focal point for shabby chic style. Here, bar stools are swapped for high seating with a French-style painted and upholstered finish. The gleaming marble and ice-white finish is set off by an offbeat aged bronze chandelier overhead, which ticks the ‘shabby’ box perfectly!
Achieve a pared-back shabby-chic feel in your kitchen by painting tongue-and-groove doors to match stripped and painted wooden floorboards. Unpainted furniture, including a pew-style bench, introduces a rustic touch, while hi-gloss black worktops add the glamour element. The simplicity of traditional Shaker-style units makes a nice contrast.
The Kitchen & Bathroom Studio
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