Shabby chic kitchen ideas that are packed with character

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.

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.

1/20 Create character in a contemporary extension with a rough-luxe kitchen

white kitchen area with dining table and hanging lghts

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lisa Cohen)

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.

Lights

Circus Antiques (opens in new tab)

Table
Pigeon Vintage Furniture (opens in new tab)Little Paris (opens in new tab)

2/20 Give a barn kitchen a contemporary lived-in finish 

kitchen area with dining table and chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

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.

Similar tiles
Rockett St George (opens in new tab)
Similar island unit
Harvey Jones (opens in new tab)

3/20 Choose free-standing furniture for a rough and ready space

white room with cupboard and cutlery

(Image credit: Future PLC/Michael Sinclair)

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.

Similar cabinet
An Angel At My Table (opens in new tab)
Chair
The New Craftsmen (opens in new tab)

4/20 Boost a white kitchen with colourful shabby chic accessories

white kitchen with wooden worktop and hanging lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/Holly Jolliffe)

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.

Pendant lights

John Lewis (opens in new tab)
Similar kitchen
Ikea (opens in new tab)

5/20 Mix up vintage and industrial finishes in a modern kitchen

white kitchen with worktop and bar stools

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

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 (opens in new tab)
Similar kitchen cabinetry
Magnet (opens in new tab)

6/20 Mismatch whitewashed timber for a cohesive shabby chic look

white kitchen with cupboard and wooden table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Paul Massey)

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.

Table
Mobius Living (opens in new tab)
Lighting
Original BTC (opens in new tab)

7/20 Try a colourful take on shabby chic kitchen style

colourful kitchen with pink drawers and dining table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Robert Sanderson)

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!

Similar chairs

Graham & Green (opens in new tab)
Similar light
Moroccan Bazaar (opens in new tab)

8/20 Vintage look kitchen with open shelving

kitchen area with wall shelves and cookpot

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jo Bridges)

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.

Similar table
Laura Ashley (opens in new tab)
Similar tiles
Topps Tiles (opens in new tab)

9/20 Place ditressed vintage furniture at the heart of the scheme

white kitchen with table and drawers

(Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby)

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.

Kitchen cabinetry
Plain English (opens in new tab)
Pendant light
Kingdom Furnishings (opens in new tab)

10/20 Create a Scandinavian-style kitchen breakfast room

kitchen area with metal units and dining table

(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

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!

Kitchen units

Ikea (opens in new tab)
Dining table
Twentytwentyone (opens in new tab)
Rug
Scandinavian Design Centre (opens in new tab)

11/20 Create atmosphere in a small kitchen with shabby chic style

kitchen with brickwork wallpaper and wooden stools

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

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.

Wallpaper

Arthouse (opens in new tab)
Stools
Steel Magnolias (opens in new tab)

12/20 Mismatch wooden furniture for a warmer take

dining room with table and cabinets

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

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.

Similar chairs

Habitat (opens in new tab)

13/20 Opt for open shelving for a shabby chic vibe 

kitchen wall shelves and toaster

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jon Day)

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.

Similar shelves
B&Q (opens in new tab)

14/20 Reverse the tables with this glossy rough-luxe kitchen

kitchen area with black cabinet and dining table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Matt Cant)

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.

Similar units

Homebase (opens in new tab)

15/20 Pick pastel paint for a soothing kitchen space

kitchen area with cabinets and worktop

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

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.

Sink
Ridgeons (opens in new tab)
Curtain fabric
Ivo Prints (opens in new tab)

16/20 Personalise your kitchen space with arty objects

kitchen area with brick wall and worktop

(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

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. 

Cabinets

Plain English (opens in new tab)
Glassware
Ikea (opens in new tab)

17/20 Use dining accessories to zone a shabby chic kitchen

kitchen area with dining table and candle stand

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Parmiter)

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.

Wall tiles
Topps Tiles (opens in new tab)
Similar dining chairs
Oka (opens in new tab)

18/20 Be bold by mixing textures and styles 

white kitchen area with cookpot and dining table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Derek Robinson)

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.

Similar table
Neptune (opens in new tab)
Dining chairs
La Maison Chic (opens in new tab)

19/20 Blend French country with chateau chic kitchen style

white dining room with table and flower vase

(Image credit: Future PLC/Richard Gadsby)

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!

Bar stools
Charlie Kingham (opens in new tab)

20/20 Mix matt and gloss finishes for shabby-chic surfaces

kitchen area with worktop and white drawers

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

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.

Kitchen units
The Kitchen & Bathroom Studio (opens in new tab)

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