Shabby chic is an interior design style that began in the 1980s thanks to Rachel Ashwell, an author and interior designer. It’s characterized by a soft, cozy feel with antique furniture that adds a sense of opulence and elegance.
To achieve the shabby chic style, you want to think of softness and warmth. Usually, shabby chic starts with white, then branches out to more pastels with occasional pops of deeper colors.
So, what are the best shabby chic paint colors? The best shabby chic paint colors include white, cream, blush pink, mint green, teal, grey, beige, and more. The idea is to stay mainly within the pastel color palette, while branching out for accent pops of vivid colors.
In this article, we’ll explore exactly what shabby chic is, as well as listing the best paint colors to use to turn your home in to a shabby chic dream.
What Is Shabby Chic?
Homes that are decorated in the shabby chic style usually have the feel of an old 18-19th century French cottage. The furniture is old, but has a sense of newness.
Rachel Ashwell pioneered this modern antique look in the 1980s. It rose to popularity thanks to her fashionable slipcovers that could be placed over old furniture from flea markets or antique stores.
These slipcovers were designed to be soft and romantic in style, usually with floral or decorative motif patterns. The base of shabby chic is often white, or an off-white. This gives the designer or homeowner a clean base to start with as they begin to incorporate other colors.
Mainly pastel colors are incorporated throughout the shabby chic interior design. This includes any pale versions of colors, such as blush pink or mint green. You can read more about pastel colors here.
With a predominantly white and soft color palette, it can bring a lot of balance to the décor by incorporating one or two pieces with a deeper or more vivid color. This would include colors such as forest green or teal.
Shabby chic is a style that benefits from distressed furniture. It’s a design that incorporates the old with the new.
A popular project for people looking to DIY their home into a shabby chic design is to take an old piece of furniture and refinish it using two color distressing. You can read more about two color distressing with chalk paint here.
What Is Shabby Chic Furniture?
As we mentioned above, shabby chic furniture is anything that has an old, antique look with soft colors. Many modern furniture designs include sleek, clean lines, whereas older furniture had more intricate designs in the carving of the wood or shaping of the metal.
If you compare a modern mirror to an antique mirror, you can clearly see the difference in design. It’s also apparent when comparing modern dressers to antique dressers.
The list goes on. You can also compare modern and antique versions of bed frames and headboards, lamps, end tables, coffee tables, and more.
Shabby chic incorporates more of that antique look. The intricate, carved designs add a sense of elegance, especially when accented by a metallic color.
When combining those intricate, carved designs with soft pastel colors and floral designs, you get the cozy, vintage vibe of shabby chic with any furniture item you own.
The Best Shabby Chic Paint Colors
If you’re ready to start refinishing some old furniture to make the shabby chic home of your dreams, then get ready to stock up on some chalk paint.
Chalk paint is best to use for shabby chic because it’s easy to sand for two color distressing, which is a popular shabby chic look. You can also use regular interior paint, but for the purposes of this article, all products we recommend below will be chalk paint.
White is the foundation on which shabby chic is built. You typically start with plain white walls, possibly even some white furniture pieces with small colorful accents, then build from there.
You can try Chalky White from Shabby Chic or Crinoline from Country Chic for recommended white paints. Both of these white paints will create a perfect base to start with before you begin adding other colors to your shabby chic home.
Just remember that chalk paints are best used on furniture. While you can also use them on walls if you like, it would work best to use an interior paint such as the white from Prestige Paints.
Cream is another popular color to use for shabby chic home décor. You can either use cream as your base, or use it for some of your furniture items. Cream works well when used with a dark color as the base layer for distressing furniture.
White can be a little too bright and harsh on the eyes for some people, but cream brings a nice warmth and balance.
We recommend using Cheesecake from Country Chic. It has a nice balance of neutral warmth to the cream color. It’s not too close to white, but not so tinted that it appears beige.
3. Blush Pink
Once you’re ready to start incorporating pops of color, blush pink is one of the first ones people reach for.
Blush pink is a popular color in a lot of shabby chic floral imagery. The softness of the pale shade combined with the subtle, warm color of pink creates a dreamy, romantic look.
Typically furniture items are covered in blush pink, but it can also be used as an accent color for distressing or just on fine details.
You can either use Ooh La La from Country Chic or Baby Pink from Shabby Chic. Both of these are great subtle pinks that have the nice soft, pastel tone.
Moving away from the pastels and soft colors, peach is a fun vivid color that looks great with shabby chic.
Peach, coral, and salmon are all in the same color family. Each can vary in look based on the manufacturer, so we’ve included all three in the same section since they are, at times, interchangeable.
This color family is characterized by a vibrant pink color with some orange mixed in, looking much like the color of raw salmon fish filets.
We recommend the color Sunset Glow by Country Chic. It’s the perfect balance of pink and orange with a vibrancy that will blend in amongst your pastel color palette.
5. Soft Yellow
Another common color in the shabby chic world of home décor is a soft yellow.
The spectrum of yellow is a lot wider than many people think. It includes anything from pale and soft yellows, up to bright yellows such as mustard, up into more muted and dark yellows.
For a shabby chic aesthetic, you want to stay more in the soft/pale yellow area. The other yellows stand out too much and break up the cozy feel of shabby chic.
Try using Bee’s Knees by Country Chic. It may look more like a dark cream at first, but it will dry to a beautiful pale yellow perfect for your shabby chic furniture.
6. Mint/Sage Green
There are a few different greens you can incorporate for your shabby chic home décor. Let’s start with the light greens.
Mint green is a light green that has more blue than yellow, and sage green is a light green that has more yellow than blue.
Each of these offer a nice pastel shade of green that works great for shabby chic décor. They’re usually used to paint an entire furniture item that gets accented with another color, such as brown or metallics.
You can try using Sage Advice for your sage green or Happy Hour for a mint green, both from Country Chic. These colors will bring a nice, soft green into your shabby chic décor, which plays well with the floral designs usually found in shabby chic.
7. Forest Green
Moving into the darker greens, a nice evergreen or forest green works well in a shabby chic home too. You wouldn’t want it to be too vibrant. As you get into the brighter forest greens, they take away from the comfy, romantic, pretty shabby chic aesthetic.
The goal is to find a dark green that brings depth and drama with its shade, seeming to blend in perfectly among the pastels.
Think of the way dark leaves are a subtle background against a pale pink rose. They help to highlight the beauty of pastel colors without taking too much attention, but add a lot of depth.
We recommend using Hollow Hill by Country Chic. It’s a nice, gentle dark green that can really strengthen the beauty of your soft pastels.
8. Pale Blue
The blue color family is a rich choice for shabby chic. You can use many areas of the spectrum of blues, but we’ll start with pale blue. Staying in line with the dreamy pastel look of shabby chic, pale blue is another nice addition.
In contrast with the warmth of the floral designs and soft pinks and yellows, pale blue adds a nice balance to the room with a soft cool color accent.
It works great when combined with metallic gold or bronze as accent colors, either in the hardware or on the edges of the furniture piece.
Try the color Nightfall from Country Chic. Many other pale blues tend to look more grey than blue, but Nightfall has a nice richness to the blue while still maintaining its paleness.
If you’re someone who loves a good pop of color and wants to be sure to incorporate some vibrancy among the pastels, then teal is the perfect choice for you.
A teal or turquoise can be the perfect pop of bright color amidst all of the pale pastels you’ve used to achieve shabby chic. Of course, you can also choose more pastel teals like this lovely shade called Happy Hour.
You’ll have to be careful not to go too bright and risk losing the cozy aesthetic if you go for a brighter shade. For example, the color Tropical Cocktail would be a little too light and bright to fit in nicely with shabby chic.
Instead, use the color Whoop-de-do from Country Chic. It’s a little darker than Tropical Cocktail, and when you’re hunting for pops of color to add to your pastels, you want them to be a little on the darker side to avoid being too bright.
10. Deep Blue
Your final option in the blue family is to go for a deeper blue. This doesn’t necessarily mean dark; you wouldn’t want to use navy.
Instead, you want to go for a deep, rich blue that’s a little muted. Muted colors often have a little grey added to them to reduce the vibrancy of the original color.
We recommend using Cottage Blue from Shabby Chic or Tide Pool from Country Chic.
Cottage Blue has a more grey-tinted, subtle look, while Tide Pool offers a little more brightness in the blue while still maintaining a softer profile compared to navy or cerulean.
Lilac and lavender are similar in color. They’re both pale shades of purple, one of them being a little brighter depending on the manufacturer.
Lilac or lavender have a similar effect on shabby chic décor as pale blue. It offers another soft pastel color, but one on the cool color spectrum that serves to balance a lot of the warmth.
We recommend using either Scottish Heather by Shabby Chic or Wisteria by Country Chic. Both are nice, soft, subtle shades of pastel purple.
12. Light Grey
Most of the grey color spectrum works well for shabby chic furniture. Charcoal grey is a little too dark, but many of the other greys work well.
Light grey can serve as a nice neutral to build your whole room around. If you’re someone that isn’t a huge fan of white or cream, then light grey can be the perfect pastel neutral for your shabby chic décor.
There are lots of options for light grey paints, but we recommend Winter Grey by Shabby Chic and Pebble Peach by Country Chic. Both of these are very pale, light greys that stand apart from some of the other medium greys.
13. Medium Grey
If the paleness of light grey is too much for you, you can branch out into the darker shades of medium grey.
These are right in the middle between light grey and charcoal grey. A color like Dark Roast would be too dark and stick out in a room full of pastels.
Instead, try medium greys like Hurricane by Country Chic or Pebble Grey by Shabby Chic. These are both middle-of-the-road greys that blend well with pastels and create a nice, neutral backdrop.
Beige can vary a lot in color depending on the manufacturer. It is a light brown, but how light that brown is differs, as well as the warmth or coolness of the brown.
For shabby chic, you can really use any shade of beige. As long as it stays on the lighter sides of the brown family and doesn’t move into medium or dark browns, you’ll be in the sweet spot.
You can try using a lighter beige such as Road Trip or a darker beige such as Driftwood, both from Country Chic.
Road Trip would work best with other warm colors such as pinks and yellows, while Driftwood is a little more neutral and could work with warm and cool colors.
Finally, an important aspect of shabby chic is the included accents of metallic colors.
Whether you use gold, silver, or bronze, metallic highlights accentuate the elegant and opulent side of the shabby chic aesthetic.
Without metallics, it would be more of a cottage core aesthetic. Cottage core is very similar to shabby chic, but shabby chic carries a more sophisticated and grandiose look.
You can use Antique Champagne, Antique Gold, or Antique Silver from Shabby Chic.
Two Color Distressing With Chalk Paint – Complete Guide