The shabby chic look is worn yet soft and opulent with a cottage-like charm and the odd splash of grandeur – think relaxing, quirky and a bit rough around the edges. To create the look with your bedding, think fabrics inspired of yesteryear: gently worn edges, soft cottons and linens, old French linens, vintage floral patterns (preferably faded) with pastel colors, cotton ticking patterns, touches of lace, patchwork quilts made of these fabrics, linen in pure whites or ecrus, and worn or bleached out pastel colors. Sometimes fabrics are a little stained (with age, not red wine…), bleached or faded which adds to the look, and patterns are often mixed.
On this page I share some of my favourite shabby chic bedding looks and I hope these will inspire you to create your own unique look:
Starting off with one of the more traditional shabby chic looks, this lovely bed set in pretty country pastels is combined with a faded pastel linen throw to finish the effect. Note the bedding is slightly messy, as is very typical of shabby-chic designed bedrooms.
This gorgeous french-inspired fabric (right) has a vintage printed look to it and would make a beautiful bedset or cushions. However, this fabric is too ‘new’ to really be shabby chic and you need to fade it to achieve the right look. You can do this using bleach, but I recommend you try this with a small sample of fabric first to see what results you get and adjust the amount of time you leave it in the bleach accordingly. Pick a nice sunny day and put out a plastic tablecloth on a flat surface in the direct sunlight. Wearing gloves, mix up enough bleach and water to be able to submerge your fabric – you need one part bleach to ten parts hot water. Submerge the fabric for fifteen minutes and then rinse it thoroughly with cold water. Wring it out, stretch it nice and flat on your plastic tablecloth and leave it to dry flat in the sun. When you’re happy with the results, put the fabric through a machine wash to get rid of any remaining chemical smell. NB: I found the above under ‘script fabric’ on eBay which is a useful search to find some really nice designs.
These beautiful vintage-style tapestry cushions (left) would make beautiful scatter cushions in the shabby chic bedroom. Buy them ready made from eBay or Etsy, or make your own using one of the hundreds of tapestry kits or needlepoint cushion kits available. The cost is about £25 – £30 a kit – don’t be shy about mixing up different designs as mixed prints and patterns is all part of the shabby chic look. Although you’ll probably want to use these as scatter cushions on your bed, be sure to keep any embroidery fabrics away from materials containing acid such as the wood/finish on shelves and window seats, or cardboard boxes. Whilst bleaching and fading is all part of the shabby chic look, yellowing on needlepoint and embroidery is unattractive and can just make the item look dirty.
This lovely combination (right) of white bedding with a little floral edging, floral cushions and a plain grey pastel throw gives an overall french look to this shabby chic bedroom. The look is very simple, uncluttered and sophisticated, showing that shabby chic bedding isn’t always about the cottage prints that most people associate with the term. Aside from the bedding, I love the floorboards in this room which have been stripped back and then lime washed in a very soft grey to complement the colour scheme in the room. True lime wash, although it looks lovely and brings brightness to any dingy room, is unfortunately temporary and unsuitable for most floors because each time you mop it, it gets rid of some of the caustic, chalky lime. The waxes or oils that you use to seal lime washed furniture are no good either, as they would make the floor too slippy. The solution to achieving this effect is to use lime wash stain or pickling stain and sealer. Pickling stain doesn’t contain lime, but it adds the semi-transparent, whitewashed or pickled look that is exactly the look you want to achieve. If you have good boards and want to try this out, make sure you strip them back really well, as any old sealer on the floor prevents the color from absorbing into the wood.
This beautiful shabby chic bedroom combo really demonstrates how a mix of fabrics and indeed textures is perfectly acceptable and works really well. A quilted throwover in a pretty cottage floral print is combined with a sequined rococo-style cushion in black and white and other fabric prints in vastly different colours – you wouldn’t think for a moment this would work but it does, and really well. I think the neutral walls in this room help to keep the look uncluttered – with patterned wallpaper, the effect would be too busy.
It is often pretty florals and tiny prints that are associated with shabby chic bedding but this beautiful look makes use of stripes (left) in bold candy colours as a contrast to the pretty faded vintage floral bedding and again I think this works really well. Aside from this slightly different use of stripes, ticking stripes are a popular choice for shabby chic bedding and again, eBay is a great place to pick up the fabric fairly cheaply – you can find soft faded dyed yarn in perfect shabby chic colours for a very reasonable price. Again, if your striped fabric is a little new looking, you can use bleach to fade it (see above) but make sure you always test the effect with a small piece of fabric first as bleach can completely ruin fabric if you use too much and/or leave it on too long.
I love this look (right) because it shows the layered and slightly messy nature of shabby chic bedding. On this beautiful sleigh bed, you can find plain linens, tapestry, soft vintage floral prints, ruffles, tassels and more besides. The huge stack of pillows and cushions is so inviting, you can imagine sinking into them after a long hard day at the office – perhaps with a glass of vin blanc or two…
This pretty bedding perhaps doesn’t tick all the shabby chic boxes but I’ve included it anyway because I loved the patchwork, embroidery and ribbons that made up this lovely bedset. It has the faded look but for a true shabby chic look, I think it would need to be slightly less coordinated, perhaps including some different cushions or prints to give the look a little ‘disorganisation’.
We tend to think of vintage prints and pastels when it comes to shabby chic bedding but sometimes pure white works just fine too. This beautiful bedroom (left) makes use of a ruffled white bedset and loads of white sheer fabric arranged rather messily around the windows for a relaxed effect.
The bedding used in this stunning room (right) is quite plain but what I noticed was the lovely ruffled valances around the bottom of each bed in pastel purple. Set off against the plain bedding and curtains, I think these actually a huge difference to the look of this room (imagine it without them).
Perhaps not traditionally shabby chic because of the dark, opulent colours, I wanted to include this bedroom because I think it offers an interesting modern slant on the more typical faded pastel shabby chic look. The aged mirror, glass chandelier, ornate candlesticks and period-style wallpaper are all regular choices of course. The bedding still makes use of mixed prints and varied textures: sequins, fur and chenille against a dark floral duvet cover, as you would expect in a shabby chic room. It is the darker colour palette which is less typical but still makes for a beautiful inspiring room.
Most people don’t think of pink and blue as being a good colour combination but in shabby chic bedrooms, it’s used a lot (and surely far more popular thanks to Cath Kidston’s stunning prints). This dream bedroom (left) makes use of very simple pastels in pink and blue with a couple of scattered floral cushions to finish the look. Note that the pink is the accent colour so used sparingly as any accent colour should be, and the blue of the bedding is matched to the walls. The excess use of fabric is of course typical of the shabby chic look.
This bedroom (right) is another example of a sophisticated slant on the shabby chic look – making use of only white and beige linen for the bedding although layered up and a little disorganised, as is the way. Of course, in a room with an incredible chandelier and breathtaking fireplace like this one, you don’t need much more in the way of detail to create a stunning look.
This really pretty bedroom has a plain white cotton bedset which is set off with some beautiful throws. Besides the attractive bedding, I absolutely adore the feature wall behind the bed with the eye catching mural – I haven’t been able to find a similar mural anywhere online and wonder if it was perhaps hand painted on. If you search for ‘floral wall mural’ on eBay there are some good designs but they don’t quite match this! The best way to get something really original like this would probably be to use a service that turns photos into wallpaper, like Better Wallpaper and choose a very high res image from somewhere like Shutterstock.
Although not a complete bedset, I wanted to include this adorable patchwork quilt as I’ve hardly mentioned patchwork and it has such a big place in the shabby chic bedroom. Both eBay and Etsy are good places to pick up varied patchwork fabric that’s ideal for making a quilt yourself. Abakhan also offers good value for fabric, especially on mixed fabric bundles – http://www.abakhan.co.uk/. Of course, since you’re after the faded worn look, a fantastic place to pick up cheap fabric is second hand stores where you can hunt down second hand curtains, cushion cases, throws and even pretty dresses, that can be washed and cut up and made into patchwork for cushions and bedspreads.
I wanted to include this picture (left) because I love the ruffles on the simple choice of bedding in plain white cotton with a striped backing.
Here’s another example right of use of a lovely mix of vintage prints and textures to create a cosy shabby chic look. I love the use of the faded apple green which is perhaps less common in the shabby chic colour palette.
My final pick is a somewhat Cath Kidston inspired colour scheme. I love the ribbons used to close up the pillows and the plain pink backing on the quilt cover. I also love the way the look has been continued over the bed in a swag with sheer fabric ruffles, and matching covers have been made for the nearby bedside tables. I was quite surprised to find you can actually buy this bedset online at ‘Lovely Decor‘ (US), even though it has a real homemade feel to it. This is quite a fussy and feminine take on the shabby chic look so perhaps not for everyone.
I hope my choices of shabby chic bedding have been an inspiration to you!
You can find more gorgeous shabby chic bedding in the shop.